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UKFB Stat of the day: Toxic Differential

via Courier-Journal

via Courier-Journal

via Courier-Journal

A couple days ago, The Ringer published a piece titled “How to Quantify the NFL: Five Stats to better understand Football.” I hadn’t heard of toxic differential before, but among those five stats, I found it to be the most fresh and reliable predictor of success.

Toxic differential is ambitious and comprehensive; and while it may sound complex, it’s relatively easy grasp.

Toxic differential is calculated by adding turnover differential to “big play” differential.

Turnover differential is a pretty easy concept: takeaways minus giveaways. But you might not know that “big plays” are an objective statistic. Big plays, per most all NFL statisticians, are defined as running plays of 10 yards or more and passing plays of 25 yards or more, so the measure “big play differential is found by subtracting the number of big plays that your defense allows from the number that your offense generates. Basically, it favors teams who can walk the balance between risk and reward on both sides of the ball.

Unlike the NFL, college football has no pre-calculated statistical source that includes toxic differential (at least one that’s free), so I took it upon myself to work out the numbers for the Cats under coach Stoops. BP=”Big Plays”

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 2.15.02 PM

The past two seasons have shown clear improvements in toxic differential (the slipback from ’14 to ’15 is definitely due turnover differential, a very important but sometimes luck-skewed measure) as compared to the horrendous 2-10 season, the Cats likely need to make that next step and jump into the net positive before we reach, or even (fingers crossed) break .500.

To ensure that we get there, a couple of things that need to happen:

  • Barker throws as many, or more, TD’s than INT’s
  • Defense catches some breaks/force a lucky turnover every once in a while
  • running game continues to improve as all RBs/most OLs return

Obviously, the stat that matters at the end of the day is wins-losses, but toxic differential is something to keep in mind as the season progresses.

Article written by Austin Horn

Follow him on Twitter @Lilbighorn23KSR

3 Comments for UKFB Stat of the day: Toxic Differential



  1. Angelo
    3:31 pm August 7, 2016 Permalink

    What about the Rio brothel story? Did Cousins or Coach K attend? Did TMZ tell?



  2. nicky
    7:14 pm August 7, 2016 Permalink

    Barker CANNOT have a 1-1 TD to int. ratio……that gets us nowhere!

    Needs at least 2-1 TD to int…preferably 3-1



  3. 8andcounting
    7:15 pm August 7, 2016 Permalink

    I like this statistic, but you’re wrong about the turnover differential between ’14 and ’15. Turnover differential on offense may be luck oriented, but on defense, turnovers are created mostly by the front 7. The cats’ front 7 was significantly weaker in ’15 without Bud and Z, and with the loss of Melvin Lewis midseason. Interceptions, in particular, are often caused more by pressure on the quarterback than by good secondary play. Pressure = quick decisions = bad decisions, meaning throws into coverage. And even when those bad decisions aren’t throws into coverage, they’re checkdowns that don’t create big plays.

    Accordingly, the defense doesn’t so much need to “catch some breaks/force a lucky turnover every once in a while.” What it needs is Denzil Ware, Jordan Bonner & co. to get to the quarterback. Much has been made out of the 2nd-to-last finish in sacks in the SEC last year, and for good reason. The defense MUST get to the quarterback, or we will be low in this statistic again.