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Latest News Stat Analysis: Slow Grind 11/15/12

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 the exact 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 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.

With the season now in its final month, we used numbers from SEC games only to arrive at our rankings.  Without further ado, our Slow Grind measure:


  School   TDs Allowed Vs SEC   Defensive Plays   Plays/TD Allowed
  Florida (7-1)   10   539   53.90
  Alabama (6-1)   10   464   46.40
  Georgia (7-1)   15   525   35.00
  LSU (4-2)   13   391   30.07
  Vanderbilt (4-3)   16   475   29.68
  Texas A&M (5-2)   17   493   29.00
  S. Carolina (6-2)   20   529   26.45
  Ole Miss (2-4)   18   417   23.16
  Miss. State (3-3)   18   409   22.72
  Arkansas (2-4)   22   391   17.77
  Missouri (2-5)   27   472   17.48
  Auburn (0-7)   28   480   17.14
  Kentucky (0-7)   31   504   16.25
  Tennessee (0-6)   33   435   13.18


Anyone shocked to see that the three worst defensive teams in the league are a combined 0-20 in SEC play?  Didn’t think so.  Some other observations:

*  Alabama’s defense hasn’t looked so tough against the passing attacks of LSU and Texas A&M the past two weeks.  The Crimson Tide’s plays-to-TDs-allowed ratio has actually taken such a precipitous drop that Florida now ranks as the league’s toughest defense to score against.

*  As we noted in this week’s Quick Strike breakdown, LSU and Vanderbilt’s SEC records should be worse based upon their offensive production.  The chart above makes it clear that their defenses have played well enough to support better overall league marks… if not dragged down by their offenses.


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