This post was sparked by some comments of KirkD. The issue: How has the Husky D fared in scoring defense compared to everyone else who has played these teams this year?
Eastern Washington is scoring 33 points per game this season, and the Huskies held them to 27 points. This is 6 points fewer than Eastern's season average.
Hawaii is scoring 37 points per game this season; the Huskies held them to 32 points, which is 5 points fewer than Hawaii's season average.
Nebraska scored 51 points on the Huskies, which was 14 points more than its season average of 37.
Cal scored 23 points, which was 8 points fewer than its season average of 31.
Utah scored 14 points, which was 9 points fewer than its season average of 23.
Colorado scored 24 points, which was 5 points more than its season average of 19.
Stanford scored 65 points, which was 16 points more than its season average of 49.
The Huskies defense has, on average, allowed opposing offenses to score 1 more point than their season averages. That would indicate that the Huskies, on average, are doing what just about everyone else is doing with regards to opposing offenses. In other words, they Huskies are giving up just about as many points as the teams (they are playing) are averaging.
There are definitely some outliers here. Specifically, the losses to Stanford and Nebraska. These two games single-handedly negate nearly all of the work the Dawgs have done this season in holding teams below their season average of points scored. Take out the Stanford and Nebraska game and the Dawgs, on average, are holding teams to 5 points lower than their season averages.
Taking away outliers can only get a person so far, especially if there are lots of outliers. In fact, examination of the outliers can prove helpful. So, lets look at them.
(more after the jump)
The Stanford and Nebraska losses had several things in common. In both cases, the Huskies were on the road, playing a highly ranked team. Note that the Huskies had no problems dealing with playing in Utah. However, what stood out to me the most is that both Nebraska and Stanford dominated us with the run game.
Take a look at this table.
|Team||Rush Attempts||RA %||Rush Yards||Yards Per Rush||Pass Attempts||Total Plays|
|Average w/o Stan and Neb||24||35.7%||54.6||2.12||45.6||70|
|Average w Stan and Neb||32||45.4%||146.9||3.8||38.7||70|
|Average of Stan and Neb||50||69.5%||377.5||7.9||21.5||71|
Stanford racked up 446 yards, while Nebraska racked up 309 yards. This makes the biggest difference down the stretch. Many teams like to have a balanced offense, meaning 60% pass and 40% run. In fact, Cal, Utah, and Colorado both came really close to getting exactly that. But, none of those teams were ably to physically dominate the Huskies in the rushing game. Stanford and Nebraska were able to use the run game to demoralize the Husky D. No one else has been able to do this.
Out of the 76 plays Nebraska ran, the Huskers rushed 72% of the time (55 times). They averaged 5.6 yards per carry, which basically guarantees a first down every two plays. Out of the 66 times Stanford ran a play, the Cardinal rushed 67% of the time (44 times). They averaged 10.1 yards per play, which theoretically allowed Stanford a 1st down every stinking time they ran the ball!!! Just to boot, none of the other teams (I did say NONE) averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry. That means none of the other teams were guaranteed a first down in three plays. (Cal would have been guaranteed 9.9 yards, technically, if they ran each play, but teams generally punt on 4th down anyways.)
So, what does this mean? The bend but don't break offense only works if the defense doesn't get physically manhandled in the run game, our defense can hold the opposing offense to scoring few enough points in order to allow the offense to win a shoot-out. The D has shown that even if a team passes a lot, Eastern and Hawaii, it can hang long enough. The reason Cal and Utah had so many pass yards was that each team was trying to come back. Just look at the last drive Cal had. (We won that game because Cal hadn't completely dominated us in the run game, as shown by the goal-line stand.) This applies in the red zone also. The Dawgs are doing better at defending the pass this year in the red zone than anywhere else on the field only when the opposing team can't run all over us. It is what it is.
The bottom line is this, as long as we don't get dominated by a run game, the Huskies will win. We should beat Arizona, but lookout for Oregon.