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Defenses Down Across The SEC

mrsec stat analysis newOne of the storylines we followed all season was the downturn in defense in the Southeastern Conference.  As far back as October 1st we were alerting you to the league’s Great Defensive Drop-Off in 2013.

We also pointed out that the league’s downturn “could make (BCS) title-chasing tougher for the SEC.”  We suspected that might happen down the road if this was a shift and not a one-year glitch.  As it turns out, the SEC is already on the outside looking in at the BCS Championship Game as we head into the final weekend of the regular season.

Below are each SEC teams defensive numbers from 2012 and 2013.  To keep things even, we looked only at SEC versus SEC games; no non-conference contests were counted.  Data from last year’s SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia was included. Survey the damage for yourselves…


  School / Season   Yds Allowed   Yds/Play Allowed   Yds/Game Allowed
  Alabama ’12   2432   4.24   270.2
  Alabama ’13   2455 (+23)   5.11 (+0.87)   306.9 (+36.7)
  Arkansas ’12   3194   6.05   399.3
  Arkansas ’13   3802 (+608)   6.86 (+0.81)   475.3 (+76.0)
  Auburn ’12   3595   6.55   449.4
  Auburn ’13   3665 (+70)   6.26 (-0.29)   458.1 (+8.7)
  Florida ’12   2255   4.18   281.9
  Florida ’13   2469 (+214)   5.09 (+0.91)   308.6 (+26.7)
  Georgia ’12   3157   5.29   350.8
  Georgia ’13   3115 (-45)   5.68 (+0.39)   389.4 (+38.6)
  Kentucky ’12   3392   5.95   424.0
  Kentucky ’13   3728 (+336)   6.75 (+0.80)   466.0 (+42.0)
  LSU ’12   2648   4.85   331.0
  LSU ’13   3195 (+547)   5.73 (+0.88)   399.4 (+68.4)
  Miss. State ’12   3190   5.80   398.8
  Miss. State ’13   3231 (+41)   5.96 (+0.16)   403.9 (+5.1)
  Missouri ’12   3266   5.79   408.3
  Missouri ’13   3031 (-235)   5.11 (-0.68)   378.9 (-29.4)
  Ole Miss ’12   3127   5.61   390.9
  Ole Miss ’13   3380 (+253)   5.80 (+0.19)   422.5 (+31.6)
  S. Carolina ’12   2419   4.57   302.4
  S. Carolina ’13   2774 (+355)   5.50 (+0.93)   346.8 (+44.4)
  Tennessee ’12   3921   6.68   490.1
  Tennessee ’13   3338 (-583)   6.08 (-0.60)   417.3 (-72.8)
  Texas A&M ’12   3143   5.54   392.9
  Texas A&M ’13   3993 (+850)   6.66 (+1.12)   499.1 (+106.2)
  Vanderbilt ’12   2870   5.23   358.8
  Vanderbilt ’13   3213 (+343)   5.39 (+0.16)   401.6 (+42.8)


Out of a total of 42 defensive statistics across the SEC, only eight (marked in green) improved over a year ago.  And one of those improvements — Georgia’s overall yards-allowed number — was due only to the fact that UGA played eight league games this year instead of nine (as they did when they played in the title game a year ago).

Other than that, Auburn’s yards-allowed-per-play figure dropped.  Missouri’s numbers improved across the board.  So did Tennessee’s.

That’s it for the improvements.

Twelve of the SEC’s 14 schools allowed more yards per game than they did a season ago.  Eleven SEC schools gave up more yardage in SEC play than they did last year.  And 11 league teams surrendered more yards per play than they did in 2012.

Why is the SEC not sitting pretty as usual in the national title hunt?  Because the very thing that has given the SEC an advantage in seven straight BCS title games declined this season — defense.  Was this just a fluky year filled with young defenses and veteran quarterbacks?  Or was is it the start of a trend brought on by the proliferation of no-huddle spread attacks inside the SEC?  Fans (and coaches) of the Southeastern Conference had better hope it’s the former.  The latter would signal a DNA change that could cost the SEC the one great advantage it’s held over everyone else in recent years.



C'mon, this is why SEC is not in control of being in the championship game? Wow, that is a stretch, since these are SEC vs SEC numbers only. How about because there is a smaller gap between the haves and have nots in the SEC as compared to last year? Or simply, Alabama wasn't as strong and as well coached this year and caused them to lose a game while the weak conferences (ACC and B10) have a team that rose above the others to have an unblemished record? Throw in a little SEC fatigue and human voters will cling to any excuse to keep 2 very weak schedules that produced up to now 2 undefeated seasons.

Here's the more alarming concern for SEC, especially if considering a 9 game schedule. With the new playoff selection committee you are seeing a glimpse of the playoffs. Human perception that will award the conference champions of B10, SEC, P12/B12 and then pick between ACC and the rest. Taking on a 9th SEC conference game will just make it easier to keep a 2nd, worthy SEC team out of the playoffs because "conference champions" will ALWAYS trump stronger teams that did not win their conference. The 9th conference game will NOT be helpful to a selection committee, it will just give the SEC more opportunity to take a loss.


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