New Indexes Evaluate College Football Kickers and Punters
The models were developed through an extensive analysis of historical kicking and punting data, providing a systematic, refined method for gauging performance.
The on-the-field performance of two of the most often overlooked positions in college football – kicker and punter – are the focus of new indexes developed by a Florida Atlantic University instructor.
“I’d like to elevate the status of kickers and punters,” said Evan Jaffe, creator of the indexes and a data analyst and quantitative methods instructor in FAU’s College of Business. “These specialists don’t always get the glory, but they’re often the difference between a team winning or losing a football game.”
The FAU Kicker Index (business.fau.edu/kicker) and the FAU Punter Index (business.fau.edu/punter) will rank kickers and punters of Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams throughout the season. The indexes will evaluate each active kicker and punter, and provide weekly and cumulative rankings as well as insights into individual players.
To kick off the season, Jaffe’s model will develop a watch list of both kickers and punters predicted to be among the top performers in the 2018 season, as well as year-end rankings for last season. The indexes use the principles of business analytics applied to a sport to gauge performance. Usually punters are judged primarily by the distance of their kicks and kickers by the distance and accuracy of their field goal attempts. FAU’s kicker and punter indexes also uses these measures, but combine them with several additional indicators of performance.
The models were developed through an extensive analysis of historical kicking and punting data, providing a systematic, refined method for gauging performance. While the indexes’ developers won’t reveal the exact, proprietary factors that go into the calculations for the rankings, they did shed some light on how their metrics differentiate from others. Here are a few of the factors they consider:
- Geography of the stadium and atmospheric conditions
- Timing of activity (especially made field goals)
- The kicking play’s impact on game momentum
- Location on the field of a punt’s origin (not just distance covered)
The indexes will be updated every Thursday throughout the NCAA football season. The regular-season index rankings will be released after the regular schedules (excluding conference championships and bowl games) are complete. Cumulative index rankings, which include post-season games, will be published Jan. 8, 2019, following the national championship.