What’s the opposite of a Quick Strike team that piles up points in the blink of an eye? A defense-first club that forces its opponents to slowly grind out points over a large number of plays. Thus… our Slow Grind measure.
Over the past five years we’ve found that a very efficient way of predicting a team’s success is to look at the number of plays said team forces its foes to run in order to score touchdowns. This is not simply the opposite of our Quick Strike number (basically: points per offensive snap), but a totally different measurement (defensive snaps run for every defensive touchdown allowed).
Simply: How many plays must an offense run — on average — to score a touchdown against a specific defense?
We do not count special teams scores or interception/fumble returns in this equation. This is strictly a look at touchdowns — not total points — allowed by a team as compared to how many snaps a defensive unit was on the field. Still, however, special teams and offensive production do factor in overall. A good special teams unit will pin an opponent deep in its own end, forcing it to string together multiple plays to score (and with each additional snap run, there’s a greater chance for a turnover). Steady, grind-it-out offenses can also eat up clock and limit a foe’s time of possession.
Happily, the folks at ElevenWarriors.com studied our numbers and found them to be quite accurate at predicting Big Ten success just as we’ve found them to correlate nicely with SEC wins. The more we see them applied elsewhere — and the more they work — the better we feel.
Once we get deeper into the season, we’ll look at SEC versus SEC numbers, but for now — so early in the year — we’ll take the numbers from all games against FBS foes into account.
So here’s one of our old favorites, the Slow Grind measure…
|School||Def. TDs Allowed vs FBS|| Def. Plays vs FBS
||Def. Plays/TD Allowed|
* Keep in mind that so far this season SEC defenses are on the field for an average of 69.96 plays per game.
* Hey, I thought Kevin Sumlin was supposed to be an offensive coach. The Aggies — granted against just three FBS foes — are giving up less than a touchdown a game on defense when you simply go by the numbers.
* South Caroilna, Alabama and LSU are all in the top five in the SEC in terms of our Slow Grind measure. No surprise. Those three defenses were expected to rank at the top of the chart before the season started and they likely will when the season comes to a close.
* Hey, I thought Dan Mullen was supposed to be an offensive coach. Like Sumlin at A&M, Mullen’s has to be pleased that his defense is playing as well as it has. One reason the Bulldogs give up so few touchdowns? They turn their opponents over — 15 takeaways total.
* Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas… yikes. When your opponents score a touchdown once every 18 or 19 plays, that’s pretty bad. When they’re scoring once every 13.95 plays — as they are against the Razorbacks — it horrific. The Hog offense is turning the ball over too often, but Paul Haynes’ unit just hasn’t put the brakes on anyone from Jacksonville State right on through Texas A&M last week.