Thursday, January 15, 2009

The 2008 Defense – A Historic Turnaround

Last year I pointed out that our relative woes were due to a nearly worst ever Gator defensive unit.

What a difference a year makes.

The Florida defense ended the year with 12.9 points per game surrendered, or an incredible 12.56 points per game better than last year’s 25.46 ppg. In other words our defense gave up nearly half per game what the 2007 team did.

Where does that defense rank in Florida history? Well comparisons to the very old, pre-forward pass era aren’t fair, but to find the next season better than this year’s Gators in points per game surrendered you have to go all the way back to 1975 and Doug Dickey’s 9-3 squad, which surrendered 9.75 points per game.

That’s right this year’s defense was even better than 2006’s champions who gave up 13.5 points per game.

What’s more when you consider scoring margin, or the difference between offensive scoring and defensive, the 2008 Gator squad is the best team in Gator history. The top ten Gator teams by scoring margin –

2008 30.74
1996 30
2001 30
1994 23.84
1995 22.69
1993 20.69
1990 19.63
1997 18.75
1998 17.92
2007 17

Much has been made of Florida’s offense this year, and the amazing skills of players like Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin.

However much of the real credit for our 2008 BCS title belongs to Charlie Strong and his defense.

The bad news for our opponents next year – with the return of Brandon Spikes and prospectively all defensive starters, we might just be better.

Update: I decided to see how our scoring margin compared to other teams this year, and found Florida to be the NCAA's best. The top ten -

1 Florida 30.74
2 Southern California 28.54
3 Oklahoma 26.64
4 Boise St. 25.02
5 Penn St. 24.52
6 Texas 23.58
7 TCU 22.32
8 Utah 19.72
9 Tulsa 19.31
10 Iowa 17.31


JD said...

It's exciting to think that all 11 starters from one of the best defenses in Gator history are coming back. I wonder if they'll get the same publicity that USC's defense got this year?

SecondSon said...

I believe USC had 6 players who were 3 year starters on defense this year. How many are we going to have? I think it will be pretty close to that many. I fully expect the 30.74 scoring margin record set this year to fall.

RHOmea said...

That is some beautiful stat-detective work Mergz! Losing Harvin is obviously a blow to the Offense but I think your defensive analysis shows up a key positive for the Gators next year:

Tebow will be playing on an even shorter field in 09 than he worked in 08.

UF loses almost no one on Special Teams and the Defense comes back with it's fearless leader Spikes and everyone a year older, tougher and smarter.

I'd guess UF averages around a 35-40 yd start point next year. they avged at the 39 on the 4 TD drives vs Alabama (almost 32 for the game) this year and next year should only get better.

jj gator said...

Good recruiting on behalf of Urban Meyer - the REAL Master Recruiter - and a years' gametime experience worked wonders for us, Mergz - not to mention that the last vestiges of Zookism have finally disappeared from the Gators' locker room, thank God.

Incoming recruits and the return of Dorian Munroe from his injury should bolster our depth chart and keep the defensive rotation fresh for 2009.

Now if we can get the same level of productivity out of them this fall that we did in 2008 - even beyond that level - we'll be in great shape!