Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where Have You Gone Reggie Nelson?

Sure, it should have been obvious that losing 9 of your 11 defensive starters would have a severe impact on your defensive production.

But this severe?

Through 8 games this year, the Gator defense ranks 54th nationally in average points allowed per game. Last season the Gators finished 6th nationally.

How bad is 54th? Well, let’s take a look at the company in those national rankings –

53 Mississippi St.
54 Florida
55 Army

Through 8 games the 2007 Gators are surrendering an average of 25.6 points per game. At the same point last season, the eventual BCS champs were giving up only 12.3 points per game.

The math is easy – give up an extra 13.3 points per game, and very bad things are going to happen.

Notable is a comparison between the 2006 and 2007 Gators and the points surrendered against common opponents. The following is the point differential, in order from best to worst, against common opponents between 2006 and 2007 -

Auburn – 2007 is 7 better (27 v 20)
Tennessee – 2007 is even (20 v 20)
LSU – 2007 is 18 worse (10 v 28)
Georgia – 2007 is 28 worse (14 v 42)
Kentucky – 2007 is 30 worse (7 v 37)

Of course in that 2006 Auburn game 14 of the points scored were attributable to special teams and that last second desperation play.

Not to mention that against the first two teams played in 2006 (Southern Miss and UCF) the defense surrendered a total of 7 points. Against the first two this year (WKU and Troy) the total was 34.

Imagine (if you will) that the 2006 opponents scores were applied to the above 5 games. Your finals would be –

Tennessee 59-20
Auburn 17-27
LSU 24-10
Kentucky 45-7
Georgia 30-14

Fantasy no doubt. But the point is obvious – this offense is scoring enough points to win most of our games.

I was (and remain) critical of our play calling against Georgia, but offense is not remotely our problem. Currently the Gators rank 10th nationally in points scored per game at 39.13. At this point in 2006, your eventual champions were averaging a mere 26.5 points per game, or 12.63 worse per game than the current Gators. Even after the big wins against Arkansas and Ohio State, the 2006 Florida team averaged 29.71 points per game.

We are nearly 10 points per game better than last year’s team at its best, yet already have 2 more losses.

We have noted repeatedly our admiration for defense, and its paramount importance to overall championship performance. Perhaps when we saw this team give up 31 to Troy we should have been extremely wary about its future. As it stands now, no game is safe.


Trader Rick said...

So what's your point? Our defense sucks? Well, yeah.

Mergz said...

Yeah, that's pretty much it. Word brevity was never my strong point.

Anonymous said...

While losing Reggie hurt, you need to look at the glass half full. Kyle Jackson won't be around next year!

JJ Gator said...

Believe me when the first words out of my mouth upon hearing that we were losing 9 of 11 starters on defense after the NC win were: "Oh, shit". My sixth sense told me that we wouldn't be as effective this year as we were in 2006, so I can't say that I'm not surprised at this point.

The injuries are mounting up (Wright, Estopinan, Markihe Anderson), and this doesn't help the cause any, either.

We definitely would have been better on defense had underclassmen like Moss, Reggie Nelson, and Brandon Siler had decided to stick around for their senior season and Ryan Smith for his last year of eligibility; the impact wouldn't have been as severe. I can only imagine what Avery Atkins could have contributed to this team at CB had he made better choices in life and was still alive; the few times he had some playing time I saw some potential in him.

Oh well, hindsight is 20-20.

Experience should be a good teacher for these kids this season, but we have some critical recruiting needs here that should be addressed in the Class of 2008 - especially in our secondary.