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More Charts: SEC Defensive Play Averages

In case you missed it yesterday, I'm playing around with some tools in Excel to see how I can better mine team data next year.  In the process, I do manage to come up with some graphs and charts that might be of interest, so I'm sharing a few.  Yesterday, I posted charts that show the average yards gained per play by the SEC offenses; today, I'm posting charts that show the average yards ceded per play by the defenses.  Special teams charts are looking unlikely, though; I still haven't found a way of displaying the data that I am comfortable with.  (No, it has nothing to do with UT's special teams performance; that may be uncomfortable, but I'm talking about visual ease of interpretation.)

Like before, I've added a few observations.  They're nothing deep, but that's alright.  If you see anything of interest, please let me know.  Also, if you have any suggestions on the charts, I'm all ears.  This is a work in progress, so feedback is appreciated.

Starting in the West:


Again, a few quick observations:

  • Alabama:  As expected, their defense is quite dominant.  The average over all plays is where most teams wish their offensive rushing averages were.  Rushing against the Tide has proven futile, thanks to a very well-paired nose tackle / middle linebacker combination.  But passing against the Tide is no picnic either; since they don't need to devote extra resources to the rushing game, the bulk of the Tide defense is free to wreck a  pass attack.  Even against Georgia, the averages are the envy of most (ok, all) coaches in the nation.
  • Arkansas:  Arkansas's defensive performance appears inconsistent until you consider the competition.  They have yet to nullify the strength of any decent offense, whether it's rushing (Alabama), passing (Texas), or a balance (Florida).  Only teams that shoot themselves in the foot (Auburn) make this defense look good.
  • Auburn:  Auburn's defensive performance appears quite solid, but has come against mostly inept offenses.  The only viable offense they've faced (LSU) did well, and that with a green quarterback.  It's hard to read the Arkansas game.  The Hogs have been atrocious on offense this year, but have done better in the last two games.  It's possible that offense has turned a corner.

More from the West:


A little more of interest here:

  • LSU:  LSU has reasons to be concerned about their defense.  Their defensive averages against Appy State and North Texas are on par with Alabama's performances against Clemson and Arkansas.  From there, LSU has been increasingly worse on defense.  Except for Florida, the averages aren't too shabby; the problem is that they've come against Auburn and MSU.  Perhaps it's the MNC bullseye.
  • Mississippi:  Ole Miss has been better than expected on defense, with a surprisingly good performance against Wake Forest in North Carolina early.  However, the wheels have been falling off the pass defense lately.  Anybody who cedes 10 yards per pass attempt against South Carolina has matters to tend to.
  • Mississippi State:  MSU has been pretty solid defensively.  The Georgia Tech game was on the road against Paul Johnson's option attack - an offense that's very difficult to prepare for in the span of a week.  The LSU game exposed the pass D somewhat as well.  The big problem for MSU is that they haven't faced many decent offenses.  It's hard to gauge how good this defense really is when you consider the competition.

Ok, now the East:


  • Florida:  Defensively, Florida is solid.  They had that blip against Ole Miss (yay disrespect!), then overcorrected and allowed Arkansas to actually run the ball (surprising if you consider Arkansas's rushing attack).  But overall, this is a good defense that will keep opposing scores low.
  • Georgia:  The strength of the Bulldog defense is its run D.  Nobody has rushed well against UGA.  Their one blip was the whoopsie against Alabama in the passing game, where they routinely got gashed and the pass D average was held down only by the location of the end zone.  But excusing that no-show, this is a great defense.  The game against Florida projects to be a defensive matchup that should entertain the dispassionate observer (and make Vols fans weep).
  • Kentucky:  Cats fans knew the defense had to be strong this season, and they got their wish.  While the offense rebuilds, the defense holds the line well.  Even against Alabama, the performance was respectable.  MTSU surprised them with a well-oiled passing game, but such a surprise should not be expected in conference play, where the Cats know their opponents better.  The only possible exception might be UT; if the Vols can find an offense between now and then, they will probably catch Kentucky completely off-guard.

More from the East:


  • South Carolina:  So much for Cock-'n-Fire; without such a consistent defensive performance, the Gamecocks would be hopeless.  Oddly enough, their worst game came against Wofford, but can probably be written off as a trap game before the epic matchup against UAB.  As it is, wins against South Carolina will likely come from turnovers (yay Berry!) and special teams (come on, Colquitt!).
  • Tennessee:  The UT defense has had a great year, average-wise.  What's not seen in this chart is the number of plays they've faced.  It's one thing to say they hold teams to a 4 yard-per-play average; it's another to note that the 4-ypp average consistently comes on drives of 10+ plays.  This is the legacy of the Mustang package; the defensive averages look great, but the net effect is less than desired.  Nobody even bothers throwing deep against UT, preferring instead to take the short routes, eat the clock, and keep the mighty serviceable lolcat-y offense off the field
  • Vanderbilt:  Good.  Not great, but good.  Effective enough to keep Vandy in all games.  Not effective enough to dominate.  Best numbers against Auburn and MSU.  No big deal there.  Very consistent and disciplined.  Sentence fragments.  Vandy fans's heads.  Explosions.  Vengeance.  Aaaahhh....