Coming up with a better way to judge defense

There has never been a time like this in the history of college football.

Offenses are off the charts good and defenses have virtually no chance to stop anyone, unless that defense is from Alabama or Clemson.

All this has led me to look for a better way to truly analyze what success is for a defense in college football. Yardage stats, third-down rates and points per game are all totally flawed stats that can very easily be manipulated to fit your agenda. There has to be a better way.

There is.

The premise is simple: the defense’s job is to keep the other team from scoring touchdowns.

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Therefore, a successful defense possession is when you force a punt, stop someone on fourth down, create a turnover or force a field goal attempt.

I believe even if the field goal is made, three points are better then giving up seven so that is a win for the defense in modern day college football.

I have worked this formula out with a few teams from this season. Arkansas’ defense led by Paul Rhoads stopped opponents on offense 61¬†percent of the time. Alabama has stopped opposing offenses 88¬†percent of the time by our formula of what success is.

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Georgia stopped opponents 87 percent of the time. Oklahoma in the non-defensive Big 12 conference had a defensive stop rate of 73 percent.

What about John Chavis as Texas A&M last year? Apparently, he’s coming to Arkansas, so how about his team last year in College Station? Chavis’ group had a 74% defensive stop rate.

So what are my takeaways?

Defense still wins championships and it isn’t close. You can win a bunch of games with a stop rate in the mid-70’s, but if you want to make the playoff, you have to be closer to 90 percent.

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Also, the scale looks to me a lot like the academic grading scale we are all used to seeing which makes it easy to read. Arkansas had a D- defense last season. That feels about right to me.

Texas A&M had a C level defense. That is pretty much in line with their results last year.

It probably isn’t perfect, but for me, it makes the picture a lot clearer of what defensive success is in modern day college football when it seems like the first team to 40 is going to win almost all of the time.


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