How much of a game changer will Bill Young be?

Bill Young, Oklahoma State’s new defensive coordinator, has an excellent reputation.  I think it’s fair to say that he’s one of the major reasons many people expect the Cowboys to live up to the promise of T. Boone’s expenditures this season.  What I’m curious about is how realistic it is to expect a sea change in OSU’s defense this season – or at least in a few days from now in the opener against Georgia’s offense.

One thing we can look at in evaluating Young’s track record is how things went in the beginning at his last stop which, conveniently enough, occurred last year.

During his one year as defensive coordinator at Miami, Young’s defense ranked 28th nationally in 2008, yielding a little over 317 yards per game.  That’s a modest improvement over the ‘Canes 2007 results, when they ranked 33rd nationally, giving up almost 346 ypg.

On the surface, that’s not bad, but two grains of salt should be tossed into the mix for consideration.  First, don’t forget about the new clock rules that went into effect last season.  As a result of shortening the game, defensive numbers tended to improve as a general rule last season.  (Southern Cal finished second both in 2007 and 2008, but gave up 50 yards less per game last season.)

Second, the offenses in the ACC the last two seasons have been wretched, to put it politely.  Here are the national rankings of Miami’s cohorts in the conference in total offense last year:  50, 51, 68, 87, 88, 92, 94, 101, 102, 103 and 105.  That works out to an average ranking of 85.  Their average ranking in 2007 was the same.  (By comparison, the Big XII had four offenses in the top ten last year.)

Now, if you’re OSU, your mileage may vary with this data, of course.  First of all, you’re digging out of a much deeper hole, stat-wise, than Miami was:

Oklahoma State finished 9-4 last season, losing to Oregon in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, and was ranked No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll. But the Cowboys struggled defensively.

They finished 93rd among 119 teams in total defense, allowing 405.54 yards per game, and 76th in scoring defense at 28.1 points per game.

But you’re going to be doing it against much better offenses on average.  And I doubt that Young has the athletic talent available to him this year that he did last year, although what he’s got to work with in 2009 is more seasoned than that green bunch he had in Miami.  So I’m not sure how much there is to hang your hat on in a week or so.

None of which is to suggest that Young isn’t good at what he does, or that he won’t have the OSU defense playing at a higher level eventually.  But maybe it’s a little bit of a stretch to expect the Cowboys to step on the field in the opener looking totally transformed on that side of the ball from a year ago.

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UPDATE: This comes from a beat reporter, not an Okie State coach, so take it in that context, but still…

… Georgia is going to run the ball right at OSU. They aren’t going to come out in a spread offense and count on Cox to lead them to a win. The Cowboys’ defense is largely designed to handle Big 12 spread offenses with speed, not prodding the 300-plus pound behemoths that Georgia calls an offensive line. So even if the Pokes struggle stopping the Bulldogs’ run, they could still be successful against Big 12 offenses.

Yeah, Georgia runs out of the I-formation, but if these guys really think team speed is an issue for the Dawg offense, they’re in for a surprise.

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10 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

10 responses to “How much of a game changer will Bill Young be?

  1. ScooBoo

    Man, I sure hope we do!!!

  2. dawgfan17

    Good article, especially about the speed on our offense. I think we are going to pound them with the running game to get their safeties into the box and then burn them with Green, Moore, White and the plethora of freshmen skill players. If we can get them into man coverage on the outside then the inexperience at wr/te won’t be as noticable as they won’t have to worry about the coverages, only beating the guy in front of them. Great game for Joe as his first start in years to get his confidence up, as he should have great numbers.

  3. I’m always amazed at the hubris/misconceptions that surround spread teams:

    “They aren’t going to come out in a spread offense and count on Cox to lead them to a win.”

    That’s an utterly nonsensical sentence. Spread offenses were designed so that QBs *don’t have* to lead their teams to wins. They are purposefully uncomplicated for the QB, unless “getting the ball to playmakers in space” sounds complicated to you. To contend otherwise, you must look at all these high school offenses and believe that each is run by a teenage Elway, Montana or Favre.

    There’s a lot more on the QB’s shoulders in a pro-style, play-action, I-formation offense. Hence Stafford’s #1 draft pick and the uncertainty around Tebow’s NFL prospects.

  4. The Realist

    If their defense is better suited to stop a spread offense, then giving up 61 to Oklahoma bodes well for the Dawgs.

  5. stacedawg

    The best of Bill Young’s defenses were at Kansas when they ranked 11th in 2005 and 12th in 2007 in total defense. The rest of his KU defenses (’02, ’03, ’04 and ’06) averaged 62nd ranking (with his worst being his first year at 112th). His defenses were a little better at USC in the late 90’s but, his first year was his worst. His first year with the Cowboys will not be any different than his first years at other schools. It will take him a couple of years to get his type of players in the program. He also has a lack of Depth at many positions on d that will most likely hurt him against Georgia’s depth on offense.

  6. Digidy Dawg

    I hate to wish away my summer, but I’ve been waiting to tee up some college football ever since January. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear informative speculation from all sides and it’s kept me going for many endless months, but the anticipation is killing me. I’m watching pre season pro ball & thats like giving a crack addict a freakin pop tart to ease the craving. I’ve been running through endless scenario’s in my head about what could happen Sept. 5th, but this team is the biggest mystery I can remember since CMR showed up in Athens. All I know is that the Dawgs just have to go to Stillwater knowing they’re going to have to establish long, grinding scoring drives that don’t end in 3’s. The best defense against a team like this is to keep Okie. St.’s offense off the field, & pray that Willie has his stuff together so we don’t get in a shoot out. If we could get 3 yards a carry by running it up the gut behind Chapas & that big offensive line then we should do run it till they stop it. GATA!

  7. Eric

    The best way to stop a high flying offense is to keep them on the bench. Run it up the middle, Dawgs. Over and over and over.