A Tale of Three Defenses

After Wake Forest where our defense played their best game of the year people started to say that this squad had turned the corner and to expect better things in the remaining games.  I couldn’t disagree more and still insist that this unit did not magically learn how to play defense overnight and that they are still extremely poor in many aspects.

I put together a small case study to see just how the 2009 FSU defense compares to others.  The FSU defense ranks #27 in least amount of defensive plays with 646 (I choice snaps because as FSUn preaches "How many snaps did you have, what did you do with them").  The two teams chosen to compare FSU with are BYU (#26 with 643 snaps) and UNC (#28 with 647 snaps).

The first table shows opponents scoring drives in terms of yardage: 


Almost 62% of scoring FSU has surrendered have been drives of 70 yards

or more while 66% of TD drives were 70+ yards compared to BYU at 61% and UNC at 46%. One would venture to guess that making an offense go 70 yards to score would easily wear out a defense.

The next table shows opponents scoring drives in terms of Time of Possession:


As you can see our defense hardly breaks a sweat when giving up scores. Looking at this table you can see that FSU allows offenses to score a TD in under a minute 1 out of every 5 times. That is bad, very bad. The only positive I can take from this is a bad defense is your best defense, by them staying off the field it allows our offense to stay on as much as possible thus wearing down opposing defenses. Since teams score on us in such quick fashion once can expect that they do it in a limited amount of plays and you of course would be right as this next table shows.


As many of you are aware of by know FSU is very susceptible to the big play and as this table shows roughly 20% of TD drives have happened in under 3 plays. The defense has given up 5 one play TD drives this season, just as many 11+ play drives (way to be balanced).

As I am sure you have figured out by know UNC is great, BYU is average and FSU is terrible and the following rankings show that:


One other point I would like to bring up is our inability to hold defenses to field goals, it is bad, really bad. You hear a bunch of talk about offenses finishing drives and putting it in the end zone for 7 instead of 3, well the same should work in reverse for the defense. In 2009 it just hasn’t happened, we have allowed 42 touchdowns to just 5 field goals.

In the following table you will see TD/FG ratios, there are obvious anomalies when looking at TD/FG ratios such as where Tennessee, Ok State and Oregon St are represented in comparison to their PPG ranking and teams like TCU who has given up only 23 total scores (17 TD and 6 FG rank in the 60s).


 In case you were curious to what our defense has done in recent years: Fsutdfgratio_medium

I hope you enjoyed this exercise, my intent was not to bury the defense any more than we already have. There really is nowhere to go but up and next year they will improve, hopefully to the ranks of say a BYU which should put us in good contention of an ACC title.


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