Outdated Stats

Written by Kyle Porter
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Photo Attribution: US Presswire

I was watching Dana take on Manny Diaz this weekend (like watching an astrophysicist challenge a homeless guy in a chess match) and FOX started flashing all these fancy yards per game and points per game stats at me.

I think the graphic was showing how poor WVU’s defense is considered nationally based on points and yards per game given up. This incensed me and I wanted to explain why real quick because it has an OSU twist.

First, let’s look at this tweet the other day:

Now think about this, does it seem fair to rank one defense against another based on yards per game given up or points per game given up? No? OK, so why are we still doing it?

Teams have different styles. Oregon, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State come to the park every Saturday saying “how fast can we score and how many times can we do it?” Their goal is basically to get their own defense back out there as quickly as possible.

LSU on the other hand probably has employees solely in charge of things like finding out how many different ways you can score on defense and special teams.

It doesn’t seem right to compare SEC offenses to Big 12 offenses (for example) or the other way around.

So everybody’s all like “yeah, West Virginia’s defense suuuuucks” right? How about this:

WVU yards per play given up: 5.78
KSU yards per play given up: 5.15

But Kansas State “has a strong D” because they give up 363 yards per game (rank: 46th) and West Virginia “has a terrible D” because they give up 460 yards per game (rank: 104th).

The 2011 Oklahoma State squad is the poster child for this: ranked 59th in yards per play (not bad) and 107th in yards per game (awful).

But hear me out here: it doesn’t matter how many yards per game you give up. Really, OSU proved that last year. If your style is fast and you try to run as many plays as possible then as long as you’re gaining more yards per play than your opponent (OSU: +1.79 last year, +3.12 this year – see below for more) and winning the turnover battle then you’re pretty much set[1. The biggest problem this year is that OSU isn’t getting turnovers].

This has been one of the most intriguing things to me about the evolution of OSU as an offense with Fedora/Dana/Monken and something we’ll continue to talk about here on PFB (as OKC Dave did excellently last week).

I just hope, for our sake (and West Virginia’s), national outlets follow suit.

  • I agree in that points per game isn’t a quality indicator of the defense, as it is points per play. I would still argue that points per game do matter in the big picture of things, as that can determine wins/losses. But, it is worth it to give the other team’s O more plays and potentially more points IF it means your team is scoring quickly.

  • OSUaggie

    It’s that old principle that as long as we score just about every possession, we really don’t care that much if you score, hopefully just not as much as we do….then we win…..OSU right now is #1 in the nation in Red Zone Offense and #117th in the nation in Red Zone Defense.

  • Cowpoke

    I think points per possession is by far the most important defensive stat. Yards per play, yards per game, points per game all miss the mark for one reason or another.

    You can compare points per posesion across different types of teams and get a good feel for how successful that team is. Yards per play is decent but discounts turnovers, and can actually punish agressive defenses who give up more home run plays.

    • Interesting point, I like it too, and I’m open to debating this…I just think we need something other than ppg and ypg.