Life under Cassar: Early season statistics indicate similarities, improvements in crossing

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been 11 games under Jeff Cassar, and it’s as good a time as any to take a look at some basic statistics around the season so far.

We’re not looking at anything complicated here, and these stats certainly don’t fully describe our play. But they do give some interesting indicators, and that’s worth consideration.

We’re also comparing disparate ranges, but it’s the closest we can get right now to breaking out from simple statistical meanderings.

2013 2014 Change
Passes 447.65 421.09 94%
Accurate pass 359.94 334.55 93%
Pass accuracy 80% 79% 99%
Fwd pass 169.65 161.27 95%
Fwd pass proportion 38% 38%` 101%
Fwd zone pass 277.910 256.180 92%
Fwd zone pass proportion 62% 61% 98%
Key passes 10.32 9.64 93%
Interceptions 18.62 15.18 82%
Clearances 28.79 32.91 114%
Fouls suffered 11.54 13.91 121%
Fouls committed 11.76 11.64 99%
Crosses 12.94 10 77%
Accurate crosses 4.03 4.44 110%
Cross success 31% 44% 143%

You’ll see that we’re attempting slightly fewer passes than we were last year — but still significantly less than a standard deviation (57 passes for that measure) away from that.

But when we get past that point, everything looks basically the same. The ratio of forward passes and passes in our attacking half are essentially identical. Our passing accuracy hovers around 80 percent.

In fact, on average, these limited statistics are 98.4 percent of their counterparts. The measure with the biggest change is fouls suffered, with a 20 percent increase. (Right now, there’s a four percent increase across the league.) It’s difficult to easily say why that’s the case, but we’re better off if we’re winning fouls. On the other hand, with our squad a bit on the aging side, nobody wants to see terribly too many poor tackles.

The other change of note is interceptions, which has dropped nearly 20 percent from all of 2013. It’s difficult to pinpoint a cause for this, and in fact, there may not be one to pinpoint.

Crossing

Clearly, we’ve skipped over one more statistic, but that’s because it’s worth talking about in a little more depth. First, we’re in only sending around 77 percent as many crosses as we did on average in 2013. Second, we’re successful with 10 percent more crosses. Our success rate has jumped from 24 percent to 44 percent. That’s not insignificant, and it would seem to represent a change in approach.

Is this down to a systemic change, or is it a short-term statistical aberration from the norm? We’ll revisit this later in the season, but the early signs are positive.

If you’d told me that we’d actually improved in our crossing and that we’d send in fewer crosses, I’d have been surprised. But it’s true, and it’s played in our favor.

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