If the goal of the offense is to score quickly, the goal of the defense is to make opposing offenses grind to a halt. Few scores, slow movement. We’ve found a way to measure a team’s effectiveness at smothering opposing offenses. We call it our Slow Grind Ratings system.
Much like our Quick Strike Ratings for offense, we compare touchdowns scored to plays run. In this case, we take the total number of snaps played by a defense (against BCS foes) and compare that number to the total number of offensive touchdowns allowed (to BCS foes).
This system also measures a team’s overall effectiveness. A team with a good offense and good special teams will have have a better ranking in our Slow Grind Ratings because their opponents will have further to go to score touchdowns. On the flipside, if a team’s offense continually turns the ball over, the fact that opponents work with short fields will hurt that team’s defense.
So here’s a look at which teams make it most difficult for their opponents to score touchdowns:
SLOW GRIND RATINGS
|| Def. Snaps
|| Def. TDs Allowed
||Plays Per TD Allowed
* Folks can talk about Auburn — and the Tigers are very good — but Alabama is still the SEC’s most-complete team. Oh, we’ll rank AU on top of our MrSEC Hot List because they’re undefeated, but Bama is still the hardest team to score on (giving up a touchdown just once out of every 45 plays!) and they’re the best at scoring, too. This year’s Iron Bowl is shaping up to be an absolute classic. The league’s best team battling the league’s best player. (Sidenote — Can I use the word “battling” or will someone be offended that I made a war reference?)
* If you’re wondering how Mississippi State is 6-2 and bowl eligible with a legitimate shot at winning eight or nine games, look no further than the Bulldogs’ defense. That 10-7 win at Florida in which State used a playbook from 1924? Credit Manny Diaz’ unit for that win. State has played just four BCS opponents so far, but in those four games they’ve allowed just 6 touchdowns.
* Kudos have to go out to Vandy defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant as well. The Commodores offense can’t score and that’s put a lot of pressure on Bryant’s unit. Yet the ‘Dores’ defense ranks in the middle of the SEC pack allowing a touchdown to an opponent just once out of every 22.45 plays. That’s great work considering the field position they’re often left to deal with.
* If SEC fans are looking for hope when sizing up Auburn, the Tigers’ defense provides it. Tiger opponents score a touchdown once every 19.52 plays. That’s a solid number for a seven- or eight-win football team, but it’s astoundingly low for a team that’s unbeaten and ranked #1 in the BCS standings. The Tigers have a clear Achilles’ heel… if anyone can slow down Cam Newton enough to expose it.
* The bottom four in our Slow Grind Ratings each have their own Halloween horror tale to tell. Ole Miss was expected to be pretty good on defense, but Tyrone Nix’s squad has actually been the Rebels’ biggest problem. Call them the Jekyll and Hyde of the league. Arkansas’ defense has given up more than 1,000 yards in its last two games. Do I really need to explain why I call them vampires? Tennessee is Frankenstein’s monster at this point… a hodge-podge of spare parts (better known as walk-ons and freshmen) all thrown together and expected (by fans at least) to work. And then there’s Kentucky. The Wildcats’ numbers were hurt by last Saturday’s turnover-fueled loss to Georgia. But allowing a touchdown every 14.5 plays? They’re the Invisible Man of SEC defenses.