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OSU defense struggles on long drives

Oklahoma State has been good at stopping teams in general but long drives have killed them.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

I think I’ve found the answer to our (sometimes hostile) questions about the Oklahoma State defense.

Your answer to me and my answer to you.

To this point we’ve been unable to agree on the Oklahoma State defense from the last few years — most of you thought it was atrocious, I thought it was pretty good and sometimes great.

But now I have something to show you that reveals why our perceptions are what they are and why we’re both kind of right in a way.

Brian Fremeau — he of Football Outsiders and ESPN employment — has a really wonky football stats site called BCF Toys. This weekend he posted some figures on points per drive for 2012 and which teams were good, which were horrendous.

Again, points per drive is a much better measure of how good or bad a fast team’s defense (and offense) is than total points or points per game or anything like that. It shows how much you’re giving up every time the other squad gets the rock.

So what did it reveal for OSU’s much maligned D?

Let’s take a look at total points per drive given up for the last five years (national rank in parentheses):

2008: 2.41 (86th)
2009: 1.58 (22nd)
2010: 1.67 (25th)
2011: 1.53 (17th)[1. LOL at Alabama having a 0.51 PPD defense this year. Next closest was LSU at .95. Bama is a joke.]
2012: 1.93 (46th)

The reason for the dropoff in 2012 is, obviously, OSU had its lowest turnover creation mark (22) since 2007 (19). They turned teams over 44 times in 2011 which was a ridiculous amount (and not sustainable) and the reason you see the jump from the mid-20s to nearly the top 15 that year.

But here’s the thing that shocked me — the thing that you’ll look at and say “SEE, I TOLD YOU!”

OSU gave 2.20 points per drive on long drives, or drives that started inside the other team’s own 20 — good for 96th in the country.

Here’s a look at the last five years…

2008: 2.43 (112th)
2009: .75 (18th)
2010: 1.36 (58th)
2011: 1.65 (75th)
2012: 2.20 (96th)

Gosh that 2008 defense was awful — truly an abomination. It surrendered more points per drive when teams started inside their own 20 than it did overall.[1. This actually happened in three of the last five years which is insane.]

And the 2012 version of OSU’s long drive defense wasn’t much better. This is often what you get with a turnover-heavy, bend-but-don’t-break defense and why it often looks worse than it is. When teams are stringing loooooong drives of 80+ yards against you it certainly feels worse than if a team gets the ball at your 30 and punches it in with five plays.

It’s also probably a little demoralizing for the offense — not to mention throws off their rhythm when a team strings together multiple 15-play drives against the OSU defense. Gundy to Monken: You want Chelf out there? Oh yeah, he graduated while Baylor was on that 21-minute drive.

It’s crazy to me that OSU has been able to sustain a really good overall points per drive defense while being pretty horrendous at long drives.

In the end it doesn’t much matter what the breakdown as long as your overall total is pretty good (last year’s was average) but it might be the reason none of us can agree on OSU’s D. I look at our overall total and say “ok, I can live with that.” You look at our long drive total and say “yiiiiikes.” I understand both sides.

However, I bet Quinn Sharp would not be excited to read this post:


Last note: the last time we didn’t have Bill Young coaching our D?


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