Thursday, January 10, 2008

The. Worst. Ever. (Almost).

There, I got your attention with an admittedly grandiloquent headline.

And no, I’m not talking about the Notre Dame offense, which we gleefully poked fun at nearly all season long.

I’m talking about Florida’s 2007 defense.

Was it the worst “ever” in the NCAA?


The worst this year in the NCAA?

No, only a pitiful 46th ranked there.

It was just the worst defense the Florida Gators have had in the modern era, as well as one of the worst ever.

I started this project by looking at the average points per game the Gator defense surrendered this year. When I found the number to be a shockingly high 25.46 points per game, I decided to see when was the last time the Gators had given up so many points per game in a season.

It took me quite a while to find it.

All the way back to 1990 to start the Spurrier era the worst point per game defense was the 1992 team at 23.67*, nearly 2 better a game than 2007.

So I kept going. Through the 80’s I went, where the worst defense was Charlie Pell’s 1982 squad that went 8-4, with a defense that gave up a not too disreputable 19 points per game.

1979 would have to be it, I figured, a year of infamy in Florida history in which the Gators went 0-10-1. I was wrong.

In 1979 the Gator defense surrendered 24.09 points per game, still better than this year’s team.

Finally, in 1971, there it was. Doug Dickey’s 1971 team had 27.09 points per game scored against them, a season in which the Gators went 4-7.

After 1971, you have to go all the way back to the 1946 squad of Raymond “Bear” Wolf to find a worse statistical defense. In 1946 the 0-9 Gators gave up 29.33 points per game.

And finally, the worst defense for the Florida Gators ever was found in 1917, when the 2-4 team coached by A.L. Busser gave up a shocking 41.17 points per game. The schedule and results for that year –

So to recap, the worst statistical defenses in Florida history –

1917 – 41.17 ppg, 2-4 record
1946 – 29.33 ppg, 0-9 record
1971 – 27.09 ppg, 4-7 record
2007 – 25.46 ppg, 9-4 record
1979 – 24.09 ppg, 0-10-1 record

Of course, one can reasonably imagine that in 1917 Florida was a team depleted by the US’s entry into World War I. This year’s team apparently suffered depletion by the NFL.

The real surprise this year was not the 4 losses. With this defense, the surprise was the 9 wins.

* All stats pre-2007 calculated from College Football Data Warehouse.


Anonymous said...

Wow. When I said "worst Gator D in team history" I wasn't really that far off!

IMO this proves the SEC's superiority to the Little Eleven even MORE seeing as their second best team could only beat the 4th worst Gator D by six. How much did Illinois and tOSU lose their bowl games by again?

Anonymous said...

These numbers are slightly deceiving in comparison to past years. Take a look across the board and see how many more points are being scored in college football. I think we saw a significant increase this year which might be attributed to the new kickoff rule.

Unknown said...

Anonymous in #2 is right; PPG have gone up so considerably over the years that a 27.1 average in 1971 is vastly, vastly worse than the Gators' '07 number; I'd bet that a fair context adjustment would have the '71 team giving up 35+ a week. I prefer comparisons using nat'l rankings: UF was 46th in scoring defense this year. When was the last time they ranked worse? Even a PPG number indexed to that year's nat'l average would be better

I acknowledge that those answers are hard to find, but I think that those are more appropriate questions to ask. Comparing the 2007 PPG number to 1992's or 1979's doesn't really tell us much.

None of this, of course, makes my stomach feel any better when thinking of Florida's 2007 defense, which was genuinely awful for a team with SEC title hopes.