Virginia at USC Preview

Virginia is an interesting and tough team to preview.  Mike London, their head coach, is new to their team this year.  In 2008 and 2009, he coached at the Richmond Spiders (a FCS school).  With only one game played this year by Virginia, the sample size for this season is very low.  To make things worse, their only opponent was against an FCS school (coincidentally, it was against their head coach’s previous school, the Richmond Spiders).  So to get an idea of what Virginia may be like when they visit USC this Saturday, we will have look at the 2010 Richmond at Virginia game, the 2009 Virginia season, and the 2009 Richmond season.  The 2010 Richmond at Virginia game will give an idea of what they are capable this year, even if it was against a FCS opponent.  The 2009 Virginia season stats will give an idea on what the Virginia personnel are capable of.  The 2009 Richmond season stats will give an idea on Head Coach Mike London’s tendencies are.  Please note that the 2010 Virginia stats are based on a single game only and don’t have nearly the sample size as the 2009 Virginia or Richmond stats.  Because of this, there is a high amount of variance that should be taken along with the stats presented for that team.

In this preview, we’re going to look only at a couple basic stats.  We will look at the pass vs run play calling by the three teams noted above (2010 Virginia, 2009 Virginia, 2009 Richmond).  Then we will look at the 3rd down conversion rate of the three teams as well.

Play Calling

First lets look at the pass vs run play calling for Virginia.

All three teams are fairly balanced.  The Mike London’s 2009 Richmond team had a slight tendency to run the ball rather than pass it.  However, the 2009 UVA team shows that the personnel is more suited for a very balanced offensive attack.  This trend continued in the 2010 game against Richmond.

Now let us look at each play by down to see how this changes as we get more specific.

On 1st down, all three teams tended to lean towards the run.  On 2nd down,  the teams differed greatly.  The 2010 UVA team heavily passed, the 2009 UVA team was fairly balanced, and the 2009 Richmond team leaned slightly towards the run.  3rd down was pretty heavily favoring of the pass on all teams, so expect about a 70% pass rate on 3rd down.

3rd down conversions

Now let us take a look at the 3rd down conversion rate.

The 2010 Virginia team had the best 3rd down conversion rate at 50%.  They also converted 83% of their 3rd and shorts (3 or less yards).  In actual numbers, this was a 7/14 conversion rate on 3rd down and a 5/6 conversion rate on 3rd and short.  This means that Virginia only converted on 2/8 (25%) of their 3rd downs which were greater than 3 yards.  The 2009 Virginia team had a 36% 3rd down conversion rate and 63% of their 3rd and shorts.  The 2009 Richmond team under Mike London converted 44% of their 3rd downs and 60% of their 3rd and shorts.  Look for USC to put up a better defensive effort and hold Virginia closer to the 36% rate that was the average for the 2009 Virginia team.


I wish a more thorough analysis could be made.  Unfortunately, I was quite busy this week and the circumstances of the stats themselves made it quite difficult to find good correlations.  Given that there was only 1 game of data for the 2010 Virginia team and that they have a new coaching staff, it is difficult to predict tendencies.  Hopefully, this post will give an idea of what Virginia may throw at USC.   More analysis may come later, but it is more likely that my next post will be a recap of the game.


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