Midseason FEI

Good afternoon class, for today's math less we're going to have guest lecturer Brian Fremeau explain the Fremeau Efficiency Index. The floor is all yours Brian.

The principles of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) can be found here. FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. FEI is drive-based, not play-by-play based, and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency [((Points For – Points Against)/7) / (Total Competitive Possessions/2)] (GE), a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. FEI represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an elite team (two standard deviations above average) would win every game on the given team's schedule to date. SOS listed here does not include future games scheduled.

Mean Wins (FBS MW) represent the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against its complete schedule of FBS opponents. Remaining Mean Wins (FBS RW) represent the average expected team wins for games scheduled but not yet played.

Offensive FEI (OFEI) and Defensive FEI (DFEI) are the opponent-adjusted ratings of all non-garbage-time drives from scrimmage. Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the share of the value of total starting field position for the season earned by each team against its opponents. Field Goal Efficiency (FGE) is the point value per field goal attempt earned by the field goal unit.

It's OK if that doesn't resonate with your brain right away. As you start to follow along things will begin to make sense. Game Efficiency was developed in part because traditional statistics found in a box score didn't really do a good job telling the story of a game. The flow of a game transitions and changes drive by drive, not quarter by quarter. Quarters and time are a construct of the rules of football, whereas drives and time of possession are a product of play. Therefore, developing a method to analyze efficiency and even predict future outcome based on the outcome of past possessions makes sense.

Brian was kind enough to pass along a table of Virginia Tech's Game Efficiency scores. You'll notice that the JMU debacle is absent. That's because the FEI model is a graph, the games are nodes and the outcomes are links among them. There's not enough connectivity between I-A and I-AA teams to be relevant to the analysis, because on average each I-A team only plays one I-AA team a season.

Date Week Opponent Home Team Result GE Rk OFEI† Rk DFEI‡ Rk GFEI Rk Relevancy
9/6/2010 1 Boise State n/a L 30-33 -0.036 387 1.366 21 -0.329 148 0.474 39 High
9/18/2010 3 East Carolina Virginia Tech W 49-27 0.299 106 1.237 37 -0.051 247 0.250 131 Low
9/25/2010 4 Boston College Boston College W 19-0 0.271 122 0.144 382 0.146 337 0.205 165 Low
10/2/2010 5 North Carolina State North Carolina State W 41-30 0.108 222 1.031 69 -0.313 151 0.558 14 High
10/9/2010 6 Central Michigan Virginia Tech W 45-21 0.316 94 0.728 163 0.225 378 0.090 260 Low
10/16/2010 7 Wake Forest Virginia Tech W 52-21 0.625 19 1.154 52 0.384 430 0.210 162 Low
† - Higher number is more efficient. ‡ - Lower number is more efficient.
  • The loss to Boise State (0.474) and the win at North Carolina State (0.558) were our two most efficient games according to FEI. Our abysmal GE (-0.036) against Boise is bumped up significantly because of the high relevancy. Both of those games were our closest, down-to-the-wire games. Note that our GEs for them are close to zero.
  • You might wonder how our DFEI against Boston College, a team we shutout, is so bad. Remember, BC had three long drives: 9 plays 63 yards that ended in an interception, 8 plays 69 yards then they missed a field goal and 13 plays 84 yards that got Shinskie'd. Also their relevancy score is low.
  • Four of our offensive efficiencies rank in the top 70, while our highest defensive efficiency is 148.
  • We haven't played many good teams.

I hope this has provided you an additional perspective on how the first half of our season has played out. Now let's take a look at some aggregate statistics (through 10/16/2010).

  • We are ranked 9th in the FEI, the next highest ACC team is North Carolina State at 18.
  • Our OFEI rank is 6th.
  • We rank 4th (25%) in Explosive Drives (the percentage of each team's drives that average at least 10 yards per play). However, we rank 113th (6.1%) in Methodical Drives (the percentage of each team's drives that have 10 or more plays). More big plays were a focus of the offense during the offseason, and they're leading to explosive drives, but if we can't control the clock when we need to, we'll lose games (e.g. Boise State).
  • Defensively (DFEI) we rank 32nd against the 63rd similarly ranked set of offenses.
  • We're only forcing three-and-outs 1/3 of the time (65th best).
  • We're predicted to win 4.1 of our remaining 5 games.

A huge thanks to Brian for all of his help putting this together, and I encourage you to check his work at both BCF Toys and Football Outsiders. If you have questions or comments, leave them below and I'll do my best to follow up.


it took me 3 reads

and my brain hurts .. bad red wine?

but i enjoyed it a lot.