Spring Blog • April 16, 2015


Magazine Second Write Through Process

The second write through process is complete. During the magazine I talk about going through each team 3 different times. I went through the first write through process back in my blog on December 3rd. The second write through process is a pre spring blog for most teams. As soon as I get the spring prospectus or from some teams, just a spring roster, I’m able to get all of the current heights and weights, position moves, players that were lost over the offseason, true frosh signing classes, JUCO’s and other transfers coming in. Also, sometimes players that left the team the year before return and I get everything up to date. During the second magazine process, I kept tweeting when I was doing teams putting a # sign on them, many folks were assuming that was the ranking of the team for the upcoming season. No, it was just the order that I was doing the magazine, many times I mentioned during the blog. Surprisingly, one of the schools to post their roster the latest was Alabama so I actually did Alabama #118 out of the 128 teams.

I started the process back on March 7, which was the first of the 2nd write through process and finally finished on Wednesday, April 15th. Generally I do all 128 teams, and can generally do about 3 teams per day as it takes me anywhere from 3 to 5 hours per team. Let me explain what’s involved in the second write through process.

In the first write through process, I started writing the teams in November. Generally I did bowl teams to get myself up to date and completely in line with the teams prior to their bowls and get in tune with positions, injuries and the status of the team for the year. In the 2nd write through process, I read through all of the articles that have been written about each team since I wrote the team the last time. Once I’ve gone through the articles, I read through the spring prospectus, read the players position by position notes, this usually takes a couple of hours. Then another couple of hours is spent in the next process. I open up the magazine pages which I have written already for each and every team. I have all of the positions written. Unfortunately I like to include a lot of information and a lot of details on each and every write up. I say unfortunately because when I opeN the page it’s generally almost two full pages of text which I now have to condense into one full page. There is a lot of information on these pages and sometimes when I mention the history of a position it does have relevance to the current year.

To give you an example I will go back to last year’s Ohio St write up on the O-line. In the 2014 magazine I talked about 2012’s O-line. What was the relevance? While in ‘12 Ohio St had a very inexperienced O-line. They had to replace a 2 year, 3 year and 4 year starter including a 1st Tm AA and #2 DC and had just 42 career starts. I mentioned that their OL Coach Ed Warinner did a great job and they actually improved to 242 ypg rush (5.2) and 30 sacks. At the end of the O-line writeup, I said that much like in 2012, the 2014 unit was inexperienced as they had to replace 4 starters last year but that I thought Warinner could do a good job, even with an inexperienced group. As it turned out, the OSU O-line mirrored that 2012 group and despite a slow start to the season, actually greatly improved as the season went on and OSU, despite having inexp’d QB’s, opened holes for 264 ypg rush (5.7) and allowed just 28 sacks. Not the numbers you would normally associate with a 1 returning starter O-line, but numbers you would associate with an inexperienced O-line under Ed Warinner.

Even with that said, this year I did chop out a lot of the history of the position and went almost predominantly with only the part that applied to this year. Now when I mentioned last year’s unit and the shape they were heading into the year and the results, I think that’s important to this year’s unit. Let me give you an example. If you just generally rule that on the O-line, 3 returning starters was a positive because you were returning over half your line, you would understand that. However, if you mention the previous year’s circumstances, it could actually either be a positive or a negative. For example, if the team with 3 returning starters on the O-line the previous year had 1 returning starter, or 0 returning starters on the O-line and the previous year had numbers that were far below what they normally achieved, then I would think the O-line would be greatly improved with 3 returning starters for the upcoming year. However, an O-line with 3 returning starters that the previous year had 5 returning starters and had achieved their best numbers they’d ever achieved running the ball and the fewest amount of sacks allowed in 20 years, then the team with 3 returning starters on the O-line would actually figure to be WEAKER than the previous year’s version. Therefore it is important to look at what the unit was in shape of the previous year to foresee what they will do the upcoming year. It’s a method I’ve used for a long, long time in the magazine and I think it’s necessary in any analysis of any position.

With that said, in my chopping process, I have actually left about a free paragraph space on every single team. In the 3rd write through process of the magazine, I’m going to fill in that open space with notes from the spring with notes from the coaches. During the offseason, I interview about 70 to 75% of the coaches. We take a full hour and go over single player on the team and I get notes from the coaches about strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives. I will include some of these articles into the writeups. Also this year, in the final 2 weeks of May I will try to interview as many of the coaches as possible prior to the release of the magazine. It will include some of these notes as well. Also part of the 2nd write through process is a refined tuning of the power ratings. When I did the first write through process and went through the positions, I came up with a number in my mind from 6 to 10.5 for each position. An inexperienced SBC position with lightly rated recruits would probably rate towards the 6 level, whereas a position that had an AA candidate at QB or an O-line that had the entire unit back from a highly productive one from last year and is among the best in the country would rate to the 10.5 stage. In the 2nd write through process, I incorporate my power ratings. I base my power ratings on how I break down a position. As an example, on the offense for RB’s, part of the power rating grade is where the player was ranked coming out of high school and/or their NFL stock for the upcoming year. This is the level of athlete, the size, the height, the weight, the speed - it’s all taken into account into the RB corps and it goes 3 deep with each string getting part of the grade. If you have just 1 great RB and another team has 3 great RB’s, the team with better depth gets the higher grade in that category. The 2nd level of depth is the returning stats for the team (yards rushing, yards receiving, ypc, td’s) taking into account basically the experience of the position. On the O-line once again the players’ PS# and/or NFL draft grade for the upcoming year is taken into account. The computer also weighs in on the O-lines overall average height and average weight of the unit and then the starts from last year that are added in returning as well as the career starts and total amount of letters. Also into both the RB and O-line category is last year’s production from the unit. If you’re expecting a unit to be the same as last year then you have to know what they did last year.

Sometimes when you evaluate a position in your head you can fall in love with just one of those areas, career starts for example on the O-line, or highly rated PS#’s. What the computer does is decide a % each which takes it all into account. In the 2nd write through process I have my original number and now I see what the computer number is. Usually these two numbers are within .1 or .2 of each other. When they are not, then I have to investigate even further and find out if there’s something wrong with the computer numbers or if there is something wrong with my original thought process. After examining the position even closer, I fine turn my number analyzing all the aspects of the position and now have an even firmer grade for the position. I do this for QB’s, RB’s, receivers, O-line, D-line, LB’s, DB’s, K, ST and even coaches. I also finalize my total amount of projected starters returning for the team. Now sometimes my projected starters for the team do not agree with the school’s projected starters. I’ll give you an example. At FAU Tony Moore started 8 games at RB last year and he is gone. The returning RB Jay Warren only started 4 games last year. That would appear to be a no brainer decision and the school has stated it’s a starter lost at the RB spot. I, however, counted it as a RB returning. Why is that? While, Jay Warren ran the ball 121 times last year for 571 yards. Moore did start 8 games, only carried the ball 75 times and had just 299 yards rushing. Another returning RB, Greg Howell, ran the ball 50 times and had 253 yards rushing so the top 3 RB’s on the team, they guys that toted the ball 171 time returned, and a guy that had 75 carries or just 30.4% of the load departed. Therefore, I count the RB unit at FAU as having a returning starter, as they have 70% of the rush yards returning including the leading rusher from last year, who had almost double the amount of yards as the player lost. The returning starters are judged the same for every team by one source, whereas the individual schools differ on their methods so my numbers usually differ.

When the second write through process of the magazine is complete for the team, I have a chopped down version of the team with about a paragraph of space left for me to write, my power ratings updated and now have a firm set of power ratings and a great idea of where I will rate the teams for the upcoming season and that is when I do the projected AP Top 25 for the upcoming year. I will have more on that in a blog in the next couple of days but my projected AP Top 25 has hit 45 out of 49 of my projected players the last 2 years. I put out my first projected AP Top 24 blog 2 years ago and hit all 24 and last year, of the top 25 I projected, 22 were actually in the AP Top 25 at the end of the year. I’ll work on raising that up to 24 or 25 of the 25 this season.

That is an update on the second write through process of the magazine which I just completed. Monday’s blog I will talk about my third write through process of the magazine, which I am about to start and it is probably the one with the toughest deadlines to meet as the magazine deadline is fast approaching.