A Look at Oklahoma State’s Defensive Efficiency Over the Years

Written by Kyle Porter

We looked at Oklahoma State’s historical offensive efficiency through the years the other day, and as you can probably imagine, it’s pretty good. Today I want to look at the defensive efficiency which, maybe surprisingly, is also pretty good.

The data I have goes back to 2008 when OSU (and the Big 12) looked completely different than it does now. I compared OSU’s points per drive numbers against the NCAA median from each year. Lower is better here.

I should note that this data excludes garbage time drives.

That 2013 defense was No. 5 in the country in PPD behind Michigan State, Florida State, Louisville and North Texas. The 2009 defense was nearly as good. In fact, from 2009-2011 were some of the better defenses OSU has ever had from a statistical standpoint.

That last three years? Not so much. OSU has been pretty average on defense for the entire year, although it has made up for it by continuing to create turnovers.

Let’s look at how much better or worse OSU has been than the median NCAA team.

Again, lower is better here. That 2013 team was absurd. The 2016 team was the first since that team to be better than the median.

“You do enough to win the game,” said defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer recently. “We all want to set goals. How successful are you (in scoring defense), turnovers and red zone defense. Those are the three most relevant things that determine winning football games.”

“We were at 1.8 last year (in the Big 12), we finished second in the conference. We led the conference in red zone defense. We led the conference in turnovers. Is that a good year on defense?”

Seems like it is!

It may be true that when it comes to Big 12-only numbers, OSU was the best in the conference, but it has room to improve. OSU’s defense is like Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson’s putting. It only has to be slightly above average for them to find copious amounts of success because of their offense.

The trend has been good, too. OSU has improved in each of the last two years in the points per drive statistics. If they do so again, and the offense does its thing, Spencer might find himself coaching well after New Year’s Day in 2018.

  • Adam M.

    I know the defense has it’s own deficiencies, but I can’t help think 2014 is a bit of an outlier considering we were so poor at sustaining offensive drives. It would be interesting to know how much more time that defensive team spent on the field in relation to other years.