Comparing the Noles Offensive/Defensive Performance in 2009, Part 2

The Noles' Defense

First, consider our national ranks in terms of scoring defense and total defense.  I've put in both our ranking vs. all opponents and vs. ranked opponents to show the improvement, just as I did with the offense.

Scoring Defense Rank G TD FG 1XP 2XP Points Points/G
Vs. all opponents 87 6 23 3 22 0 169 28.2
Vs. ranked opponents 41 4 18 2 18 0 132 33


Total Defense Rank G Rush Yards Pass Yards Plays Total Yards Yards/Play Yards/G
Vs. all opponents 108 6 1045 1513 373 2558 6.9 426.3
Vs. ranked opponents 59 4 752 1097 245 1849 7.5 462.3


Here are passing and rushing defense considered individually, against all opponents and against ranked:

Passing Defense Rank G Att Comp Pct. Yards Yards/Att Int TD Rating Att/G Yards/G
Vs. all opponents 100 6 145 80 55.2 1513 10.4 7 11 158.19 24.2 252.2
Vs. ranked opponents 56 4 97 56 57.7 1097 11.3 7 8 165.52 24.3

274.3

 

Rushing Defense

Rank

G

Att

Yards

Avg.

TD

Att/G

Yards/G

Vs. all opponents 99 6 228 1045 4.58 12 38 174.17
Vs. ranked opponents 48 4 148 752 5.08 10 37 188


So there is a significant improvement vs. ranked teams, just as there was with the offense.  But even given the significant jump vs. ranked opponents, a top 50 performance (vs. ranked) is unacceptable.  The offense is performing in the top 25 (vs. all opponents) and in the top 10 (vs. ranked).  There is simply no excuse, if we assume similar talent levels on offense and defense, for this vast differential. 

Here's another interesting stat -- the performance of QBs against our defense.  In this table we see that QBs have performed very well against us.  An average passer rating of 158.19!  That is just sick.

Opponent Att Comp Pct. Yards Yards/Att Int TD Rating
9 Miami (Fla.) 34 21 61.8 386 11.4 2 2 164.79
@ 18 Brigham Young 34 23 67.6 365 10.7 3 3 169.29
21 South Fla. 21 8 38.1 215 10.2 2 2 136.48
@ Boston College 21 12 57.1 203 9.7 0 2 169.77
19 Georgia Tech 8 4 50 131 16.4 0 1 228.8
Totals 145 80 55.2 1513 10.4 7 11 158.19

As I mentioned above in the offensive section (or is this entire article offensive?), Christian Ponder has essentially the nations best passer rating against ranked competition at 154.13.  But QBs routinely eclipse that mark against Andrews' & Buckley's secondary.  For comparison, Miami's opponents' have an avg. passer rating of 122.08, GaTech's opponent's register a 148.84, and USF's defense holds passers to a rating of 94.03.

Coaching or Competition?

So, if the talent levels are similar, then what explains the night and day difference? Maybe our defense has been facing consistently tougher competition than our offense has. If that is the case, then we should see our opponents ranked significantly higher in offensive vs. defensive performance. Here are the numbers:

TEAM

Total Def. Rank

Total Off. Rank

Scor. Def. Rank

Scor. Off. Rank

Miami

39

51

56

49

BYU

50

13

43

8

USF

10

36

5

12

BC

38

107

40

62

GaTech

82

24

77

24

Average Rank

43.8

46.2

44.2

31

(Note that I'm only including FBS opponents.) While the defenses we've faced have outplayed the offenses in terms of yards gained, the reverse is true in terms of points scored. The defensive units faced this year are not as good as the offensive units faced. So, perhaps we can attribute some of the difference between the performances of the Noles' D and Noles' O to the quality of the offenses/defenses we've faced.

However, this could be due to the strength of our opponents' schedules. So let's look at a different measure of our opponents' offensive and defensive prowess. The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is an advanced metric that takes into consideration the quality of one's opponents: teams are rewarded for playing well against good teams and punished for playing poorly against bad teams. How do our opponents offensive and defensive units stack up on the FEI? (I've included FSU so you can see our FEI numbers.)

TEAM

Def. Efficiency

Def. Rank

Off. Efficiency

Off. Rank

Miami

0.1

65

0.146

39

BYU

-0.101

46

0.818

3

USF

-0.568

9

0.329

22

BC

-0.382

24

-0.118

70

GaTech

0.416

106

0.46

15

Average

-0.107

50

0.327

29.8

FSU

0.678

116

0.324

24

Two things should immediately jump out at you. First, notice the disparity between FSU's offensive rank and defensive rank. The offense sits comfortably in the top 25, while the defense sits near rock-bottom -- 116 out of 120! Second, notice that the offense has faced defenses with an average rank of 50, while the defense has faced offenses with an average rank of about 30. That is a significant gap. Perhaps this mitigates some of the blame focused on Mickey & Co., but it doesn't seem to be enough to get them off the hook for their poor performance. Let's look at some additional numbers to see if we can clarify things.

In the following table, we see the FEI ranking together with the point totals scored or given up by the offense or defense, respectively.

TEAM

FEI Def. Rank

We scored

FEI Off. Rank

They scored

Miami

65

34

39

38

BYU

46

54

3

28

USF

9

7

22

17

BC

24

21

70

28

GaTech

106

44

15

49

Average

50

32

29.8

32

While there does seem to be a nice correlation (esp. if you remove BYU) between the rank of the defenses we've faced and the # of points scored by our offense, the Noles' defense has been a Jekyll & Hyde. We held USF, ranked 22 in offensive efficiency, to a respectable 17 points, but we gave up 28 to Boston College -- one of the worst offenses in the country (a negative OE number of -0.118!!). But notice the points scored by the Noles vs. the points allowed by the Noles: 32 vs. 32. At first glance, you might think, "Hey, the offense and defense are even!" But this equality reveals a deep inequality. An excellent offense SHOULD score 32 PPG against good competition. But an excellent defense SHOULD NOT be coughing up 32 PPG against good competition!

Here's another angle on the numbers that is enlightening.  What if we looked at a quality opponent, like Miami, to see if their offense put up similar numbers on their other opponents.  If we held them to their season low in scoring, then maybe our D is better than people think.  Here are all of Miami's opponents, how many points their defenses gave up, and how many points their offenses scored against the Canes:

TEAM Gave up Scored
FSU 38 34
Ga Tech 33 17
Va Tech 7 31
Oklahoma 21 20
FAMU 48 16

Sadly, the Seminoles' D surrendered more points to Miami's O than any other FBS team.  But what about the other side of the ball?  If our offense is as good as people say, then we should expect that Miami gave up more points to us than most other opponents.  That is exactly what we find.  Even if we subtract the defensive TD (interception return), we scored 27 points -- more than anyone except VaTech.  I think that's impressive.

Let's look at one other opponent:  Georgia Tech.  How do our offense & defense stack up against their other opponents?

TEAM Gave up Scored
Clemson 30 27
Miami 17 33
UNC 24 7
Miss State 42 31
FSU 49 44

Here we find similar results -- we scored more than anyone else on the Jackets and the Jackets scored more on us than anyone else they faced.  When we look at the other teams we've faced, we see a similar trend, with a few exceptions.  So it may be true that we have faced, on average, tougher defenses than offenses.  But this difference in competitiveness, which is moderate at best, is disproportionate to the difference between the performance of our O and our D.  The offense has been light-yearsbeyond the defense in terms of rankings, statistically, and in terms of how we've performed relative to our opponents' opponents.  So competition level is not a viable explanation for this massive performative disparity.

Conclusion

So I have argued primarily for two claims:  that our offense has vastly out-performed our defense, and that this difference is not due to the quality of opposing offenses/defenses we've faced.  Assuming similar talent levels on offense and defense, the best remaining explanation for the drastic difference in performance is inadequate coaching.

Questions:

  1. Are there other variables that I have not taken into account that could explain the difference in performance?
  2. Is there some other reason to think that our defense is better than the numbers suggest?
  3. Is there some reason to think that the offense is not as good as the numbers suggest?
  4. Why aren't more people (esp. in sports journalism) talking about Ponder's amazing season?
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Tomahawk Nation

You must be a member of Tomahawk Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Tomahawk Nation. You should read them.

Join Tomahawk Nation

You must be a member of Tomahawk Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Tomahawk Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker