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This is a continuation of a previous post designed to measure how explosive a team is. For information on the stats used, check out the post on Points Per Play here.

My apologies for not getting this up sooner, it's been a work in progress the last couple of days, but I haven't had a chance to finish it off until now, what with preparing for trips to Helena and Bozeman this week for football and volleyball state championships. Anyway, on to the numbers.

Remember, when judging these number, the guide I used was a straightforward pass/fail system: if you’re PPP ratio for the playoff game was at within 25% of what your average was up to that point in the season, you passed. Further away than 25% of your season average was a failure. (Concerning offensive PPP, this means within 25% less of the average, and within 25% more concerning defensive PPP. Obviously, if a team did BETTER than its average by more than 25%, it would still be a pass.) Great Falls CMR vs. Billings West CMR offense:0.13 PPP (0.48 PPP up to this point) FAIL West defense: 0.13 PPP allowed (0.16 PPP allowed up to this point) PASS

West offense: .44 PPP (0.63 PPP up to this point) FAIL (but barely) CMR defense: 0.44 PPP allowed (0.28 PPP allowed up to this point) FAIL

Judging by these numbers, both teams failed to reach the 75% threshold to pass our little system on both sides of the ball...except for West on defense (the Bears were just under 75% of offense). This might mean that perhaps the 75% bar is too high, but what I really think it means is that the difference in this game was West's defense. One more number to back this up was the turnover plus/minus margin. The Golden Bears were +4, including four interceptions. I figured turnovers would play a huge part in this game, and judging by the PPP numbers above, this game probably should have had lower scoring (neither team was very explosive on offense), and closer than it turned out (neither team really dominated in PPP either). As great as PPP can be, it's important to remember what it measures, and what it doesn't. In this case, except when a turnover leads directly to points on the board (a fumble recovery for a touchdown, for example, or a pick-six), turnovers aren't actually measured directly in PPP.

Long story short...PPP tells us something about this game, but not all of it. West's ability to force turnovers was the deciding factor. This game showed the Bears can win without being extremely explosive, so it's not enough to just limit the big plays against them. You have to protect the football against West, something the Rustlers failed to do Friday night.

For fun, since this game was rematch, take a look at their PPP numbers for Week 2.

Great Falls CMR vs. Billings West CMR offense:0.13 PPP (0.13 PPP in semifinals) West defense: 0.13 PPP allowed (0.13 PPP allowed in semifinals)

West offense: .44 PPP (0.44 PPP in semifinals) CMR defense: 0.44 PPP allowed (0.44 PPP allowed in semifinals)

Those aren't typos, and I double-checked the math. West and CMR posted exactly the same PPP numbers in their semifinal game from their week 2 game. I'll leave it to you all to decide if that's a coincidence or indicative of anything.

Great Falls vs. Helena Capital Great Falls offense: 0.28 PPP (.43 PPP up to this point) FAIL Capital defense: 0.28 PPP allowed (0.30 PPP allowed up to this point) PASS

Capital offense: 1.02 PPP (0.81 PPP up to this point) PASS Great Falls: 1.02 PPP (0.33 PPP allowed up to this point) FAIL

It was hard to glean anything from the numbers of the CMR-West game, but the Great Falls-Capital game is pretty cut and dry. Capital had its way on offense and defense, holding Great Falls to less than 75% of its average PPP on both sides of the ball, while exceeding its own averages. Other points of note...

  • Up to this point, Great Falls had been pretty stout on defense. This was the first time all season a team averaged greater than 0.60 PPP against them, let alone a full point per play.
  • Capital's 1.02 PPP on offense is remarkable and not at all surprising at the same time. A PPP greater than 1.0 means that for every play your team ran, you can add another point to the scoreboard. That's a pretty neat trick if you can pull it off, something Capital has done quite frequently. This was the fourth time in the last five games the Bruins have accomplished this feat.
  • Looking for more amazing feats by the Bruins? Capital has average over a point per play over their last seven games, clicking in at 1.03 PPP over that stretch. Of course, that impressive seven-game offensive showing does not include the Bruins game against West, where the Golden Bears held Capital to a rather pedestrian 0.30 PPP.
  • The plan right now is to start using some of these stats tomorrow to delve closer into the championship game on Friday. I'm curious to what trends we can pick out from West-Capital part one in week 5, and how they'll show up in the title game this weekend.

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