I was watching Dana take on Manny Diaz this weekend (like watching an astrophysicist challenge a homeless guy in a chess match) and FOX started flashing all these fancy yards per game and points per game stats at me.
I think the graphic was showing how poor WVU’s defense is considered nationally based on points and yards per game given up. This incensed me and I wanted to explain why real quick because it has an OSU twist.
First, let’s look at this tweet the other day:
Crazy: #okstate defense was on the field for more plays last year than Bama has been in 2011/2012 combined.
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguy) October 3, 2012
Now think about this, does it seem fair to rank one defense against another based on yards per game given up or points per game given up? No? OK, so why are we still doing it?
Teams have different styles. Oregon, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State come to the park every Saturday saying “how fast can we score and how many times can we do it?” Their goal is basically to get their own defense back out there as quickly as possible.
LSU on the other hand probably has employees solely in charge of things like finding out how many different ways you can score on defense and special teams.
It doesn’t seem right to compare SEC offenses to Big 12 offenses (for example) or the other way around.
So everybody’s all like “yeah, West Virginia’s defense suuuuucks” right? How about this:
WVU yards per play given up: 5.78
KSU yards per play given up: 5.15
But Kansas State “has a strong D” because they give up 363 yards per game (rank: 46th) and West Virginia “has a terrible D” because they give up 460 yards per game (rank: 104th).
The 2011 Oklahoma State squad is the poster child for this: ranked 59th in yards per play (not bad) and 107th in yards per game (awful).
But hear me out here: it doesn’t matter how many yards per game you give up. Really, OSU proved that last year. If your style is fast and you try to run as many plays as possible then as long as you’re gaining more yards per play than your opponent (OSU: +1.79 last year, +3.12 this year – see below for more) and winning the turnover battle then you’re pretty much set1.
Three football teams have a +3 or better yards per play offense/defense differential this year: FSU, Bama, and #okstate.
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguy) October 8, 2012
This has been one of the most intriguing things to me about the evolution of OSU as an offense with Fedora/Dana/Monken and something we’ll continue to talk about here on PFB (as OKC Dave did excellently last week).
I just hope, for our sake (and West Virginia’s), national outlets follow suit.
- The biggest problem this year is that OSU isn’t getting turnovers ↩