Not even those who make a living setting the odds could predict Scott Frost's success at UCF
Scott Frost has plenty of time to be judged as Nebraska football’s head coach, but it’s about time we enlisted another point of view to help us understand what he brings to the table. We’ve already tried to nail down his play-calling tendencies, but we need a look at him through the eyes of someone that has no dog in the fight.
It’s now appropriate to put aside the perspectives of fans, sports writers, prospective employees or even athletic directors. We must bring in the cold, hard stare of Las Vegas to assist us.
To find out what the oddsmakers think of Frost as the head of a program, we’re going to have a look at a few key numbers during his time at UCF. This is the part where I thank Dave Bartoo of CFBMatrix for his help compiling these statistics and the nifty graphs for your visual convenience.
In 2016, Frost began his head coaching career as an underdog in Vegas’ eyes five times in 13 games including once at home to Maryland. The total spreads averaged out to 0.5 points in favor of the Knights. The largest spread he saw against him was 34.5 points versus Michigan. Vegas projected UCF to score 27.58 points per game on average that year.
In 2017, Frost was an underdog twice: versus Maryland again, but this time on the road following a pasting of Florida International, and against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Vegas quickly learned its lesson regarding UCF’s new offensive juggernaut following the Knights’ 38-10 win over the Terrapins as the average spread for the season ended up being 14 points in UCF’s favor.
The offense was projected to score an average of 41.35 points, a 13.77-point uptick. Note that no projections were given for the Austin Peay game aside from the 45-point spread. During 2016, UCF bested offensive projections 58 percent of the time while in 2017, they beat those forecasts 75 percent of the time.
While the Knights exceeded defensive expectations in 2016 to the tune of 62 percent, they would drop to 58 percent the next year largely because of the pace of Frost’s offense and its scoring ability. UCF put up .384 points per play in 2016 versus .679 in '17. Frost’s second-year Knights also ran 51 fewer plays.
Long story short, Frost’s teams didn’t only start out difficult to predict during the first year in which he installed a new culture and schemes on both sides of the ball. His teams’ offensive production skyrocketed from year one to year two helping UCF to their storybook 13-0 season.
Once he has an Oregonesque level of speed across the board at Nebraska’s skill positions and a standard two-deep of Big Ten physicality on his offensive line, look for him to be equally difficult to predict — not to mention just as dangerous to other teams’ win-loss records — as the Huskers’ head coach.
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces), and keep up with the Quick N Dirty podcasts on his Patreon page.