[Update - The BCS Champions' Ranks and Values have been added at the end of this Post.] The Answers to blu3tick’s specific question are nothing short of jaw-dropping. All he wanted to do was to compare Arkansas’ 2009 Defensive rankings with those of the BCS Champions over the last 10 years.
It’s a slightly different tact than I’ve taken with comparing Arkansas’ 2009 numbers to a composite SEC West Champion. Ultimately, his question asks what the performance standards of the BCS Champions are in order to define where Arkansas needs to improve to be the BCS Champion.
Because of the way that the data is presented, getting both the offensive and defensive data together was much easier than trying to pull out the defensive information alone from the NCAA’s website, so it wasn’t more difficult to produce averages for Offensive Categories in addition to the Defensive Categories.
Personally, I didn’t think that blu3tick’s thought of seeing Arkansas’s Defense to improve to 45th sounded too bad. It would be a reasonable improvement, but like his reaction, I really wasn’t too thrilled to see the likes of Central Florida, Buffalo, New Mexico, University of Ohio, San Diego St., and Utah St. ranked at 45th. Aaaaaah, yeaaah, ummmaaaaah, well, I THINK I’ll go any place else but here! It’s like a scene from the old Norm McDonald Show where Norm’s heavy drinking finally has him going to a center where a bunch of 12 step programs were about to start. Norm the slacker never paid attention to the room he was supposed to be in, so he picks one and sits down just as the meeting comes to order. As the new face at the meeting, he’s called to introduce himself and admit his addiction which he bravely does. As the meeting continues, much to his horror, Norm realizes he’s attending a necrophiliacs’s anonymous meeting. He backs out of the room stumbling and saying, “I TAKE THAT BACK…. I AM better than YOU ARE!”
Maybe a little more effort needs to be made to reach No. 44 or 34.
If you averaged together the rankings of the BCS Champions from 2000 through 2009 in each of the categories which follow, you’d certainly need to be in the Top 15 or Top 20 in each, right?
Pass Efficiency Defense
Tackles for Loss
With all of the football I’ve played and watched and studied, what developed in answer to blu3tick’s question wasn’t what I expected.
In two of those categories, would you believe that the AVERAGE RANK of the BCS Champions is actually ABOVE 45th Nationally? An astute person might say, “Of course one of those is kickoff returns.” Really, there are three categories where the BCS Champions’ average rank is above 45th, and kickoff returns is one of them. Pick two others.
In four other categories, two of which are really important, the average BCS Champion (sounds odd) ranks higher than 25. Which two are BCS Champions only “pretty good” at?
On the other hand, is there support for the old adage, “Defense wins Championships?”
I don’t give a rat’s a** about what “they” say unless “they” are correct.
|Ark. '09 Rank||Ark. Value||Avg. BCS Champ Rank||Avg. BCS Champ Value|
|Tackles for Loss **||30||6.5||53.6||6.2|
|Sacks Allowed **||57||1.9||33||1.5|
|Pass Efffeciency Def.||92||137.9||6.2||94.6|
Sort Above using ^
** Data includes only 2005-2009. NCAA began publishing these categories in 2005.
Does a BCS Champion’s Defense get in its opponent’s backfield with the best of them? Apparently not. The average rank for Tackles for a Loss is an ungodly 54th in the nation.
I would have called you a liar before today if you told me that the average BCS Champion would be ranked above 47th in the country in Passing Offense.
And being outside of the top 25% of all 120 D-I teams is where the Average BCS Champion sits in terms of getting to their opponents’ quarterbacks or in allowing opposing teams to get to their quarterback.
The other offensive bookend, Rushing Offense, has an average rank of just over 25th. In terms of yardage per game, apparently being ranked 25th and 47th are good enough for a Champion offense. Unbelievable.
Total Offense and Pass Defense are at least with the Top 25 rankings. I was beginning to wonder why Arkansas didn’t have a BCS trophy under Houston Nutt.
Turnover margin is a respectable 16th for the Champions.
Only with Passing Efficiency, Scoring Offense and Rushing Defense do the Champions move into the Top 15 rankings.
Where the BCS Champions excel is indeed on Defense. In terms of Total Defense, that’s yards per game, the BCS Champions rank about 8th collectively. On average they’ll be 6th in Passing Efficiency Defense.
What’s left is the most important number of all.
The BCS Champion averages 5th nationally in Scoring Defense allowing fewer than 14 points per game.
Let’s put this into perspective.
A Champion Defense is better at defending the pass than it is in getting into the opponent’s backfield. Does that mean that dropping back on defense is actually better or that coverage is more important than sacks?
For that matter, why are the Champion offenses not among the top at protecting their own quarterbacks? Implicit in this part of the profile is that you need a tough quarterback, multiple quarterbacks, or a better passing offense.
A 47th Ranked Passing Offense produces 232 yards on average while a 25th ranked Rushing Offense produces about 198 yards per game, and the combination of the two fits the profile of a BCS Champion.
So really, the balanced offense needs to be more balanced in favor of the passing game.
Champions are winning with a 5th ranked Defense and a 14th ranked Offense.
In terms of total defense over the last 10 years, 40% of the National Champions have been ranked No. 1 or 2 in defense at the end of the year. Add two more if you raise the bar to Top 5 defenses. Three more for Top 10 defenses. 9 out of the last 10 had defenses which were in the Top 10.
I was shocked to see that 5 of the 10 had offenses outside the Top 10 in scoring. Three of them were outside the Top 20.
LSU in 2007 was the only team from the last 10 years which had both its offense and defense outside the Top 10 in scoring and won a Championship.
To answer blu3tick’s question, Arkansas’ Defense has a herculean gap to close, and it starts with pass defense.
Please feel free to add your observations below.
Thanks for reading. — SharpTusk
|Rush OFF Rk||Rush OFF V||Pass OFF Rk||Pass OFF V||Tot. OFF Rk||Tot. OFF V||Scoring OFF Rk||Scoring OFF V||Pass Eff. Rk||Pass Eff. V||Sacks All. Rk **||Sacks All. V **|
|'02 OH St.||31||191.29||92||173.21||70||364.5||41||29.29||10||146.05|
** Stats Not Published ’00-’04
|Rushing DEF Rk||Rushing DEF V||Pass Eff. DEF. Rk||Pass Efff. DEF V||Tot. DEF. Rk.||Tot. DEF V.||Scoring DEF Rk.||Scoring DEF V||Pass DEF Rk.||Pass DEF V||TO Margin Rk.||TO Margin V||Sacks Rk **||Sacks V **||Tackles for Loss Rk**||Tackles for Loss V**|
|'02 OH St.||3||77.71||32||111.94||23||320.86||2||13.07||95||243.14||18||0.93|
** Stats Not Published ’00-’04
|Net Punt Rk||Net Punt V||Punt Ret. Rk||Punt Ret. V||KO Ret Rk||KO Ret V|
|'02 OH St.||13||37.3||84||8.3||55||20.2|