The offseason is filled with questions, especially this year. Rather than ask those questions and not offer any solutions, I thought it would be interesting to offer theorems, i.e. all right angles are congruent, and you tell me if you think they're true or not. Here are your previous Texas Tech Football Offseason Theorems:
First and foremost, all stats were provided via the invaluable website, CFBStats. Click the link for no other reason than to just give them an extra visit for the day.
When we last talked we were talking about just how poor the production rate of the Texas Tech football team in general. The production rate for the defensive line is to essentially take the sacks, tackles for loss and divide them by the number of games. A simple formula that even someone like me can do even though I made an error on the calculations. Please keep in mind that as I work through some of these things, the ideas somewhat hit me and there's really no way for me to know whether or not the things that I research are waste of time or if they're worth publishing. So sometimes I work through the process, publish it, and see what happens. This is one of those times.
One of my biggest problems as I try to figure out how to evaluate defenses is that other than yards given up, there's just not a lot out there that quantifies how well or poor a defense is doing. Bill Connelly at Football Study Hall does a fantastic job, but I don't have access to information that he's able to cultivate and I like to try to figure things out on my own. One of the things that we often read about is how coaches and players stress how important making plays is throughout a game and so I was curious as to how many big plays there were across the board in the Big 12 so I could see just how poorly Texas Tech did last year.
I was also curious as to just how important big plays is on the defense? For the purpose of this exercise I wanted to include sacks, tackles for loss, passes broken up, interceptions, and forced fumbles and it appears that this type of production is important on some level. It doesn't tell us everything, but it's something. At the very least, it is a pretty good indicator if a team is making a play. I'd also like to add that I have a couple of tables here the point of having these tables is that I really wanted to work through as to how I eventually arrived at the formula (the last table) that I think works the best, but could definitely still use some adjustment. Again, it's a work in progress.
Here's my initial go at making sense of big plays per game:
|Teams||Games||Sacks||TFL||Passes Broken Up||Interceptions||Forced Fumbles||Big Play / Game|
There's a couple of oddities here, but the biggest one to me is that Kansas St. and Baylor have production rates that are similar to that of Texas Tech's production rate. Those two teams had good/great seasons, while Texas Tech finished under .500 for the year. I think that Baylor's success can be largely attributed to having such a fantastic offense that they bailed out the defense on more than one occasion and could literally score at will. Add to the fact that the team may have a handful of offensive players drafted in the top 75 players and that's a pretty good recipe for success. As far as Kansas St. is concerned, well Bill Snyder is a coaching wizard. Period. Not only that, but after taking a look at this, I thought that we might want to take into consideration the yards allowed per game by the defense, and now it makes more sense. Kansas St. gave up 100 fewer yards per game than Texas Tech did last year. We'll get to that table in a moment.
Another oddity is that TAMU was fantastic at these types of statistics and makes you think that no matter what, job #1 was to make plays and the rest will follow, but that didn't work out so well as the season progressed (if I remember correctly, there were a lot of late game meltdowns that could be attributed to both sides of the ball).
One other note is the number of interceptions that Oklahoma St. had during the course of a year. That's just absurd and there is no doubt that a forced fumble with a recovery or an interception should count more towards the production rate for this type of exercise, but I'm not smart enough to know how to figure that out*. Nevertheless, if you ever wanted another reason why Oklahoma St. was so good last year, then look no further than turnover margin, where they squarely sit at the top of the NCAA last year. Not being a math person, I knew I wanted to combine the big plays and the yards allowed in relation to the big plays, so I've accounted for yards allowed per game and taken the yards per game and divided by the big plays per game after the jump:
|Teams||Games||Sacks||TFL||PBU||INT||FF||Yds / Game||Big Play / Game||Yds PG / BP PG|
This makes it pretty clear that UT was on pace with OU and TAMU in terms of production, but if you account for the yards allowed per game and UT is by far and away the best defense in the Big 12 last year. And maybe yards per game needs to be given a greater factor because the difference in yards per game between Texas, which was 11th nationally, and Oklahoma, which was 55th in in the country, is a fairly significant gap. Not only that, but I do know that when the NCAA compiles their statistics, that sacks is already included in tackles for loss, so maybe I need to cut those out. If I do that, then this is what we get:
|Teams||Games||TFL||PBU||INT||FF||Yds / Game||Big Play / Game||Yds PG / BP PG|
That looks a bit better and puts a bit of a bigger separation between Texas and the rest of the conference. I'm open to suggestions as to how to tweak this formula.
In any event, no matter how you dice up the numbers, I think you can make a good argument that perhaps Baylor's rise was not a result of the defense making a lot of big plays or giving up fewer yards, but rather that their offense was simply spectacular. The fact that Baylor's defense is sandwiched between Texas Tech and Kansas, clearly the two worst teams in the Big 12 last year, may be an indication that the success that Baylor had this year won't last unless the defense improves. Phil Bennett has been a good defensive coordinator through the years, so maybe with a couple of years to turn things around, they'll be better, but make no mistake, Baylor's defense was awful last year, as was Texas Tech's.
What does this say about Texas Tech? Well, that they, along with Baylor, Kansas and Iowa St., have a lot of ground to make up in order to be in the top half of the conference and I don't know that a new defensive coordinator is going to make that happen over the course of a spring. I know that I'm somewhat of an eternal optimist, but the numbers are stacked against new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and the hope would be that Texas Tech could move up into the range of Kansas St., the likely key to that is to limit the total number of yards given up. Again, Kansas St. was almost 100 yards per game better than Texas Tech.