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Hurry Up Defense (part 3)

Alright, that’s enough dwelling on our defensive futility, let’s examine the brightspot of 2011, the offensive side of the ball. Last time we looked at how our defense performed “per possession” over the past few years. Now we are going to look at the offense.

First, let’s review through Part 2 by the numbers:

The average defensive rank of the “top ten team in plays run” is 82.3

The average defensive rank of a “top ten team in plays run” over the past 5 years is 60.3

In the first year of Malzahn’s offensive philosophy Auburn’s defense dropped 58 spots to 73.

In the first year in Morris’ offensive philosophy, Clemson’s defense dropped 70 spots to 81

In 2011, Clemson’s defense dropped in “stop rate per possession” 6.25%

In year one in Malzahn’s system, Auburn’s defense dropped in “stop rate per possession” 10.57%

Auburn’s National Championship defense out-performed Clemson 2011 “per possession” by 1.82%

Oregon’s National Runner –Up defense out-performed Clemson 2011 by 10.36%

The logic here remains the same as Part 1-2. The offense and the defense are married to each other and work together to help the team win. Their effectiveness is linked together. If the defense can get off the field quickly, it increases the effectiveness of our offense by creating more stress for the opposing defense and more possessions for them to defend.

Therefore, an ineffective defense is a contributor to lower offensive performance. With our offensive system, it is a bigger advantage to get quick stops and turnovers because they create a “Snowball Effect” that allows us to bury teams by scoring points in bunches.

We saw in part 1 where we were 49th in turnovers forced with 23. We saw in part 2 that our defensive effectiveness dropped from 70.89% to 66.64%. These are not numbers that support a defense significantly helping this style of offense. We did get off the field a slight bit faster in 2011, 5.45 plays per drive in 2011 compared to 5.52 in 2010 (The teams I looked at all fall between 4 and 6 plays per drive). We only fall within the norm there. We are not exceptional by any means…but you knew that about our defense already.

Still, when it comes to winning, we win “Offense First.” It is critical that our HUNH offense imposes their will and dominates the opposing defense because 1. They are creating more opportunities for the opponent’s offense and 2.There is typically going to be some level of defensive drop-off by running more plays.

Clemson’s 2011 offense fits that bill from a perception standpoint and is regarded as the potent force of this year’s ACC Championship team. “His Chadness” injected a new offensive identity, sped up the game, and used our talented skill players to make big plays and score more points.

Still, it would be nice to see that reflected with an increase of “per possession” effectiveness and to see proof “per possession” that we are better than some of the other good teams out there.

So, we put the offense through the same “per possession” evaluation as the defense. This time it is “Score Rate Per Possession.” You know the drill from part 2 so let’s check it game by game from 2009 to 2011. Totals are at the bottom

2009:

CLEMSON Vs.

TDs

Drives

TD%

TDs + FGs

Score %

Mid Tenn St.

2

14

14.29%

5

35.71%

Georgia Tech

3

15

20.00%

5

33.33%

Boston College

0

15

0.00%

6

40.00%

TCU

1

11

9.09%

2

18.18%

Maryland

1

13

7.69%

3

23.08%

Wake Forest

5

13

38.46%

6

46.15%

Miami

3

12

25.00%

5

41.67%

Coastal Car.

7

12

58.33%

7

58.33%

Florida St.

6

13

46.15%

6

46.15%

NC St.

6

11

54.55%

7

63.64%

Virginia

4

11

36.36%

6

54.55%

South Carolina

1

12

8.33%

2

16.67%

Georgia Tech

5

9

55.56%

5

55.56%

Kentucky

3

9

33.33%

3

33.33%

Totals

47

170

27.65%

68

40.00%

2010:

CLEMSON Vs.

TDs

Drives

%

TDs + FGs

Score %

North Texas

5

12

41.67%

5

41.67%

Presbyterian

8

15

53.33%

9

60.00%

Auburn

3

13

23.08%

4

30.77%

Miami

3

18

16.67%

3

16.67%

UNC

2

11

18.18%

3

27.27%

Maryland

2

12

16.67%

3

25.00%

Ga. Tech

3

10

30.00%

5

50.00%

Boston College

0

9

0.00%

1

11.11%

NC. St

2

12

16.67%

2

16.67%

Florida St.

1

9

11.11%

3

33.33%

Wake Forest

3

10

30.00%

6

60.00%

South Carolina

1

14

7.14%

1

7.14%

South Florida

3

13

23.08%

5

38.46%

Totals

36

158

22.78%

50

31.65%

2011:

CLEMSON Vs.

TDs

Drives

TD%

TDs + FGs

Score %

Troy

5

16

31.25%

8

50.00%

Wofford

5

13

38.46%

5

38.46%

Auburn

5

11

45.45%

6

54.55%

Florida St.

5

13

38.46%

5

38.46%

Virginia Tech

3

13

23.08%

4

30.77%

Boston College

3

11

27.27%

8

72.73%

Maryland

6

14

42.86%

8

57.14%

UNC

6

16

37.50%

7

43.75%

Ga. Tech

2

12

16.67%

3

25.00%

Wake Forest

4

13

30.77%

5

38.46%

NC St.

1

15

6.67%

3

20.00%

South Carolina

1

11

9.09%

3

27.27%

Virginia Tech

5

12

41.67%

6

50.00%

West Virginia

4

16

25.00%

6

37.50%

Totals

55

186

29.57%

77

41.40%

So in summary:

In 2009, Clemson scored in 40.00% of drives and a TD in 27.65% of drives, OADR 54.8

In 2010, Clemson scored in 31.65% of drives and a TD in 22.78% of drives, OADR 45.3

In 2011, Clemson scored in 41.40% of drives and a TD in 29.57% of drives, OAOR 49.7

Now let’s look at Auburn and their similar offensive philosophy in the same way:

In 2008, Auburn scored in 19.23% of drives and a TD in 12.18% of drives, OADR 44.1

In 2009, Auburn scored in 40.51% of drives and a TD in 31.01% of drives, OADR 44.1

In 2010, Auburn scored in 53.37% of drives and a TD in 44.17% of drives, OADR 45.8

In 2011, Auburn scored in 32.89% of drives and a TD in 24.34% of drives, OADR 41.6

The OADR is that team’s “opponent’s average defensive ranking” (the lower number the better the defensive competition).

When you look at the offensive improvement “per possession,” you’ll see that Clemson improved 9.75% “per possession” under Morris and our TD rate (which was a problem in 2010), improved 6.79% per possession. No surprise here, we were better in 2011 “per possession” than we were in 2010. For what it’s worth, we ranked tied for 4th in the ACC in “yards per play” at 5.85 (Georgia Tech 6.75, UNC 6.29, and Miami 6.15 were ranked ahead of us, FSU was tied with us).

As I did in part 2, I used Auburn as a control to gauge our effectiveness because they slapped down the NC blueprint using this system. You can see that Auburn improved 21.28% “per possession” in their first year under Malzahn but, you can also see that their offense was, well, a joke in 2008. I bolded Auburn 2009 and Clemson 2011 for a reason. As you can see, in 2011 we were “scoring per possession” against our ACC schedule about as often as the 2009 Chris Todd/Ben Tate/Darvin Adams version of Malzhan’s offense scored against SEC defenses.

This was a little bit of a surprise. Auburn was an 8-5 SEC team that year and the perception is that our 2011 team, according to people that evaluate talent for a living, is more talented at almost every skill position. Our players certainly got a lot more hype nationally than they did, but considering the schedule, I’d have to say Auburn 2009 was probably even the stronger team “per possession.” Our defense in 2011 also out-performed their defense in 2009 “per possession,” so that wasn’t a contributor to their effectiveness.

Warning: Now stepping on the soapbox. I have little doubt that this is primarily the result of our weaker offensive line and likely shows the importance of being stronger up front.

This is, again, supported by our terrible “Red Zone TD Rate” of 57.14%. (We only improved in “Red Zone TD Rate” from 54.35% (94th) in 2010 to 57.14% (83rd) in 2011.)

Wisconsin was #1 in “Red Zone TD Rate” this year at 85.33% and if you saw their offensive line, you know why (Ditto Stanford, #1 in Red Zone Scoring at 97.1%). Does anybody really think that we’re in need of more talented skill guys to fix this? If our “TD rate per possession” is to increase, we must get tougher up front.

You can also see that “per possession,” there really isn’t a big difference between Billy Napier 2009 (#28 ranked offense) and Chad Morris 2011 (#23 ranked offense). Napier would’ve needed about two more scores that year to tie Morris’ production “per possession” in 2011. However, we faced a more difficult schedule in 2011 so, I would give the nod to Morris’ 2011 offense over Spiller and Ford’s offense under Napier.

In 2010, as we all know, the bottom fell out for us offensively and Billy “The Kid” was run out of town with a pitchfork in his back. That drop-off between 2009 and 2010 is reflected here. It probably should be mentioned that we faced a pretty tough defensive schedule that season. However, it’s well documented that the 2010 offense had bigger problems than just better-than-usual opposition.

Speaking of big problems, Auburn 2011. Apparently, The Cecil Newton Representation Agency ran out of clients this year. They also lost most of a veteran OL and Adams and Terrell Zachery as well. Now they’ve lost Dyer and Malzahn to boot. So, this will be the end of our little experiment with Auburn.

However, they are our next opponent. New Auburn offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, has a background in both pro-style and Meyer Spread Option, so it will be interesting to me to see what he decides to implement.

Let’s look at some other teams from 2011 and lump Clemson in with them:

Oregon scored in 50.56% of drives and a TD in 45.51% of drives, OADR 66.9

Alabama scored in 50.00% of drives and a TD in 34.03% of drives, OADR 41.27

Florida State scored in 43.14% of drives and a TD in 29.41% of drives, OADR 45.8

Clemson scored in 41.40% of drives and a TD in 29.57% of drives, OADR 49.7

South Carolina scored in 35.37% of drives and a TD in 31.97% of drives,OADR 49.33

Auburn scored in 32.89% of drives and a TD in 24.34% of drives, OADR 41.6

Duke scored in 31.71% of drives and a TD in 24.29% of drives, OADR 45.6

Isn’t it interesting that Alabama gets attacked for their lack of offense and yet their productivity is through the roof against a tough schedule. The schedule gap is so wide that it is hard to tell if Oregon even has a more effective offense than Alabama. I would say that these numbers say they don’t.

And yes, it is a tough pill to swallow to see that FSU was more effective “per possession” than we were since they had some injuries, freshman on the OL, and a more difficult schedule to boot. We need to get better. Also, notice how South Carolina puts the ball in the endzone more often “per possession” than us. We need to get better.

In part 4, we’ll combine the offense and defense and examine “Overall Per Possession Effectiveness.” Then we’ll factor in the speed of Morris’ system and examine how that speed affects the “total advantage gained per game.”

These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.

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