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SEC Defenses Giving Up More 500-Yard Games… So Is The League Trending Down?

Longtime fans of Southeastern Conference football aren’t used to seeing scores like “Georgia 51, Tennessee 44″ scroll across the ticker beneath their favorite school’s game.  They aren’t used to seeing SEC defenses riddled for 500 or more yards on what seems like a weekly basis.

So what gives?  Are SEC defenses in 2012 just not up to snuff in terms of the league’s recent history?  Well, it depends on what numbers you choose to study.

For example, the 14 SEC defenses of 2012 gave up more 500-yard games to opposing offenses during the month of September than the 12 SEC defenses of 2011 gave up all of last year.  That’s an amazing tidbit in itself:


500-yard Games vs SEC Defenses

  2012   2011
  Game   Yds Allowed      Game    Yds Allowed
  Texas A&M vs Arkansas   716   S. Carolina vs Kentucky   639
  Texas vs Ole Miss   676   Texas A&M vs Arkansas   628
  Troy vs Miss. State   572   Clemson vs Auburn   624
  Georgia vs Vanderbilt   567   Alabama vs Ole Miss   615
  Georgia vs Tennessee   560   Arkansas vs Miss. State   539
  Florida vs Tennessee   555   W. Virginia vs LSU   533
  La-Monroe vs Arkansas   550   Miss. State vs Auburn   531
  Clemson vs Auburn   528   Georgia vs Auburn   528
  Rutgers vs Arkansas   525   Florida vs Kentucky   520
  Arkansas vs Texas A&M   515


Ah, ha!  So that means SEC defenses are worse, right?  Not exactly.  In fact, five of the 10 500-yard games allowed have been given up by just two league teams — Arkansas (three) and Tennessee (two).  As a whole, the league still stacks up pretty closely with the numbers of yards- and points-per-game allowed over the past few seasons.


SEC Scoring Defense 2009-2012

  Season   2009   2010   2011   2012
  Points Allowed   3,250   3,691   3,209   1,356
  Games Played   156   156   155   65
  Points Allowed/Game   20.83   23.66   20.70   20.86


As you can see, SEC defenses in September gave up about the same number of points per game as they did during the entire seasons of 2009 and 2011.  Only the 2010 season saw a jump in points allowed.  (Call it the Cam Newton effect.)

This year’s numbers are also right on target when it comes to yards allowed per game.


SEC Total Defense 2009-2012

  Season   2009   2010   2011   2012
  Yards Allowed   51,296   54,645   49,720   22,402
  Games Played   156   156   155   65
  Yards Allowed/Game   328.82   350.28   320.77   344.64


SEC defenses are allowing more yards per contest this season than in either 2009 or 2011.  But the numbers aren’t showing a giant spike.  In fact, the per-game average is still below that of the 2010 season.

The month of September featured a number of 500+ yard games against SEC defenses.  There’s no denying that fact.  And that fact has led many to jump to the conclusion that the league — overall — is weakening on that side of the ball.  But upon closer inspection, the Southeastern Conference’s numbers are right in the same general ballpark as usual.

In other words, don’t go hitting any panic buttons just yet.  And don’t let your friend who’s a fan of another conference do too much tongue-wagging, either.



@MrSEC In the SEC vs SEC games you might want to indicate (put in bold or italics) which team gave up the 500 yards.


@Crimson_4_Life The first team is the one gaining 500 yards vs the second team. "500-yd gms vs SEC Defenses"... ie: Troy vs MSU, Clem vs Aub


@MrSEC Thanks, I read it as the standard visitor vs home. I should have looked at where the games were played.


There are several options to look at. First, this is the most experienced and talented group of QB's we have had in the league for a while. So it would be safe to assume that the more talent you have on the offensive side of the ball the more production you would have. Second, the sport as a whole has put a crack down on aggressive tackling and hits. If you have a defense player hesitate for a second on a tackle or change his angle to keep from taking someone's head off, then it could result in a missed tackle and thus a big play. Third - teams like TN are breaking in new defensive schemes and that results in some major mistakes. Fourth - I have always assumed that defenses got better as the season progressed because they learn not only what they can do, but learn what to expect from the offenses. Fifth, can you really count Arkansas in those stats?


Interesting article. What I do not like is that the SEC defenses are giving up 500+ yards to non-Conference teams. That is the more alarming stat. This year, we have given up 500+ yards to 5 non-conference teams vs. all of last year only 3 (assuming you count A&M as non-conference last year).


Yes, but since September is cupcake month I would think the number would be lower than a yearly average.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



If it were the cupcakes running up the yardage, then it would be a bigger issue.  But five of the games this year were SEC-on-SEC crime.  Texas and Clemson are ranked foes.


I think we're looking at the numbers shaking out right about normal again this year, but we'll see.  As another commenter has mentioned, the league has a number of talented quarterbacks capable of making plays and that could cause a slight increase in yardage or scoring over time.


We'll see.


Thanks for reading,


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