"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
2010 Big Ten
**A few people thought this was worthy of a diary post, so here you are.**
I've seen a few diaries analyze the defense in terms of total yardage, points allowed, etc. However, I don't think total yardage and points are necessarily the best measurements to evaluate our defensive performances. Those measurements fail to account for how quickly we score on offense, our special teams (or lack of in this case) play, turnovers, and starting field position for the opposition.
I decided to evaluate the defense in a more comprehensive manner, using several statistics to get a "big picture" view of the defense. I used several statistics to evaluate the defense during B10 play:
- % of stops (defined as non-scoring drives by the opposition)
- % of punts forced by the defense
- % of 3-and-outs forced by the defense
- Points per drive allowed by the defense
- Average starting field position by the opposition
- Yard Per Drive By Opposition
Here's how B10 play stacks up
Game 1 (Indiana):
- 7 stops on 13 drives (53.8%) - 2 stops were forced by turnover on downs
- 4 punts on 13 drives (30.8%)
- One 3-and-out (7.7%)
- 35 points on 13 drives = 2.69 points per drive
- Average starting position by Indiana = 26.31 yard line (Indiana Territory)
- 568 yards on 13 drives = 43.69 yards per drive
Game 2 (MSU)
- 4 stops on 10 drives (40%)
- 4 punts on 10 drives (40%)
- Two 3-and-outs on 10 drives (20%)
- 34 points on 10 drives = 3.4 points per drive
- Average starting field position by MSU = 30.1 yard line (MSU Territory)
- 536 yards on 10 drives = 53.6 yards per drive
Game 3 (Iowa)
- 5 stops on 11 drives (45.5%)
- 5 punts on 11 drives (45.5%)
- Five 3-and-outs on 11 drives (45.5%)
- 38 points on 11 drives = 3.45 points per drive
- Iowa average starting field position = 38.09 yard line (Iowa Territory)
- 383 yards on 11 drives = 34.82 yards per drive
Game 4 (Penn State)
- 2 stops on 9 drives (22.2%) - That is a very ugly number
- 2 punts on 9 drives (22.2%)
- One 3-and-out (11.1%)
- 41 points on 9 drives = 4.56 points per drive
- Average Starting Field Position for Penn State = 37.78 yard line (Penn State Territory)
- 435 Yards on 9 drives = 48.33 yards per drive
Game 5 (Illinois)- Regulation Only
- 8 stops on 14 drives (57.14%) including 1 fumble and missed FG -
- 6 punts on 14 drives (42.75%) -
- Four 3-and-outs (28.57%) -
- 45 points on 14 drives = 3.21 points per drive -
- Average starting field position for Illinois = 40.43 yard line (Illinois Territory) - TO's and special teams absolutely killed us
- 486 yards on 14 drives = 34.71 yards per drive
Game 6 (Purdue)
- 12 stops on 15 (80%) including 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions - That's a NICE number!
- 7 punts on 15 drives (47%) - tainted by generating TO's
- Four 3-and-outs on 15 drives (27%) -definitely tainted by generating TO's
- 9 points on 15 drives = .6 points per drive(Purdue's TD was off an INT)
- Average starting field position for Purdue - 35.93 yard line (Purdue Territory) - Wasn't really this bad, a few TO's in our territory really skewed the numbers
- 244 yards on 15 drives = 16.27 - Holy Shit there is a God!
Game Standings from Best to Worst:
|Stop%||Punt%||3-and-out%||Points/Drive||Starting Field Position|
|purdue (80)||purdue (47)||iowa (45.5)||purdue (.6)||Ind (26.31 yard line)|
|illinois (57.14)||Iowa (45.5)||illinois (28.57)||Ind (2.69)||MSU (30.1 yard line)|
|Ind (53.8)||ill (42.75)||purdue (27)||ill (3.21)||purdue (35.9 yard line)|
|Iowa (45.5)||MSU (40)||MSU (20)||MSU (3.4)||PSU (37.78 yard line)|
|MSU (40)||Ind (30.8)||PSU (11.1)||Iowa (3.45)||Iowa (38.09 yard line)|
|PSU (22.2)||PSU (22.2)||Ind (7.7)||PSU (4.56)||ill (40.43 yard line)|
**Yards Per Drive**
Purdue (16.27 Yards Per Drive)
Illinois (34.71 Yards per Drive)
Iowa (34.82 Yards per Drive)
Indiana (43.69 Yards per Drive)
Penn State (48.33 Yards Per Drive)
MSU (53.6 Yards Per Drive)
What does all this tell us:
I'm not foolish enough to believe we have a defense that is even approaching slightly below average, however, I do think we've made some improvement during 3 of the past 4 weeks with PSU being the outlier for the entire season. Taking into account that we've basically been without Mike Martin the past few weeks, and Mouton is playing at half strength, I definitely think we're trending upward. Even Avery is starting to look like a reasonable option at CB.
We all understand the defense is going to be a liability for the rest of the year, but if the secondary can play semi-adequate for the Wisconsin game, we might have a reasonable chance of winning if the offense doesn't turn the ball over. Wisconsin's pass offense is ranked #74 in terms of passing efficiency and only average 200 yards per game. However, they have a potent rushing game that is ranked #12 in terms of yards per game. Our rush defense certainly isn't good(#75 in the country), but it's not absolutely horrible either. If we play clean football, we might have a chance at winning this game. Wisconsin is not a big play team, and if the secondary can just be something approaching average, I think we have enough firepower on offense to pull it out.
(1) I think after this past weekend, many of us, players, fans & coaches alike felt at least some kind of burden lifted: Bowl Eligibility; Defeat of supposedly a team on the rise in Illinois. Things are a little bit calmer in these parts. Plus, we have some momentum going forward into a very winnable game @ Purdue. Sure, nothing's a given, but I like our chances to put a hurtin' on the Boilers. 7-3 going into the last two? Many predicted 7 wins for us this year. Check*.
(2) Those last two games against Wisconsin & OSU should be a blast! We are in a fantastic position to totally screw up the chances of those teams for Big 10 Title & BCS aspirations. A dollar says this team from here on out looks much less tense and seems to have a shitload of fun on the field. They will be underdogs in each of those games, and I'm going to predict that we upset one of them. I think these last three games will be a great preview of some of what should come next year.
(3) There's been some more Denard/Heisman chatter around here recently, and while it's probably not going to happen, this stage is where Heisman finalists are made. If Denard leads us to wins over the last three games, he's got a real shot to get back into the picture. I think he could still be a finalist if he wins 2 of the three, but puts up great numbers in all three. Not super important right now, but it sure would be fun to see him get proper credit for the ridiculous year he's having.
(4) I, for one, am quite excited to see what happens with this team the rest of November. Before the season, I said very calmly to myself that if we improve enough to get to a bowl, I'm not going to complain about Rodriguez as our coach again in 2010. That's happened, and I'm sticking to my word. He gives us the absolute best shot to be a contender next year, and he seems to have full support of his players. So sit back, breathe a little easier, and let's all have some fun and see if this wacky combination of Top-5 offense and Bottom-Tier Defense can't find some happy medium and mess up the Big Ten Picture a little.
*First things, first: Let's wipe the floor with Purdue this weekend. I think it will happen. Maybe some tense moments, maybe a high-scoring affair, but whatever, that's old hat at this point. Anyway, always have to put this disclaimer when looking ahead.
I'd like to find out how the offensive lines stack up in the Big Ten for this coming Fall. A ranking from 1 through 11 would be good. I'm also curious on how many starting offensive lineman MSU lost from last year's team. Thanks to all in advance.