Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good COP: Bad COP

I have come down from the ledge.

The Hoosiers, like it or not, played a good, almost flawless game.   (Why does it seem like everyone brings their A-game against Penn State?   Is it just me?)  I remember as I watched the game thinking about how Latimore tiptoed and danced along the sidelines, plucking perfect passes out of the air against decent coverage.  IU made the plays.  PSU--not so much.

Yet, as we saw in the recap, the stats weren't as lopsided as the score.

Often times, that can be traced to turn-overs.  But in this game, the turn-overs were "equal."  One fumble lost for us.  One INT for them.  But not every turn-over is equal, and turn-overs in and of themselves don't always paint the complete picture.

But COP does.

What is COP?  Change Of Possession.  That includes turn-overs but it also includes failed fourth down conversions and missed field goals, which are essentially a turn-over, but not recorded as such.  One of our fumbles we recovered--sounds great.  But in reality, we recovered in the end zone (better than giving up a TD!) but it was a safety and we still lost possession.

But not every COP is bad.  There are good COPs.  Such as kicking off after a field goal or score.  Or sacking the QB in the endzone to create a safety.  Covering an on-side kick is a good COP.  Losing an on-side kick is a bad COP.  These can be game changing plays that don't show up well on the stat sheet.
OK--we can play this the easy way, or the hard way.

Bad COPs include having a punt blocked, missing a field goal, failing to convert on fourth down, especially deep in one's own territory(!), and giving up a safety.  We managed all but one of those in the loss to IU.

I'm not sure why the statisticians don't record COPs, because they do explain the outcome of the game better than turn-overs alone.  Of course, the stats are all there if you look close enough--the fourth down conversion percentage, number of punts, missed field goals, blocked or otherwise, etc.

Of course, not every COP is clear cut in theory and has to be viewed in the context of the actual game.  Turning the ball over on downs on your own 33 yard line down by 11 is BAD.  But turning the ball over on downs inside the opponents red zone when you're leading by 10 with seconds left in a game where you don't want to risk a blocked field goal is probably GOOD.  Neutral at worst.

Either way, you always want a good COP.

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