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We can expect progress from Syracuse football’s offense in year two

BabersBall (TM pending) is going into year two. If there’s one thing you can bank on, it’s that spread offenses almost always improve.

NCAA Football: Colgate at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’m cautiously (if not at times outright giddily) optimistic about Syracuse football’s chances for success in 2017. The schedule isn’t great, but the team is returning a lot of starters and talent at key positions on the offensive side of the ball.

Anecdotally, most people buy into the idea that when a drastic change comes over a program stylistically, year two is almost always better than year one. I don't like dealing in anecdotes, I like dealing in stats. So, I took the top ten teams in total plays run from scrimmage this past year, found that coach’s first and second seasons with the team, and compared offensive numbers. (Thanks CFB Stats.) Pretty straight forward, huh? Well..


Team Coach Year 1 Plays From Scrimmage Y1Total Yards Y1Yards/Play Y1Yards/Game Year 2 Plays Y2 Total Yards Y2 Yards/Play Y2 Yards/Game
Team Coach Year 1 Plays From Scrimmage Y1Total Yards Y1Yards/Play Y1Yards/Game Year 2 Plays Y2 Total Yards Y2 Yards/Play Y2 Yards/Game
Clemson Dabo 886 5073 5.73 362.4 865 4349 5.03 334.5
Tulsa Philip Montgomery 1083 6596 6.09 507.4 1114 6851 6.15 527
Baylor Art Briles 771 4517 5.86 376.4 777 4115 5.3 342.9
Colorado Mike MacIntyre 832 4439 5.34 369.9 996 5270 5.29 439.2
Virginia Tech Justin Fuente
Houston Tom Herman 1011 6778 6.16 484.1 1084 5764 5.32 443.4
Alabama Nick Saban 4859 374 902 4981 5.52 355.8
Texas Tech Kliff Kingsbury 1135 6639 5.85 510.7 914 6049 6.62 504.1
Cal Sonny Dykes 1046 5442 5.2 453.5 975 5942 6.09 495.2
Washington State Mike Leach 876 4314 4.92 359.5 999 5478 5.48 421.4
Babers BGSU 1103 6061 5.5 432.9 1136 7655 6.74 546.8
Babers EIllinois 1011 5651 5.6 470.9 1120 7742 6.9 595.5
Babers Cuse 971 5290 5.45 440.8 ??? ??? ??? ???
Top 10 2016 Tempo Offense Yr 1 to 2 Stats Andy Pregler

Some notes:

  • I excluded Virginia Tech because this was Fuente’s first year.
  • Alabama doesn’t have a nice and tidy list of 2007 stats available. They just got a website redesign and it’s 11 p.m. on the East Coast, so shrug emoji. Besides, we know they’re good
  • I included Babers’s last two stops because, well, that’s what I would’ve asked for in the comments.

As you can see, there is generally some kind of change, either slightly positive or slightly negative. No one really stands out besides, well, Dino. Each time he takes over, there is a dramatic change with his offense in year two.

So, let’s dig a little deeper. Quality over quantity. I then took the same team/year list, but looked up S&P+ in year one and year two. From Football Outsiders, S&P+ is one of my favorite football evaluative stats. It takes Bill Connelly’s Five Factors and takes into account a team’s offensive/defensive efficiency and explosiveness, two really key components in a good up tempo offense. The + means that it is representative of the scoring curve of all teams that season. (Think ERA+/OPS+ in baseball.) With all of that out of the way...


Team Year 1 OS&P+ Year 2 OS&P+
Team Year 1 OS&P+ Year 2 OS&P+
Clemson 29.4 26.2
Tulsa 32.8 34.4
Baylor 33 26.8
Colorado 26 32.3
Houston 34.1 28.9
Alabama 26.2 32.3
Texas Tech 32.4 37.1
Cal 28.5 37
Washington State 20.3 30.3
Babers BGSU 26.4 41.4
Babers EIll N/A N/A
S&P+ Year One to Two for 2016 Top Offenses by Tempo Andy Pregler

We see that only 3 teams (Clemson, Baylor, & Houston) saw any decline in year two of their new shiny offensive toy. Most notably, Babers has the largest improvement of any coach I looked at while he was at Bowling Green.

While any team can see issues arise with injuries derail a season, the expectation is that we can expect Syracuse (5.45 Yards/Play, 31.5 S&P+) to improve upon their 2016 offense. That’s the standard with up tempo offenses, and especially so when you’re implementing BabersBall.