Thursday, January 17, 2008

2007 Defense Revisited

Earlier I did a post on the woeful Gator defense of this past season who were statistically (by points surrendered) one of the worst in Florida history.

Some commentators to that post suggested that comparing the 2007 defense to Gator defenses of old was unfair because of “ppg have gone up considerably over the years”. While this is hard to establish factually (the NCAA keeps stats only back to the 1999 season on their website), it is likely true. Yet, it bears repeating that this year’s Gator defense was historically dreadful despite whatever can be attributed to increased overall scoring. When we rank the defenses by worst to first in points per game for the past 29 seasons (back to the forgettable 1979 0-10-1 year), we find –

The average points per game surrendered from 1979-2007 is 17.79, and last season was the worst in nearly 30 years. If we assume that the “scoring explosion” in college football started around 1990 (it certainly did at Florida that year), 2007 was still awful by the standards of the higher scoring era-

Average PPG Surrendered

As we noted before, 2007 was one of the best offensive years in Gator history, ranking 4th overall in points scored. The top 5 offenses historically are –

1. 1996 47 ppg
2. 2001 44.83 ppg
3. 1995 42.92 ppg
4. 2007 42.46 ppg
5. 1994 41.38 ppg

When you look at those years, you think –

1996 - SEC title and MNC, 12-1 record

2001 – 10-2 record, but perhaps the most disappointing UF season ever, and Spurrier’s last

1995 – SEC title, runner up MNC, 12-1 record

2007 – 9-4 record

1994 – SEC title, 10-2-1 record

In many ways this season nearly rivals the apogee of disappointment and lost opportunity that was 2001.

Of course what really matters to wins and losses is margin – the amount by which your offense outscores what your defense surrenders. For the 4th best offense the 2007 team was only the 9th best team by margin since 1979 –

You see here margin, while important (1996), isn’t everything. 2006, with its lesser margin, was a far more successful season, as were 91’ and 00’. What is notable about 2007 by the margin chart is the high number of losses – every team with a margin better than 2007 had no more than 2 losses, and you have to fall all the way to the 2004 team to find a year with more losses than 2007. 1999 and 2005 with far lower margins than 2007 resulted in essentially the same records. Even 1992, with a margin that was nearly even, had a 9-4 record.

Based on our offense in 2007, this could have been one of the great years in Florida history. Going back to the start of the Spurrier era and looking at offensive ppg and win-loss records –

Looking only at the offense, this should have been no more than a 2 loss year, and a potential SEC winning season. And with 2 losses, we would have had a shot at the MNC.

Our defense cost us that shot. Take a look at the best defenses of the modern era –

Last year a purely mediocre offense won us a MNC. Even a sub-par defense, like we had in 2005, resulted in a 12 win season.

2007 – The year a historically stellar offense, and Heisman winning quarterback, were squandered.


UF Gator DMD said...

Any statistical relevance concerning the class make-up of the starters on D? Like last year's D was replacing 9 starters, and a lot of back-ups as well. Are there any comparable seasons where there was so much youth (Freshmen/Sophomores) playing??? Or are is there no record of such things?

Anonymous said...

I fully recognize the unique situation last year in losing 9 starters. Data to make the comparison suggested wouldn't be available for more than a few years back, so a full analysis is impossible.


Gator KGB said...

Mergz, isn't the most telling statistic the differential between average points scored and average points allowed?

Regarding this year's defensive woes, do we really need a retroactive statistical analysis to interpret the evidence that assaulted our eyes? Namely, inexperience, poor talent and injuries on the interior defensive line and the secondary?

Andrew said...

An interesting thing to note might be average points scored in an SEC game. The number seemed to be significantly higher this year than usual. Maybe there is something to this...