If you haven't been reading Football Study Hall, what the hell is wrong with you? Get over there, start reading and then plug it into your RSS reader because their last three posts are of high interest to Virginia Tech fans.
The man behind FSH is Bill Connelly, a guy who's a lot smarter than me despite having gone to the University of Missouri. But he does double-space after sentences, which ... guh. Anyway, he's best known for his work at Rock M Nation and Football Outsiders, but he was recently given his own personal playground in the form of FSH.
Offensive Line Stats
Like me, Connelly is a stat head. Unlike me, he's good at math. He uses that prowess to analyze college football using SABR-like stats, like a recent post on offensive lines. We've looked at sack rates before here on this blog. Connelly takes it a step further and adjusts it for strength of schedule.
Over the last few years, we've been able to see the Hokies' line has usually been solid at run blocking, but has struggled with pass blocking. Connelly's post gives us the numbers that proves it. Virginia Tech was 98th in the country in adjusted sack rate, but 17th in adjusted line yards, which attempts to separate the ability of a running back from the ability of the offensive line. Check FSH for a much lengthier explanation.
Elsewhere, FSH has continued its Summer Vacation series with two posts that give a very in-depth look at two Virginia Tech opponents: East Carolina and Marshall.
East Carolina Review/Preview
According to Connelly, the Pirates should regress to the mean this year, which would mean an improved defense and a less impressive offense. This year, the offense is missing most of its major contributors and the defense will be the more battle-tested group. They're also switching to a 3-4 defense to combat a lack of depth on the defensive line.
So should we be worried about the ECU game this year? Probably not any more than we worried about last year's game this time of year. As Connelly said, "they are capable of winning or losing just about any game on the slate."
Marshall is a team we should probably be more worried about than we are, according to Connelly's analysis. Not only is the game on the road, but the Herd have nowhere to go but up this year after playing 28 freshmen last year. Plus, they have a running back named Tron, which in and of itself should be worth four wins.
They do need to find a quarterback and get more consistent run block from its offensive line. If you thought the difference in Tech's run and pass blocking listed above was bad, you should see Marshall's. The Herd had the biggest disparity in adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate.
Still, the Herd will be improved on defense and will at least be able to hold its own in a very difficult CUSA East. As far as the game against Tech, I'd probably be a lot more worried if it were one of the first two games of the season. Historically, Tech is able to shake off its early season blocking and tackling problems by Week 4.
Be sure to keep up with FSH. I'm sure he'll have the same in-depth statistical breakdown for the Hokies and the rest of their FBS opponents at some point this summer.