Thursday, October 13, 2016

Talking West Virginia and Big 12 defense with ESPN 102.3

Jeff Postus (@JPostusBGS) had me on the radio in West Virginia on 102.3 the Ticket to talk West Virginia defense and how to evaluate modern defense against Big 12 competition.
I've been thinking since that interview and have determined that some useful stats to measure Big 12 defensive performance should probably include points per play, TDs per possession, 3rd down conversion rates, and yards per play. Defensive S&P aims to evaluate many of these factors so it'd definitely helpful in this regard.

A good Big 12 defense is basically one that can force an offense to play left-handed when it matters without giving up easy, explosive plays as a result.

You can do those two things and still give up 20-30 points fairly regularly.


  1. I think FEI and other drive data is a lot more helpful in understanding the success level of a Big12 defense. See, e.g., When analyzing defenses across conferences, the main question should be "how many points are you allowing per drive/possession?"

    1. Wouldn't that be impacted by field position though?

      Like, if you are a team that is always working with poor field position for whatever reason (bad O, bad ST, what have you), won't you have poorer numbers in "points per possession" even if you have a solid D?

    2. Oh absolutely. Points allowed per possession will always be hurt by field position. And the official FEI ratings take field position and opponent adjustments into account. That's why you always need advanced stats in one form or another: they give context to regular stats.

      But if you're looking for a single stat to judge a defense, points allowed per possession is probably the best.

      This is a takeaway I got from Aliotti when responding to criticisms that the defense was giving up more yards and points under Kelly. He answered that it was like judging a Big12 defense: since his defense was giving up fewer points per possession, the defense was actually better - not worse.

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