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Latest News Stat Analysis: Slow Grind 11/8/12

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:


  Schools   TDs Allowed   Def. Plays   Plays/TD Allowed
  Alabama (6-0)   6   387   64.50
  Florida (7-1)   10   539   53.90
  Georgia (6-1)   15   476   31.73
  Texas A&M (4-2)   14   428   30.57
  LSU (3-2)   11   328   29.81
  Vanderbilt (3-3)   14   385   27.50
  S. Carolina (5-2)   18   461   25.60
  Ole Miss (2-3)   15   346   23.06
  Miss. State (3-2)   15   341   22.70
  Missouri (1-5)   20   381   19.05
  Arkansas (2-3)   18   325   18.05
  Auburn (0-6)   23   413   17.95
  Kentucky (0-7)   31   504   16.25
  Tennessee (0-5)   27   353   13.07



*  The five best teams in the SEC in our Slow Grind measure are a combined 26-6 in SEC play.  The bottom five teams have a combined in-conference record of 3-26.  Taking things further, the three worst teams in the league in terms of this touchdowns-versus-plays-allowed stat are 0-18 in SEC games this season.

*  Between the #3 defense and the #13 defense in the SEC, there is a natural stair-step progression.  But Florida and Alabama (on top of the standings) and Tennessee (on the bottom) are all much better or much worse than their league rivals.  To put things in perspective, an SEC defense runs — on average — about 67 snaps per game.  That means Florida and Alabama allow just about one offensive touchdown per game in league play.  Tennessee, on the other hand, gives up about five offensive touchdowns per game against SEC competition.  (Ask Troy and you’ll find that the Vols aren’t too snazzy outside the SEC, either.)  Florida and Alabama give up about half as many offensive scores in SEC action as the next best defense in the league (Georgia).  Tennessee is worse than both Auburn and Kentucky and gives up a touchdown once every 13 snaps of the ball.  In five years of crunching these numbers, that’s about as bad a ratio as we’ve seen at this stage of a season.



The Florida game killed Carolina in this stat. Because of the turnovers in our own territory, Florida started in the red zone 2 or 3 times. Made it easy for them to score. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



True, but if you read the story accompanying the chart you'll see that we say this is a TEAM measure, not just a defensive measure for all the reasons you mentioned.


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