clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Does A Great Defense Alone Automatically Equal A Great Team?

Getty Images

When it comes to total yards per game, you are ranked 81st in the nation. In your conference, your unit is in the middle of the pack. Who are you?

You're LSU.

Wait, what?

Sorry, I'm talking about offensive stats. You know, the "other half" of football. Or did everyone forget that there were two sides to a game? The national consensus is that there are two "great" teams in the country and then there is everyone else. And why? Because apparently defense is the only thing that wins ball games.

Well I firmly disagree. Also, I find it a bit shortsighted for the national pundits to jump all over the Oklahoma State total defensive numbers without ever mentioning a word about LSU's total offense stat.

Is LSU's defense better than Oklahoma State's? Absolutely. But I'll retort with asking "isn't Oklahoma State's offense better than LSU's?" Most definitely. So why is one team "head and shoulders better" than the other?

More after the jump. 

Before I go any further, I'm not beating up on LSU. I'm merely using their stats as an example since that is what the media loves to do with OSU. The only difference is that I don't see those same pundits criticizing LSU for what their offensive unit looks like on paper.

"But this is different! Defense wins champ-un-chips!"

Spare me.

Great TEAMS win championships. Auburn's defense last year ranked 60th in the nation. They were also ranked 7th in offense. Does anyone honestly think that it was simply their mediocre ranked defense that got them to the promise land and not what they did on the other side of the ball?

To add to that, haven't we all seen teams with superior offenses conquer those that are a bit underwhelming in the same area even if that said team had a great defense? Boise State over OU? Utah over Alabama?

On the stat note, LSU fans will be quick to point out that they are 2nd in the nation in red zone conversions and 13th in points scored per game. And those are extremely valid points. In fact, just as solid as the fact that Oklahoma State is 1st in the nation in turnovers forced and 10th in red zone defense. 

"Yeah, yeah but OSU gives up too many yards."

Ok, can that not be turned around and used against LSU for not gaining enough yards? Since when is that criticism one-sided? I don't hear that type of chatter coming from the Kirk Herbstreit's and Mark May's of the world. Why are teams with bad defensive stats thrown under the bus while teams with bad offensive stats given a pass? Can a powerful offense not make up for a mediocre defense the way a powerful defense can make up for its mediocre offense?

The point is that it takes both sides--not just defense--to make a great team. You can stop all the offenses you want with your great defense but if you can't move the ball, you aren't going to win big games. Furthermore, no team should ever be judged on paper stats alone. Not LSU. Not OSU. Nobody.

Let the play on the field determine the better team. And until then, Jesse Palmer, try wearing a suit that wasn't purchased in the boy's department of Dillard's.