Fun with numbers: Georgia and defensive yards per point

As this post indicates, I’m a fan of Phil Steele’s yards per point metric:

That’s why I’ve become more and more enamored of a stat that Steele (and others) keep track of – yards per point (ypp).  In essence, it’s a measurement of how efficient an offense is at scoring and it also measures how good a defense is at making opponents’ offenses inefficient.  (I use the term “efficiency” here in Paul’s sense of making effective use of field position.)

Teams with excellent special teams, teams with high, positive turnover margins, teams which yield less penalty yardage than they receive and teams that don’t give up many sacks are going to be more efficient scoring teams than their opponents.

They’re also going to be better on defense at making their opponent’s less efficient at scoring.  Which leads me to wonder how Georgia currently shapes up in defensive yards per point.  Given an SEC-worst 35 points yielded by the offense and special teams in five games, it’s about as poor as you might expect.  Here’s the conference, in order of defensive yards per point, from best to worst:

Alabama 958 42 22.81
LSU 1311 64 20.48
Vandy 1117 63 17.73
Florida 1293 74 17.47
Arkansas 1942 114 17.04
Ole Miss 2042 123 16.6
Tenn. 1353 82 16.5
Auburn 2199 137 16.05
Miss. St. 1754 118 14.86
Kentucky 1812 123 14.73
S. Car. 1551 119 13.03
Georgia 1293 103 12.55

Oof.  Georgia looks like the high school slut of the SEC there.  Easy.  It takes almost twice as much yardage to score against Alabama as it does the Dawgs.

But here’s where the fun part comes in… what if you take out all the scores that weren’t allowed by these teams’ defenses and then match up defensive ypp?  Well, I went back through the box scores and did just that.

Alabama 958 42 22.81 0 0 42 22.81
LSU 1311 64 20.48 0 0 64 20.48
Vandy 1117 63 17.73 7 14 42 26.6
Florida 1293 74 17.47 0 7 67 19.3
Arkansas 1942 114 17.04 7 14 93 20.88
Ole Miss 2042 123 16.6 0 14 109 18.73
Tenn. 1353 82 16.5 0 0 82 16.5
Auburn 2199 137 16.05 0 7 130 16.92
Miss. St. 1754 118 14.86 0 7 111 15.8
Kentucky 1812 123 14.73 0 14 109 16.62
S. Car. 1551 119 13.03 0 0 119 13.03
Georgia 1293 103 12.55 14 21 68 19.01

That, as they say, is more like it. Georgia jumps from twelfth to sixth, just behind Florida.

A few observations I draw from the data:

  • It’s not that I’m running this exercise to show that defensive yards per point is misleading.  Quite the contrary:  points are points.  A pick-six counts just as much as a seventy-yard touchdown drive.
  • But it’s pretty clear in Georgia’s case that if it can clean up the peripheral scoring issues it’s creating with turnovers on offense and mistakes on special teams, the defense left to its own devices can more than hold its own.
  • One reason Alabama and LSU look so formidable defensively is that they don’t give up the easy score elsewhere.
  • How much of South Carolina’s rank on the board do you blame on Ellis Johnson and how much on Stephen Garcia?
  • Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator is Bob Shoop.  If the Commodores can keep up anything close to the early pace they’ve established on defense, it’ll be borderline criminal if we don’t hear his name in the mix for this year’s Broyles Award.  (Or, after the season, on a candidates list for some school with deeper pockets looking to upgrade an underperforming defense.)  Those are some damned impressive results.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

10 responses to “Fun with numbers: Georgia and defensive yards per point

  1. Bevo

    Very good post. It’s good to see quantitative support for an observation some of us have been making since the season started:

    Our defense is even better than the final scores show and, were it not for suicidal mistakes on offense and ST, we’d have had a pretty good year so far.


  2. AthensHomerDawg

    So Tennessee’s Offense/ST isn’t giving away points?


  3. W Cobb Dawg

    “But it’s pretty clear in Georgia’s case that if it can clean up the peripheral scoring issues it’s creating with turnovers on offense…”

    Does any offense in the nation give up more points than ours?


    • Bevo

      I’d be surprised. Aside from the Boise game, our offense and defense have given up just about the same # of points.

      And even in the Boise game, the offense was essentially just going three-and-out until the game was out of reach.


  4. tduga1

    Of relevancy to this week is the fact that the Vols are 7th after a schedule of power house programs like Montana, Cincinnati, and Buffalo. Am I the only one that thinks we can score a lot of points Saturday night?


    • I’ll second that. I’ve got a friendly wager with a good friend that we win this game by at least 10 pts. Even though I always respect Tenn in Neyland stadium, I like our matchup in this game. I think we can win the game convincingly if we win or draw even in the turnover battle.


  5. RandallPinkFloyd

    Speaking of defensive stats. Take a look at this article from Bradley. The PJ love affair is back in full force. The last paragraph will make you gag.


  6. Pingback: More secondary concerns « Year of the Dawg

  7. The 35 points given up by special teams/offense doesn’t even count the extremely short fields like the 5 yard TD “drive” South Carolina had or even the 28 yard one Boise did. Yes the defense has a chance there but not much of one. If you take into account fields of less than 30 yards for the opposition I am pretty sure our defense has given up less points than our offense and special teams, ouch.