In an era of spread, throw it everywhere offenses, defense still holds the keys to the kingdom.
This one tweet set off a mini-debate this fine Sunday morning on Twitter...
Baylor's 6.5 yards/play was their 3rd lowest output of their season. Only OU and La-Monroe held them to fewer yards/play.— Oklahoma State Stats (@OSUStats) December 2, 2012
@OSUStats does a great job. I love stats, despite the fact they are for losers, per Todd Monken.
In this moment though, we disagreed. He was trying to put the onus on Monken and the offense. I was not buying, and here's why...
Moving parts, the ball, # plays, and yards per play.
Predictable stats here...4 conference losses, D gave up 5.5, 6.8, 6.0, 6.5 in ypp. Four highest of the season. In 5 wins, only 2 managed 5.0 ypp or higher (5.3 & 5.0). The 5.3 was on 91 plays, which is not good, but 3 turnovers helped greatly.
Since 2010, OSU is 1-4 when giving up 6+ ypp, regardless of # of plays (only win was A&M in 2011). They are 6-7 when giving up 5.5+ ypp.
Since 2010, OSU is 13-0 when giving up 5.4 or less ypp regardless of # of plays.
So they are 18-3 when holding the opponent under 6 ypp. I don't care if we "held" Baylor to their 3rd lowest output of the season. Anything over 6 ypp means we lose. We held Texas, OU, & Baylor below their ypp averages, and we lost all three. This is why Monken says stats are for losers.
Since 2010, OSU is 15-3 when holding Big 12 opponents to 89 or fewer plays. In those 3 losses, they allowed 5.5, 6.8, 6.8 ypp. They are 4-4 when allowing 90+ plays.
In Big 12 play, the 2010 defense was the best for ypp, averaging 5.2. Last year's D was next at 5.3. This season was 5.6.
In plays per game, this year's D was best, coming in at 82 ppg. 2010 averaged 84..2011 averaged 86.
And none of these numbers have anything to do with what the opponent's average was coming into the game.
Do the math, and this year's defense allowed the same yards per game in Big 12 play as 2011. Imagine last season without the turnovers...wait, we don't have to. We watched it in 2012.
Sans the turnover avalanche, 2011 would have been 11-2 at best. Maybe 10-3. Take away the best QB and WR in school history, and you have 7-5.
Offenses are going to struggle. Even the best units have drives, a game, maybe multiple games, where the QB is terrible or the WR's are dropping it or screwing up their routes, timing is off, the opposing defense is really good, or the elements limit the game plan. The constant is the defense. Learned it in HS basketball...good defense will keep you in games when your offense ain't gettin it done. Defense isn't handling the ball and is not generally completely dependent on 1 player (QB).
For me, the defense needs to be able to assert itself more often, and I really don't think this is about the athletes as much as it is about the coaching. The coverage scheme on the play I spotlighted in my post game analysis was a complete joke, and we've been watching it for at least the last 3 years. I understand the "bend don't break" mentality, but if you are depending on turnovers to stop the opposing offense you're gonna be in trouble, because at some point the turnovers are going to dry up. The defense needs to occasionally win games.
It will be interesting to see what happens this off season. Would hope that the Cowboys make some kind of move defensively, whether it's coaching or recruiting, as those moves could be the key to championship runs over the next couple of years.