A quick admission at the start of this one: It’s mucho frustrating to spend time digging up statistics, analyzing them, and then posting the numbers and the views for free… only to have the first comment beneath said post inevitably be, “Yeah, but I want to see a different stat.” My first thought is to tell said commenter that he’s got just as much time and just as much access to stats as I do. He can look up on his own stats if he prefers them to what’s been provided by MrSEC.com.
(And, yes, I know that many a smart aleck will now start posting such comments under every single statistical piece we provide.)
Yesterday, a regular reader looked at our exploration into the current state of SEC defenses and wondered if our facts and figures really meant much of anything at all. His thinking being: Scoring is up because teams are running more plays in their hurry-up offenses. (We showed that the majority of SEC defenses were also poorer in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and total yards allowed.). So the reader wanted to know if SEC defenses were allowing more yards per play than they were a year ago.
The “yeah, but” might’ve been a little annoying, but that didn’t make the reader’s point any less interesting. So I took the bait and looked up the numbers.
Know what I found?
Yep, SEC defenses are worse in that statistic, too. You can see for yourself below how each squad has done versus BCS-level competition this season and how they did last season. Italics denotes a poorer number than a year ago.
SEC Yards-Allowed-Per-Play Vs BCS-Level Foes
That’s 10 of the 14 SEC schools that are allowing more yards per play than they did a season ago. Congrats to Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss. Everyone else — including top-ranked Alabama — has moved in the wrong direction.
Now, as was posted on this site yesterday, this could just be a one-year blip. The league is filled with veteran quarterbacks and a number of the SEC’s strongest programs have had to use more youth on defense this year due to attrition. That’s a combustible mix when it comes to offensive output.
Also, it’s still early in the season and the sample of SEC versus BCS-level foes is small. These digits could change as we get deeper into the season.
But it’s also possible that the breakneck pace of today’s up-tempo offenses is finally taking a toll on SEC defenses. When double-digit SEC defenses go South — no pun intended — across five different statistical categories all in the exact same year, it seems likely that there must be some sort of “big picture” change at play.
We can debate the causes, but one thing is certain — no matter how you slice it, SEC defenses are off to a bad start in 2013.