Each season we like to put together some efficiency rankings for SEC offenses and defenses. Now into November, each school has played enough in-league games at this point to give us a pretty good idea of just how effective they are on both sides of the ball. But efficiency doesn’t always match the eye test.
Before we dive into the current SEC numbers, know first that these aren’t purely offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. That’s because no unit on a football field goes it alone. Some offenses are aided by good special teams units that provide good field position. Some defenses are constantly put in bad situations by offenses that can’t move the ball and can’t stay on the field. So when you look at the numbers below, remember that these rankings really reveal the strengths and weaknesses of entire teams.
That said, let’s start with the league’s best Quick Strike Offenses (scoring efficiency). We compare the total number of points scored by each team in SEC play (and, yes, some of those are defensive and special teams points) to the total number of offensive snaps run in SEC play. Thus, we’re looking at each team’s ability to put points on the board quickly. The teams are then ranked in terms of the points they score (theoretically) per play run.
Quick Strike Offenses (Scoring Efficiency)
|School||Pts Scored Vs SEC||Off. Snaps Vs SEC||Pts Scored/Off. Snap|
Raise your hand if you thought Texas A&M was the most explosive in terms of scoring points this season. Instead, Alabama’s stifling defense and methodical offense equal the best Quick Strike number in the conference.
Those still doubting Missouri should take note of the fact that the Tigers are actually scoring at a faster clip than LSU, Auburn and Georgia in SEC play. Georgia’s number has been impacted by the loss of so many offensive playmakers over the course of the season.
Moving down the list, it’s a bit surprising to see Vanderbilt is scoring points more easily than Ole Miss. Then again, Vandy is proving to be an opportunistic team (especially with a backup quarterback now thrust into action). The Dores scored on three quickie drives of 22 yards or less following Florida turnovers just last Saturday. Takeaways provide a big boost to teams’ scoring efficiency.
It should be no surprise that the bottom four teams in the league are Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. Three of those schools have first-year head coaches who are having to rebuild rosters done in by poor past recruiting (Arkansas and Kentucky) or attrition from multiple coaching changes (Tennessee). The other school, Florida, might be looking for a new coach this offseason, though they’re scoring efficiency has been impacted by a rash of injuries all over the field.
Now let’s turn to the league’s Slow Grind Defenses (defensive scoring efficiency). If a team’s goal on offense is to score as many points as possible in as few plays as possible, the opposite holds true for defenses. Those teams with stingy defenses, turnover-avoiding offenses, and snazzy special teams units are more likely to force their foes to march longer lengths for their points. The teams below are therefore ranked from best to worst in terms of points allowed (theoretically) per defensive snap run.
Slow Grind Defense (Defensive Scoring Efficiency)
|School||Pts Allowed Vs SEC||Def. Snaps Vs SEC||Pts Allowed/Def. Snap|
OK, no surprise at the tip top of this chart. In SEC play, no team has been more difficult to score upon than Alabama. And that’s including the 42 points Texas A&M hung on the Tide back in September. In their other five SEC contests to date Bama has allowed just 34 points combined. That’s championship good.
Ah, but look at who’s sitting there at #2 in defensive scoring efficiency — Missouri. Third on offense, second on defense, the Tigers are no joke. We believe in them, but the next two weeks their D figures to be tested by Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Florida, despite a tidal wave of injuries, still ranks third in this category followed by — surprise, surprise — Auburn. The Tiger offense certainly drives the bus for Gus Malzahn’s team, but the Plainsmen have been a bit tougher to score on than one might think. But are they stingy enough on defense to capture the West Division crown?
Moving down the list, LSU and Georgia are dealing with too much youth on defense while Texas A&M’s D has probably cost the Aggies a shot at the national championship.
And once again, the three schools with new coaches who didn’t inherit four years of top recruiting classes — a la Malzahn — sit at the bottom of the league. Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas are joined by a Mississippi State team that allowed seven touchdowns to Texas A&M and eight to LSU. Yes, those kinds of days will kill your efficiency numbers.