If you ask most Florida Gators fans, they would tell you they saw progress in the offense from Jim McElwain’s first season in 2015 to his second in 2016. But this is exactly why statistically-inclined people distrust the “eye test.”

The ’16 Gators offense ranked No. 97 nationally in points per game (ppg) against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents (h/t to teamrankings.com for the sorted statistics used in this article). The ’15 offense also ranked  No.  97 in ppg against FBS opponents. Any indication that the offense improved from ’15 to ’16 was a mirage, at least when it comes to points scored.

That kind of statistic is counterintuitive for one main reason. When an offense is that bad, it is bound to improve just because it can’t be that bad for two years in a row.

Or can it?

The good news for Gators fans is that having an offense that bad two years in a row is somewhat unusual. From 2012-2015, there were 142 teams that ranked No. 91 or worse in ppg against FBS teams. Those teams’ offenses improved 76.8 percent of the time. The maximum improvement was 111 spots, with Auburn  improving from No. 122 to No. 11 from 2012 to 2013.

It is important to note that Auburn’s massive jump is exceedingly rare. Of the 142 teams examined, only three showed an improvement of  more than  90 spots (2.4%). The average improvement was a much more modest 22.7 spots.

Many in Gainesville might welcome that type of improvement. But a 23-spot improvement would give the Gators the 74th-ranked offense in the country (out of 128 teams). This would still be below average, and would compare with Florida’s 2012 offense (ranked No. 71) that was led by a QB that Gators fans booed

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