Turf Wars Part II: Bears Slowfooted on Grass
Hydrotech pointed out on my first post on turf performance that looking solely at turf versus grass because we have six games at home on turf, and it’s easier to win at home than on the road. Upon further review, I completely agree. I’m guessing a Cal victory achieved at Memorial Stadium is significantly less difficult than winning at Autzen or Pullman. So I decided to appropriately separate the two. Interestingly, the turf-grass performance disparity remains highly significant.
|2007 Pass||G||Comp. %||Yd/Att||INT||TD||Efficiency||Att/G||Yds/G|
|2006 Pass||G||Comp. %||Yd/Att||INT||TD||Efficiency||Att/G||Yds/G|
You can see a few things: Nate Longshore performs just as well on road turf as he does on home turf–his efficiency rating was actually higher on road turf games (he had very effective performances against Oregon, Washington, and CSU, and strong ones against the Cougars and Beavers last year) than they were on his home turf. He completes a bigger majority of his passes. Most importantly of all, he does not toss picks–Longshore threw 9 TDs and 4 INTs on road turf (about on par with his home stats) as opposed to 8 TDs and 14 INTs on road grass in 2006-07.
The running game is also significantly stronger. The Cal ground game was a well oiled-machine on road turf, with 5.57 yards/attempt, 169 yards/game, 6 TDs in 2007 (as opposed to a meager 3.46 yards/attempt, 91 yards/game and NO TDs on road grass). There was a more linear drop-off from home turf to road turf to road grass in 2006, but the Cal offense became ordinary again on grass while holding their own on the opposing turf (159.5 yards/game and 4 TDs in 2 games on turf; 89.7 yards/game and 1 TD in 3 games on grass).
Defensive stats follow after the jump.
The defensive numbers do not provide as clear of a picture as the offensive ones do, yet there are some observations worth noting.
|2007 Rush D||G||Att.||Yds||Yds/Att||TD||Att/G||Yds/G|
|2007 Pass D||G||Comp. %||Yd/Att||INT||TD||Efficiency||Att/G||Yds/G|
|2006 Rush D||G||Att.||Yds||Yds/Att||TD||Att/G||Yds/G|
|2006 Pass D||G||Comp. %||Yd/Att||INT||TD||Efficiency||Att/G||Yds/G|
The pass defense numbers are mainly static, although interestingly enough the Cal defense improved on grass. The managed efficiency with which Willie Tuitama, John David Booty and Erik Ainge ran their offenses at home against Cal appear to be the big factor in those victories in 2006. In 2007, opposing offenses playing on their home turf appear to have constantly put pressure on Cal’s defense and moved that ball at will, although there didn’t seem to be much of a difference which surface the Bears played on.
It’s the run defense where Cal got gashed, slashed, burned–on TURF, no less. Although home turf games saw a slight decrease in run production, there was a jump of 150 yards per game allowed on road turf games. Yet the Bears managed to hold onto two of those games.
What one can see is that our grass road defense gives up a little bit more than our turf home defense, which is to be expected. So the defensive issues appeared to have a minimal impact on the outcome of the game.
Now, one might argue that our road schedule on grass has been signficantly tougher than on turf. Well, we drew Tennessee, Arizona, USC in 2006 (pretty tough, but manageable), and UCLA, Arizona St and Stanford this past season (not as tough, and fairly doable at the beginning of last year). By contrast, our opponents on turf have been Washington St, Washington, Oregon St, Oregon, and Colorado St. Not exactly a list we’re dropping dead to, but Oregon St. and Oregon both finished T-3rd in conference the past two years, and Washington did beat us. So it’s not as if these opponents were significantly weaker than their grass counterparts.
In other words, this team had a grass problem. It’ll be their job in 2008 to try and shake it.
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