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How the numbers see the Alamo Bowl: Arrested Development

Okay, so now the numbers are really, REALLY wrong. What can we expect?

Araya Diaz/Getty Images

I posted my stats preview yesterday - and within 20 minutes of it being published, we got news that Trevone Boykin and Preston Miller were arrested and suspended from the Alamo Bowl.


So the numbers haven't been right about Oregon all year. They predict a 3-6 point TCU win normally, which might be suspect - but this? Who knows? Well...maybe we can at least get an idea.

Basic Stats:

First: there has been no named starter for TCU, but the staff was reportedly leaning towards letting their senior QB Bram Kohlhausen start. Their other option is freshman Foster Sawyer. Both have seen limited action in games this year. We can pretty well not care that Preston Miller is gone, as he had exactly one reception all year in three games.

The good news for us is that we do actually have a bit of data on how TCU plays without Boykin - in both the Kansas and the Oklahoma games TCU had other QBs playing for good parts of the game when it was competitive.

  • Kansas: Bram Kohlhausen was 13/19 for 112 yards and 1 int, running 3 times for 7 yards. Sawyer was 1/7 for 42 yards and 1 TD, running 8 times for 34 yards.
  • Oklahoma: Kohlhausen was 5/11 for 122 yards and 2 TDs, with a 94.2 QBR - and ran twice for 10 yards. Sawyer was 8/18 for 107 yards, 1 TD and 3 ints. He also ran 5 times for 8 yards.

Kind of a mixed bag, here. In both cases the original starter got pulled in favor of the other because the other wasn't particularly effective. Sawyer is more of a running QB than Kohlhausen. Neither are particularly accurate. Sawyer is probably most statistically like Boykin, and more of a worry for an Oregon defense that has been gashed all year by running QBs. Chances are good we'll see both players at times, unless one is getting and staying particularly hot.

Advanced Stats stuff:

S+P doesn't have a ton of breakdown by game, but we have a few things.

First, percentile performances. Against Kansas, TCU recorded their second worst performance of the year, a 31% game. The scoring margin was the same as it was against Baylor. So basically without Trevone Boykin TCU played as well against Kansas as they do against Baylor. Hmm. Against Oklahoma, however, they bounced back quite a bit - a 66% performance, one of their better all season - though a lot of that has to do with how well their defense played against Baker Mayfield's replacement.

Next we have a study hall for TCU vs. Kansas. What stands out to me here is that TCU had 16 possessions, 8 of which got into scoring range - and scored 2 points per possession in scoring range. Wow. In addition to this, TCU went from being one of the most explosive teams in the nation to having an explosiveness of 1.04 for the game overall, barely average. Another thing that stands out is that they still didn't give up much in the way of sacks.

Against Oklahoma, however, they did significantly better. They had 18 drives, 5 opportunities to score, but scored 6.2 points per drive. That was with at least a week's worth of practice and again, the aforementioned problems with Mayfield going out.

My suspicion is that with the outage being so close to the bowl game the lack of prep time will make TCU look a bit more like the game against Kansas. Not precisely - they'll probably go back to a similar gameplan vs. Oklahoma since both of their starting QBs had some experience there and were successful - but expect some sloppiness that was more prevalent vs. Kansas.

So how about FEI? FEI does give us per-game data thanks to BCFToys, and here we might get something interesting.

On game splits, the offense went from having a positive value for almost every game this season to having two negative valued games in a row. (Note that they also did horribly against Baylor with Boykin, so that's interesting). That means that their offense was a liability compared to an average offense in that game - though this number isn't opponent adjusted. They also had their 2nd and 3rd lowest gain of available yards. Both of these point out that the main difference between Boykin and their other QBs is consistency. Chances are good that TCU's offense isn't going to do a lot of sustained drives with either QB, and that was a major strength that TCU had over Oregon going into the game.

We also have opponent-adjusted game ratings from FEI. This is where we get weird and should probably only look at one game - Kansas. Why? Because the Oklahoma game, adjusted, is the 19th best game of the year by FEI, and that's almost entirely because Oklahoma was held to 30 points and FEI has no way of knowing Mayfield was out.

That Kansas game was by far TCU's worst game of the year, with a ranking of 1410 and a 2.5% percentile performance. Only one other game came close to this - SMU. This represents performing at about half  the effectiveness that they had prior to losing Boykin. Part of that is that their defense didn't do great either, so take that for what it's worth.

So what does this all mean?

First off, it changes nothing about Oregon's offense vs. TCU's defense, obviously. Oregon will still likely be about getting big explosive plays or quick failed drives. That isn't different. What is?

  • TCU didn't go back to running a whole bunch either. Their offense didn't change from a per play perspective. They will still be relying heavily on throwing the ball.
  • TCU will likely play both QBs at times and go with whichever shows to be more effective. Of the two, Foster Sawyer is probably more threatening to Oregon.
  • TCU's offense will likely gain some yards at times but will have issues scoring consistently and mounting long drives consistently. In addition, they will have difficulty getting big plays by comparison to what they did. Especially with the loss of Josh Doctson.
  • Don't expect a lot of trickery either. Maybe one play with each QB that they rehearsed, but they won't have a lot of time to practice anything special.
My prediction would be that they're not going to be able to keep up with Oregon. They had major problems both games that they had Boykin out, and were only close in a game due to the other QB going out. It's not a really solid prediction as honestly the Oregon defense can let anyone do well, but really - TCU still doesn't run a ton and doesn't run that effectively, these QBs aren't experienced, and Oregon's defense can probably hold them to fewer points than what they score themselves.

I predict an Oregon win and an Oregon cover (-7).