We've been hearing about how young and inexperienced our defense is. We've been hearing how they're not very good. We've been hearing how we need better players.
Let's accept all of these arguments at face value and examine them against previous talent levels and performance.
In this analysis, I only focus on the defensive line for two reasons: 1) limited time; and 2) because the defensive line struggled so much against the Longhorn's run defense.
I mainly focused on the two-deep rosters provided by Scout.com, and supplemented it with past knowledge of actual starts during the season. This list is by no means 100% accurate, and I would appreciate amendments/ additional thoughts.
The following discussion reviews lineups from 2007-2011. I stopped at 2007 because Scout.com did as well. If anyone wants to go back further, please feel free and I will revise the post to include those figures.
Observation 1: Overall, the 2011 defense is not particularly young
According to Scout.com, in 2011, Texas Tech returned 6 defensive starters. This number is consistent with returning starters over the past five years:
Observation 2: Overall, the 2011 defensive line, evaluated in terms of number of upper classmen in the two-deep roster is only slightly less experienced than the defensive lines in three of the past 5 years. In 2009, the defensive line was unusually experienced. In 2007, the defensive line was unusually inexperienced.
2011: 5 upper classmen/ 5 lower classmen (including 2 freshman)
2010: 6 upper classmen/ 3 lower classmen (including 3 freshmen)
2009: 8 upper classmen/ 0 lower classmen
2008: 7 upper classmen/ 2 lower classmen (including 1 freshman)
2007: 2 upper classmen/ 5 lower classmen (no freshmen)
Note: The 2011 figures would have had more returning upperclassmen, but the departures of four quality seniors (Fehoka, 3-star, Agoucha, 3-star, Wade, 4-star and Rumph, 3-star) and one sophomore (Graves, 4-star) did not improve the figures.
Attrition has hurt the team more than poor recruiting. Losing four key upperclassmen is unusual, and what has affected Tech's depth in 2011. This type of attrition is to be expected when a team brings in three DC's over three years.
Observation 3: The 2011 defensive line is significantly more talented, as measured by rivals.com ratings, than the defensive lines of any of the previous four classes.
2011: 4 four-stars, 5 three-stars, 1 two-star
2010: 1 four-star, 6 three-stars, 2 two-stars
2009: 1 four-star, 4 three-stars, 3 two-stars
2008: 1 four-star, 4 three-stars, 4 two-stars
2007: 0 four-star, 3 three-stars, 2 two-stars, 1 walk-on
Observation 4: In spite of the relatively similar experience and superior talent of the 2011 team's defensive line, the most recent defenses are the worst performing defenses over the past five years as measured by total defense, rushing defense and sacks.
Total Defense Rank:
What is interesting in this analysis is that Texas Tech performed best over the past five years when in boasted its most experienced defensive line (2009) and least experienced defensive line (2007).
Total Rushing Defense Rank
2011: 118 (5.31 yds allwd/ carry)
2010: 69 (4.15 yds allwd/ carry)
2009: 38 (3.41 yds allwd / carry)
2008: 61 (3.99 yds allwd / carry)
2007: 82 (3.99 yds allwd / carry)
The 2011 defense is allowing significantly more yards per carry than past defenses,
Sacks (rank/ number of sacks)
2011: 107th (1.22 per game)
2010: 67th ((1.92 per game)
2009: 4th (3.08 per game)
2008: 18th (2.62 per game)
2007: 64th (2.00 per game)
We can see in this analysis that despite having similar experience and superior talent, the 2011 rushing defense has, so far, significantly underperformed those of previous teams. The 2011 defense is allowing significantly more rushing yards per carry than past defenses and sacking the quarterback less frequently.
1. The lists below are not exhaustive, but reflect my best efforts to collect information. If I have missed names/ significant contributors who did not appear on the two-deep chart, please let me know, and I will adjust the post (for example Scott and Mackey are not listed on the pre-season two-deep, but I have included them because they receive the bulk of playing time this year).
2. I will modify the post to reflect any updated information.
3. The analysis is incomplete, because defensive performance also reflects the performance of other positions. To the extent possible, this analysis is meant to provide an insight into the defensive line's contribution to the defense's overall performance.
Players Evaluated (Experience, per scout.com)
2007 SR: Yenzer, JR: Ratliff, SO: Henley, B Jones, R Jones, Williams; FR: Stoffels
2008 SR: Ratliff, JR: B Jones, Henley, R Jones, B. Williams, Howard, Dixon; SO: Whitlock, FR: Perry
2009 SR: Henley, Sesay, R Jones, R Henley, Hunter, Howard, Sharpe JR: Whitlock,
2010 SR: Whitlock, Duncan, Barbee; JR: Perry, Wade, Langley; FR: Hyder, Knighton, Barr
2011 SR: Smith, Langley, Rumph, Wade, JR: Mackey, Perry; Wesley SO: Barr, Hyder, Bush; FR: Richards
Players Evaluated (Talent, per rivals.com)
2007: SR: Yenzer (3-star), JR: Ratliff (2), SO: Henley (3) , B Jones (2), R Jones (3), Williams (2); FR: Stoffels
2008: SR: Ratliff (2-star), JR: B Jones (2), Henley (3), R Jones (3), B. Williams (2), Howard (2), Dixon (4); SO: Whitlock (3), FR: Perry (3)
2009: SR: Henley (3-star), Sesay (4), R Jones (3), R Henley (3), Hunter (2), Howard (2) , Sharpe (2) JR: Whitlock (3),
2010: SR: Whitlock (3-star), Duncan (3), Barbee; JR: Perry (3), Wade (4), Langley (3), Agoucha (3) ; FR: Hyder (3), Knighton (2) , Barr (2)
2011: SR: Smith (4-star) , Langley (3) , JR: Mackey (4), Perry (3); Wesley (3) SO: Barr (2) , Hyder (3) , Bush (3) ; FR: Richards (4)
Note: Post amended. Miles, Rumph removed from 2011 defense. Delvon Simmons is added to the 2011 defense. Amendments slightly change the analysis. The 2011 is slightly less experienced than previous years, however, the cause of the relative inexperience can be attributed to the unusually high attrition rate of upperclassmen prior to and during the 2011-12 season. - LR (hat tip mojavereject).