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SEC Defensive Efficiency Rankings – 10/18/11

Here at we enjoy sifting through the facts and figures and box scores of SEC football.  Occasionally, you can stumble across a number that provides a true measure of a team’s success.  One such stat is Scoring Efficiency which we looked at earlier today.  Another is Defensive Efficiency.  That one, we’ll look at right here.

Defensive Efficiency takes into account every part of a football team, not just a squad’s defensive unit.  Special teams that pin opponents deep improve the DE number.  Ditto an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over and provide opponents with short fields to work with.  And of course, the D, has a little something to do with this statistic, too.

The best teams usually are those that force opposing teams to work harder for every point they score.  So when it comes to Defensive Efficiency, we’re measuring the number of yards per point allowed.  The lower the number, the worse a team’s record is likely to be.  The higher the number, the better a team’s record should be.

Below are the numbers from this season’s SEC games.  We don’t count non-conference games because strength of schedule varies from school to school.  We look only at in-conference games.  Guess which two teams are the toughest to score upon:


Rank   School (Conf. Record)   Total Def. Yards Allowed   Total Points Allowed   Yards/Point Allowed
1 LSU (4-0) 800 31 25.80
2 Alabama (4-0) 779 31 25.12
3 S. Carolina (4-1) 1263 76 16.61
4 Auburn (3-1) 1452 91 15.95
5 Vanderbilt (1-3) 1463 95 15.40
6 Arkansas (1-1) 792 52 15.23
7 Miss. State (0-4) 1346 98 13.73
8 Ole Miss (0-3) 1477 109 13.55
9 Georgia (4-1) 1410 108 13.05
10 Florida (2-3) 1675 129 12.98
11 Tennessee (0-3) 1096 91 12.04
12 Kentucky (0-3) 1507 137 11.00


Quick Observations:

* Alabama and LSU just couldn’t be more evenly matched.  They’re similar in talent and style of play and their stats are even eerily similar.  Through four conference games, both squads have allowed just 31 points.  If you’re not looking forward to their epic clash on November 5th you’re just not a football fan.

* If you’re looking for a surprise, check out the numbers for Auburn.  The Tigers have given up yards inbuckets — especially when you figure in their games with Utah State and Clemson — but Ted Roof’s bunch has shown some improvement in recent weeks.  Of course, facing a struggling Stephen Garcia and a Florida team with a pair of true freshman QBs didn’t hurt.

* There’s a reason Vanderbilt is move competitive this year.  The Commodores are middle of the pack in Scoring Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency half way through their league schedule.  James Franklin’s first-year record might not be a thing of beauty, but the Commodores have improved on his watch.

* Georgia’s defense ranks pretty well in most categories.  So why are the Dawgs ranked so low in this measure of yards per point allowed?  Because 41 of the 108 points they’ve allowed in conference play have come on punt returns, kick returns, interception returns and fumble returns.  This is a team measure.  And UGA’s special teams and offensive units have been letting down their defensive counterparts.

* Florida hasn’t been anywhere near as stingy as prognosticators expected (and that includes us).  But playing Alabama and LSU in consecutive weeks will hurt any team’s numbers.  Let’s check back in at the end of the season and see if the Gators haven’t improved upon their current state.



Interesting, but I'm not sure about this. I bet Arkansas's 2009 defense, which was the one that started all the talk around Arkansas having no defense, would have ranked high for that year, because that defense gave up a lot more yards then points. Despite that, I still think this year's defense is better.

Maybe I'll compare them later.


I have enjoyed your website for more than a year..Great content and all things considered, pretty balalnced...But after hearing on Nashville radio today and reading many of your short commentaries after subject links, you are obviously not willing to give Coach Chizik any credit. As posted above, the only reason AU did good against SC and Fla was because of no Bratley, and Garcia..What about Arky on the road?...Also today you were asked by the radio host about Chizik's penchant for winning close games and it was all because the other teams are bad. I don't expect a lovefest but atleast give the team and coaching staff some credit for making lemonade out of lemons. More than 30 freshman and sophmores are playing on a team without its leading two receivers, arguably best o-lineman, another d-lineman out for season. But it is the other teams stink...At what point does it stop becoming a trend to win close games and fight to the finish and become a good coaching job?...I realize they will probably get rolled this weekend but even with a loss anda close game can they get some recongnition?remember bama has to come to the Plains last game of the year..Anything can happen..

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

Interesting that TN is fourth in yards allowed and tied for 5th in points allowed, but is next to last in this measure.


Vol Guest...

True. And judging by UT's record you can see why we like this stat. It reveals more -- usually -- than simple stats like total defense and scoring defense.

Thanks for reading,


Steve D...

As we said, this is a measure of an entire team's ability to keep opponents out of the end zone. We specifically note that Georgia's defense has been good... but as a team they've been giving up points on returns of all kinds.

So when playing Georgia, their defense might be tough but their special teams and offensive units tend to make costly errors.


Steve D
Steve D

I suppose what I'm getting at, John, is why not consider defensive yards allowed and return yards allowed. Your measure is designed to reflect all aspects of the team. Right now a defense which allows a 90-yard TD drive (12.86 yds per pt) is somehow more efficient than a defense which allows a 25-yard TD drive (3.57 ypp) thanks to a fumble return. Or worse, a pick 6 which mathematically (0 yards allowed/7 points allowed) cannot be calculated.

Don't misinterpret this. I enjoy out of the box thinking and ways at measuring statistics ... sort of a Moneyball approach. I just think you should include return yards allowed if you are going to count Georgia's 41 points from returns against a defense which was not on the field at the time those points were scored.

Thanks... Steve

Steve D
Steve D

Isn't this an imperfect measure? How do you account for TDs scored via fumble or interception? Those count as "points allowed" even though the defense and special teams had nothing to do with it.


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