Was a bit bored and was looking at some stats for the ND and MSU defenses of 2012 on ncaa.com as we always hear how superior they were and now hear how superior they will be in 2013, and I came upon a realization. I think most of us (myself being guilty) underestimate statistically how nice of a defense we had. I think most of us are in awe of the 2011 v 2010 transformation with essentially the same crew, but without a ton of highly rated players (for various) reasons including the loss of the best corner Michigan had some very impressive stats, inclusive of a beatdown by Alabama.
Scoring defense: 19.85 ppg, 20th in the nation. Take out the non BCS teams and its 18th. (ND 2, MSU 9). Fun fact: Rutgers was 4th.
320 ypg, 13th in the nation. One non BCS ahead. (ND 7, MSU 4). Rutgers again impressive at #10, albeit its Big East football.
Passing defense 5th in the country, but rushing defense was the one negative at 51st in the country.
Maybe it also was the lack of splash plays - 78th in the country in sacks, 51st in fumbles recovered, so we did not see the "sexy" plays week to week or the scoring plays by the defense. But this team played a very solid brand of fundamental defense (which we all knew) that created perhaps a greater sum of parts than individual pieces - esp. considering some of the talent gaps versus a vintage Michigan team. Also keep in mind this team faced the #1, #2, and #3 teams of 2012.
I know stats are not everything and it needs to pass a sight test but the stats were generally better than I assumed and not very far from those "elite defenses". Maybe people need to ask "how are we going to score on this Michigan defense" more often... This makes me even more excited for what we will see in the next half decade with the talent influx coming in. But let me be the first to say while I was so very impressed with Mattison, I did not realize just how well the defense was doing last year, helping to offset some of the hijinks we had from time to time on offense.