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VARSITY NUMBERS: Adj. Score Revisited

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Breaking a complicated number into something accessible and palatable.

Justin K. Aller

In today's Varsity Numbers, I once again discuss Adj. Points, one of my favorite concepts and one I still feel I haven't explained adequately enough.

In an era where so many teams run at mach speeds, adjusting for both pace and opponent becomes a necessity. It is easy to be wooed by the gaudy stats posted by offenses attempting 100 plays per game (and it can certainly be fun to watch), but if our goal is to truly figure out who is good and who is bad, these adjustments become a must. Take, for instance, West Virginia. The Mountaineers have dominated a good portion of the season's overall narrative, first for their scary offensive performances, then for their absolutely horrific defensive showing. Adj. Scores tell us a story similar to what actual scores tell us, but when you strip pace from the equation and you take into account the level of offenses and defenses West Virginia faces on a week-to-week basis, the extreme aspect of the narrative is removed a bit.

  • Real Score: West Virginia 69, Marshall 34 | Adj. Score: West Virginia 57.2, Average Opponent 22.8
  • Real Score: West Virginia 42, James Madison 12 | Adj. Score: West Virginia 45.7, Average Opponent 27.1
  • Real Score: West Virginia 31, Maryland 21 | Adj. Score: West Virginia 41.3, Average Opponent 35.1
  • Real Score: West Virginia 70, Baylor 63 | Adj. Score: West Virginia 42.8, Average Opponent 33.4
  • Real Score: West Virginia 48, Texas 45 | Adj. Score: West Virginia 34.3, Average Opponent 28.1
  • Real Score: Texas Tech 49, West Virginia 14 | Adj. Score: Average Opponent 36.3, West Virginia 32.1
  • Real Score: Kansas State 55, West Virginia 14 | Adj. Score: Average Opponent 35.4, West Virginia 20.4

In recent weeks, our eyeballs have told us that West Virginia's offense has begun to press when faced with a) smarter defenses like Texas Tech and Kansas State and b) early deficits. The Adj. Score narrative backs that up but fills in another piece of the narrative, too: while the bottom has fallen out in the last two weeks, West Virginia has been getting progressively worse since the start of the season. Here is the Adj. Scoring Margin for each WVU game: plus-34.4, plus-18.6, plus-6.2, plus-9.5, plus-6.1, minus-4.2, and minus-15.0. The offense has gotten worse in all but one game, and the defense has been pretty poor since Week 3. The defense is indeed bad, but opponents have been slowly figuring out ways to slow down Dana Holgorsen's offense for a while.