Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

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Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby youngterrier on Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:49 pm

We've played 10 games this year, and likely have at least 2 more. Nevertheless, I think there's plenty of information in the stat column that can extrapolate how Coach Conklin has changed this team.

I'm using a somewhat arbitrary sample; namely the teams that I thought were the best on offense (2007, 2008) and the last two seasons before this one and seeing how we compare. I'm also looking at general trends for the passing game because that has been a point of emphasis.

We've already completed and thrown more passes (90-150) than we have in any year except 2007 (100-182) and 2008 (93-145). We will almost certainly eclipse the completion numbers, and will also surpass the attempts if we play more than one playoff game. The completion percentage is sitting at 60%, which is the highest it's been (easily) since 2008. We are completing (9) and attempting (15) more passes per game than we have in any season in the last 10 years. Yardage wise, we're about 150 yards away from surpassing last year, and if we play two playoff games, it's likely we'll pass the most of any team since Ayers took over all those years ago.

We are also averaging 450 yards of offense. More than 2007, but a hair under 2008 (which had 467). It's over 100 yards more than the last few years as well. We're also running the ball better in the past couple years, already eclipsing the number we had through 13 games last year in 10 games. Basically, offensive numbers over the last 2 years were about the same, especially if you control for quality of competition.

But what makes this team different from those 2007/2008 teams is that the defense is much better, about 50 yards better per game, most of which comes from stopping the run.

The defense is similar to the last couple of years with some key differences: our redzone touchdown defense (above 70% vs low 60%) and fourth down defense is not as good by a hair (60% compared to 47 and 50%, but those are based on different outcomes for like 4 plays) but our third down defense is phenomenally better (31% compared to 41% and 44%). I think the explanation for this is that we're running more man coverage. Our prior strategy was keep everything in front of us, let up some yardage and force a stop in the redzone. Now we play man in the redzone, which is a little more susceptible to those touchdowns.

One other key difference, back on offense, is that we go for it on fourth down less often compared to the teams 10 years ago.

So here's the executive summary:
1) We pass more, complete passes at a higher percentage and have an offense comparable to 2 of the best of the last ~30 years or so
2) Our defense is much better at stopping the run than it was 10 years ago (chalk that up to better athletes in the front 7)
3) The change to more variety on defensive playcalling has given us the benefit of being much better on third down, while sacrificing a hair of efficiency in the redzone and on fourth down.

It's worth mentioning that for point 3, we only have a sample of one year. It could be the case that we just failed to execute on 2-4 drives and that could be the difference between those percentage gaps. We won't know if this is a systemic trade off until we get another 2-3 years of data.

Overall, I'm happy with what Conklin has produced. This was year one, and we appear to have improved on offense and held steady on defense (albeit with more risk/reward). I look forward to seeing how we improve in the future.
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby Retiredterrier on Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:53 pm

Good stuff YT. Good points and I agree with all that you said but would like to add something. JC as the head guy was his first time. Sometimes that may not make any difference. But this year it did or it seemed that way. FU and Sammy both exploited something that they had spotted on film or scouted. JC since this was his first time did not have any past experience as the head man to use as a guide. He simply had to do what he thought was best and hope that was the right thing to do. Granted he did have experience as an assistant for multiple years. IMHO he will, along with the entire staff, get better as they become more accustomed to each other and gain experience.

Also this next point I have not researched it for details but doing it strictly from memory. So I could be wrong on some points. But as I remember from years past WCU, Chatt and Sammy were not what they have been for the last few years. Remember when Chatt was something like 1-10 one year and other years about the same ? Sammy started out about like Mercer did when they first joined the SoCon. And also the Cit has gotten better too. FU is a little different but they had a lull for a few years. Of course years ago we also had App St and GaSo to deal with. They were the perennial powerhouses with us in the mix too. So in a nutshell teams from '07 and '08 (I am talking about the opposing teams, not the Terriers) were not what they are now and so the Terriers probably had an easier time or should have had it easier back then. BTW I do not remember the last year App St and GaSo were members ? Were they already gone by '07 ?
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby youngterrier on Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:58 pm

App State and GSU left in 2013.

The important thing is that many of the stats I cited or didn't even bother to cite among playoff teams are relatively consistent or within the margin of error. You won't be able to tell if this team is that much better than other teams just by looking at the stats.

Having said that, I don't think we have had as much balance on both sides of the ball since going D1
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby mudrat43 on Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:31 pm

I would like to consolidate some of the above opinions. Been a huge fan of NAIA, DIII, DII, and FCS forever. Because: more REAL student athletes! Was a big fan of GaSouth and APPState. Then they went into the netherworld. I came late to the camp of the Terriers (5 yrs. ago). Some observations from a NEW fan.

1. WOF runs the ball more (lots) than they throw it.

2. WOF does not pass the ball very well.

3. WOF does not posses great speed on offense or defense.

4. WOF does not field feared special teams. Exception: field goals.

5. WOF is an abysmal pass defense team.

6. WOF is at times an undiciplined team.

I've noticed little change in the above observations with the new coaching staff. Different schemes come and go over the years, but it is my opinion that good coaches modify and change schemes according to CURRENT player skills. Over time good coaches bend their teams into what THEY prefer them to be. We shall see!

When it was first learned that the previous coach was retiring, I had made (on this blog) a suggestion that a great "catch" for a new head coach would have been the current head coach at DII Valdosta State. Kerwin Bell has taken a mediocre to fairly good team to a gridiron monster...10-0 and on their way! WOF woulda, shoulda, coulda!!!
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby youngterrier on Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:08 pm

I don't think we are watching the same team, then.
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby woffordgrad94 on Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:33 am

Mudrat

If you are waiting for the day when Wofford throws the ball as much or more than it runs it, you just very possibly might be waiting until the Second Coming. That’s not a criticism of you or of Wofford or of anyone or anything else- that’s just the way it is. The last time a Wofford QB threw for 300 yards Dick Nixon was in office (1969). The last receiver to have a 200 yard game? A dude named Jerry Richardson back in 1956. And the last time a Wofford QB completed 20 passes in a game? You have to go all the way back to 1951 for that. But just because Wofford does not pass it a whole lot does not mean they do not pass effectively. The team had completed 60% of its passes this season...not too shabby. And I would not say Wofford is a slow team. We have some quick players and some slugs, just like most other teams, and I don’t think we are appreciably slower than most teams we play. I do agree no one is going to fear our special teams. And I do admit that our pass defense needs work and has for a great many years- it was porous even while I was at Wofford in the early 90s and we were D2 and it hasn’t really gotten much better since. But I disagree that we are undisciplined. Wofford has never been a team that has been known for dirty or unacceptable play or extracurricular antics and we are typically not among the most heavily penalized teams. Now does the team have issues and shortcomings? Most definitely...most glaringly we already mentioned and agreed on the pass defense issue. But I just don’t see a lot of what you see. Wofford is and has been a legit Top 25 team in its division quite often over the years and it definitely is this year. I know I have gotten frustrated at times in the past and criticized the team, sometimes going overboard with said criticism. But sitting here now with a level head, I can say we have an overall well above average FCS football program at Wofford College...one to be proud of. And I still think Josh Conklin needs more time before we make any kind of judgement of the job he is doing...this team is still pretty much Ayers’ team. It is much too early to proclaim “woulda coulda shoulda” about the coaching hire. As other have said, early returns on Josh seem to be treading positively. As you said, we shall see!
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby mudrat43 on Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm

YT

Yep, I believe it was the same team!

WG94

I believe those are the criticisms that have dominated this board for years....minus the digs at some of the coaching staff!
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby youngterrier on Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:27 pm

I don't believe the speed or undisciplined argument for a second.

And every fan base thinks their pass defense is bad.
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby Atldog7 on Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:05 pm

Honestly, I think our shortcomings in pass defense lie in three main problems.

1. Our scheme lends itself to giving up a lot of yardage on short dink and dunks because our corners are instructed to give more cushion.

2. We don't have a dominant pass rusher and when we just rush 3 or 4 we can't get to the Qb enough, putting our Dbs in precarious positions. You have to go back to 2010 to find anybody close to double digits in sacks. In 2010 Ameet Pall had 12.5. Since then, most years the team leader is around 3-4.

3. Coaches fear the big play - That's why we don't see a lot of exotic blitzes. The most you will see is Titus or Henson coming on a stunt. I don't recall a corner or safety blitz all season.

I would argue this is the most team speed we have ever had in the secondary between Watson, Lemon, Gbesee, Tillery and Alstatt and yet we continue with soft zones with large cushions. It has been this way for as long as I can remember and that is now going on 30 years of Wofford football. It is extremely frustrating against teams that can fling it all over the field like Samford because it never varies.

That being said...it is hard to argue with the overall results. We compete (most years) at or near the top of the Socon in Wins and Total Defense and Scoring defense. We are in the playoffs more often than most of our Socon brethren. We will see if there is any paradigm shift as Conklin transitions into years 2-3 and maybe trusts his guys more as he gets to know their strengths but for now, expect no real change to our defensive philosophy.
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby lawdog on Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:35 am

Conference champs. Bright future. https://www.goupstate.com/news/20181117 ... ord-moving

As shown elsewhere on this board, our team’s academic performance is perennially at the the top of the SoCon, and near the top in the nation, which is after all the point.

Nuff said.
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Re: Comparing Conklin's first team to past teams

Postby woffordgrad94 on Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:00 am

Academics is very important and I am proud of our athlete’s classroom accomplishments and accolades. But I must admit that I still like winning games too and if the team was 2-9 every year I would find their accomplishments for Dr. Shiftlett (if he’s still at Wofford) a bit less remarkable. The great thing Wofford does is that they are still able to win a lot of games with very strong academic performers.
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