Can anybody play defense in this league?

Alabama’s defense gave up 628 yards on Saturday.  Let that roll around in your brain for a minute.  But not too long.  Texas A&M allowed an Alabama offense that only mustered 206 yards against Virginia Tech to gain 568 yards on the road.  Georgia’s gained almost 1100 yards against two teams ranked in the top twelve – and yielded over 900 yards in those two games.  Vanderbilt, which finished ahead of Georgia last season in total defense and scoring defense, surrendered more points and yardage against South Carolina than the Dawgs did the week before.  Oregon piled up 658 yards of offense on Tennessee.  In three quarters.

So is defense in the SEC becoming a quaint notion?  Not exactly.  I think Rece Davis is on to something when he writes,

Everybody’s wondering where the defense is in the SEC after high-scoring games between Georgia and South Carolina and Alabama and Texas A&M (1,200 yards of offense). You can have good defense, but sometimes good and veteran quarterback play will trump that. That’s what the SEC has with the ultimate winner in AJ McCarron, maybe the most dynamic player of this generation in Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw … all kinds of talent at that position. And that’s why you’re seeing higher-scoring games in the SEC.

I don’t think the athletes on defense have changed. The expertise at quarterback is the biggest thing that’s changed for me, and that’s a big deal moving forward.

Three of the top eight quarterbacks in the country in passer rating play in the SEC.  Four more are in the top thirty.

In other words, it’s probably a little too early to panic, at least if your team has a good quarterback.


Filed under SEC Football

151 responses to “Can anybody play defense in this league?

  1. Not sure if I read it here or elsewhere, but the comment about how we have to reevaluate what “good defense” is needs to be addressed. With the advantages in play for offenses, and the tempo in which they operate, holding a team to 400 yards is the new 300; at least against good teams, anyway. 23 is the new 13 as far as points is concerned. Sure, there are still inept offenses a la Arkansas, Kentucky or VT, so the 200 yard games will still happen, but against good QBs, defenses are going to give up points and years. Now, 600+ is obscene, but 450 isn’t. Bama played three pro-caliber QBs last year (including Mett), and all three put up points and yards on Bama.

  2. Split those stats up and look at “vs Ranked”. Top three are McCarron, Manziel and Murray.

  3. ARod

    Murray is middle of the pack in the SEC.
    He had one good game, and one bad game.

    UGA defense is bottom of the pile..
    6 teams are holding teams to under 20 points a game

    • So how would you describe McCarron?

    • 20/29, 300+ yards and two TOs. If that’s bad, that’s a good thing for Georgia.

    • It’s “Fun With Stats: Week Three” edition apparently.

      Murray has a 71% completion percentage, averaging 316 per game, and has a 4/1 TD/INT ratio that should really be 6/1 if the ACC replay official hadn’t been an idiot in the Clemson game vs. two top-ten teams.

      Mett has faced two tomato cans, which is why he is atop that list. James Franklin didn’t even play especially well against Toledo, and we will soon forget who Brandon Allen is. When you get to the teams that have faced actual competition, you have Manziel who lit up Bama, Murray, and McCarron. I suppose as long as he is in the middle of that pack, he’s doing okay.

      • GoBlue

        TCU’s pass defense is right around Clemson’s.

        • Oh, right. Let’s compare Murray vs. Clemson and Mett vs. TCU:

          Mett – 16 of 32 (50%), 251 yards, 1 TD – passer rating of 126.2
          Murray – 20 of 29 (69%), 323 yards, 2 TDs that overturned and spotted at the goal line on review, and 1 INT – passer rating of 155.6.

          • Rody

            Trey, you’ll lose that argument, Mettenberger had a 75 qbr vs TCU where Murray’s was 61 vs Clemson.

            Both pass defenses are statically similar.


            • If you knew how QBR was calculated, you would know that other factors that aren’t necessarily his fault weighed Murray’s rating down (like sacks and penalties). If you isolate it solely on his passing contributions, Murray has the #1 and #3 games in the conference in clutch-weighted expected points added on plays with passing attempts. And those games were both against top ten competition. So, tell me again how Mettenberger is better than Murray.

              • Rody

                Sacks are 100% Murray’s fault. He can ALWAYS either:
                1) Hit the outlet
                2) throw it away

                Murray historically chooses to look downfield for the long passes, and overestimates his abilities, and underestimates his opponents.

                Murray has been 2-3x easier to sack than Cox or Stafford were.

                Delay of game penalties are charged to the Qb, so that’s also his responsibility. Another major Murray flaw.

          • Rody

            Murray did that against the 77th ranked pass defense (Clemson)

            where Mettenberger’s was against the 65th ranked pass defense (TCU).

            Even though Mett faced a better pass defense, he also had a better qbr (74 Mett vs TCU vs 61 Murray vs Clemson )

          • Rody

            Murray has 0 passing td’s vs Clemson, where\d you get 2 from?

            • If you were a Georgia fan, you would have remembered both the Marshall catch and Wooten catches where both dove for the pylon, and appeared to make it, but both plays were ruled down at the one-inch line. One inch of stat padding is all that separates Murray from an out-of-this world QBR, passer rating, etc. Because, you know, looking at stats without acknowledging what actually happened in the rest of the game is super helpful.

  4. ARod

    AJ is also middle of the pack right now. He has a great team, and great coaching, but doesn’t play all that well (QBR) in big games, a lot like Murray.

    How would you describe Zach Mettenberger QBR? Guess Coach Richt was dead wrong in picking Murray over Mettenberger.

  5. ASEF

    I believe the B12 and P12 trotted out those elite QB arguments a time or two as well. I think it’s more experienced offenses led by elite Qbs and young Ds. LSU, Ga, BAMA, TAm all have lots of firepower on one side and inexperience on the other. Things will settle down.

  6. ARod

    So far, Mettenberger, Franklin, Manziel, Allen, and I’d go with Bo Wallace at Ole Miss as the No 5 since he’s had 2 top 25 QBR games in the SEC, and Murray and AJ only have 1.

    Those 5 are more consistently good than Murray and AJ.

  7. AusDawg85

    “…a little too early to panic.” Too late. We Are UGA.

    P.S. Lexicon needs a new definition for trolling with stats. Strolling? Trats? Strating? The manipulation of statistics to make absurd points has increased dramatically around here. Nuanced debate is dead.

  8. W Cobb Dawg

    I blame Clowney.

  9. It’s amazing how much a troll can ruin a comment section.

    • Normaltown Mike

      Did you know that Blake Barnes is the greatest QB to ever play for CMR?



    • This topic is even interesting and worthy of talking about. I’d like to get other’s points of view on the matter: a trend, a blip, a sea change? I agree with ASEF that teams are all reloading on defense at the same time, but I think there is something to the notion of high-powered offenses being led by experienced QB’s that can take advantage of that inexperience.

      I don’t think there is anything that can be gleaned comparing stats in week three between teams and players that have played meaningful competition and those that have not.

  10. BMac

    Troll sign #1…. Using stats 3 weeks into a season to make an argument of who’s better regardless of competition faced with an incredibly small sample size. Run along now please.

    • uglydawg

      I I hate trolls as much as anyone, but we need to be a little bit sympathetic…I’d expect my little sister to defend me if I was in the same situation.

  11. GoBlue

    Facts, facts, the truth tells no lies. Stop making excuses for your qb and defensive coordinator. They both stink in big games

  12. uglydawg

    Did Mett lead LSU to play in the SEC championship game last year?
    Give me that fact. A fact that tells no lies. How’d LSU do against Clemson in that bowl game? Give me that fact….a fact that tells no lies.

    • Rody

      I do believe Mett did lead his team top the National Championship in his first year at Butler. Had a very Cam Newton like season. Which most expected, he performed superb at Georgia in his last Spring.

      • Dawg19

        Yeah, yeah…and Washaun Ealey was a better running back than Herschel because of ypc. Same argument, different position. Yawn.

  13. uglydawg

    GoBlow is a Tennessee fan who is miserable. He was not accepted to UGA in the 70’s and went to a smaller college near Obknoxiousville. When Tennessee is hopeless, he turns his angst against Georgia.

  14. IveyLeaguer

    There is a reason defenses are giving up more today, but it isn’t one or two things. It’s a conglomeration of things, all of which are enabled by the rule changes that radically favor the offense, beginning with the rule that made holding legal in the mid 1980’s or so.

    Since then, it’s been a steady evolution of rules designed to create more scoring. And today we’re seeing the outcome of that as these changes have become integrated in to the game. This outcome can take a long time, sometimes a decade or more, because it takes time for athletes to grow up and develop under the new rules.

    For example, today we’re seeing very athletic QB’s, of every flavor, like never before. Whether they are more athletic pro-style pocket passers, or dual QB’s who are technically sound, accurate passers, the outcome is similar.

    The other thing is the natural cycle of offense/defense as offensive coordinators plot and scheme ways to operate under the new rules. Steve Spurrier came into the League in 1990, shortly after holding was made legal, and began playing pitch and catch with accurate QB’s and great athletes. It took defenses a decade to catch up, personnel-wise

    The League’s defensive coordinators scrambled to adjust, most of them without the personnel they needed, because the cover corners and defensive ends needed to defend the innovation had to be developed from youth. And there simply weren’t near enough of those guys to go around. Only a few teams had them, and fewer still had enough of them.

    Similarly, what I think we’re seeing today is a natural process of the offenses cycling ahead of defenses, as OC’s respond to significant rule changes. Pace may be the major change, but it isn’t alone by any means. But the cycle has now reached it’s outer impact.

    How defenses are going to catch up, and how long it will take, I have no idea, other than to look at past patterns. That suggests it will be a while.

    I guess the outcome produces some entertaining games for the current dumbed-down climate. But competitive college football, to many of us, has always been entertaining. Some of the greatest games I’ve seen were low scoring games .. Georgia’s pair of 10-9 games in 1983 come to mind.

    Pace is probably the biggest influence on scoring right now, for a number of reasons. Not a rule change in itself, pace is enable by rule changes, but controlled by the officials, who can regulate the pace of the game to their liking. Since many offenses are wanting to go as fast as the officials will let them, the officials today have a LOT of influence on the outcome of the game.

    I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I think the officials have gone too far this time, and hope they’ll reel it back in somewhat. So far this season, they seem to be heading a little bit in that direction.

    So, I expect this offensive cycle to continue for some time. With every cycle in the game so far, defenses have always caught up. I suspect they will again. But without some help from the rules, I can’t see how.

    • Rody

      There’s a balance of power shift in the SEC.

      There are half a dozen defenses holding scoring below 20 points per game.

      Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are not one of the top 6 defenses this year in scoring in 2013.

      • The top 6 defenses in scoring so far in 2013 are Arkansas, Florida, Miss State, Auburn, Missouri, and LSU. Ironically, only one of those teams is ranked in the top fifteen, yet Alabama is #1, Georgia is #9/10, and South Carolina is #12/13. Where is the balance of power shifting?

  15. Definitely not BuLLLLdawg/Thomas Brown/Rody/GoBlue/ARod

    Greetings, gentlemen! The fact of the matter remains- Mettenberger was Mr. Clutch in the all-important G-Day game, definitely never did a single thing wrong in Valdosta, and Aaron Murray can’t beat good teams except the ones that aren’t really good because I say so, and also Missouri’s James Franklin is a top quarterback, AJ McCarron sucks, and the teams that play cupcakes clearly have better stats than the ones who don’t because they’re simply better teams.

    (breaks wind)

    I bid you GOOD DAY!

  16. RP

    AM passer rating v FL Atlantic 2012 = 249.09
    ZM passer rating v TAM 2012 = 77.41
    AM better quarterback, case closed.

    • Rody

      Mett’s 98.6 QBR vs UAB is a higher QBR than Murray’s ever posted in 4 seasons against anyone.

      Murray gets sacked too much, has too many penalties, and is too inaccurate to ever post a 98.6

    • I think 2012 is the only part of Mett’s career we’re not supposed to discuss.

      • Rody

        In 2012, Mett posed a 83 qbr vs Alabama

        Murray vs Alabama in 2012, a few days later, a lowly 32 qbr.

        • Good ol’ QBR:

          Further controversy erupted when the Total QBR system gave the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow a higher rating than the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in their respective Week 5 contests in 2011. Noting that Rodgers completed 26 of 39 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Atlanta Falcons, while Tebow completed four of 10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, and six rushes for 38 yards and a touchdown, in a loss to the San Diego Chargers, Mike Florio of wrote that he’ll “continue to ignore ESPN’s Total QBR stat.”[10] Rodgers himself was surprised: “I saw the [QBR stats] and chuckled to myself. I played a full game, [Tebow] played the half. He completed four passes, I completed 26. I think it incorporates QB runs as well … The weighting of it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”[11] ESPN’s Stats and Information Group explained that Tebow’s higher rating was the result of him staging a partial comeback, taking no sacks, and having positive rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, among other factors.

          Tell me, can you coherently explain how QBR is calculated?

          • Rody

            Something tells me Bama’s pass defense was ranked higher than Auburn’s last year.

            Something tells me that’s a better measure of qb than Auburn.

            If you think Auburn’s 2012 pass defense, was better than Bama’s, wow.

            • I don’t.

              It makes ZM’s performance against Auburn horrible. Wow, indeed.

              That wasn’t even his worst showing. He turned in a epic 10.4 qbr against something called Towson. Double wow.

              • Rody

                Murray had qbr’s UNDER 10, against Florida and South Carolina in 2012.

                • you’re just proving his point. both qbs had shitty games if you feed into the mythical QBR (created solely to benefit mobile QBs). would you rather that happen against UF and USCe (11 win teams last year) or Auburn and some FCS cupcake slaughter?

                  but, you know, twist whatever stats you like until it fuels your purpose and ignore those same stats when they don’t. super not annoying at all🙂

                  • JW


                    Qbr benefits mobile qb’s? Are you saying since Zach Mettenberger is ranked #1 in QBR in the conference, that he’s more mobile than Johnny Manziel?

                    • No, but it does mean that a meaningless contrived statistic favors Mett because of softer scheduling. After watching TCU derp it up against TT I feel confidant that they were just another cupcake to pad LSU stats. That soft scheduling out wights the bonus QBR points JFF gets for QB rushing yards. There is a correlation between QB rushing ability and high QBR, but QB rushing ability isn’t the only cause of a high QBR. I would also like to nippick and point out that there is a big difference between QB mobility and QB rushing ability. You can’t use the terms interchangeably.

        • In 2012, Mett posed a 15.3 qbr vs Auburn

          Murray vs Auburn in 2012, a few days later, a 97.1 qbr.

          Hey, this trolling stuff is fun.

          • Rody

            But you posted earlier that the qbr system isn’t accurate and now you’re using it to defend Murray?

            • Nope. I’m using it to show that you’re talking out of your ass.

              • Rody

                sloppy, can’t have it both ways.

                • I keep trying to tell you that, but you won’t listen.

                  • JW

                    Against unranked teams, Aaron Murray is as good quarterback–he still gets sacked and has penalties in those games, but overall he wins almost every time. No argument against teams like Auburn, Coastal Carolina, and New Mexico State he has put up some terrific games.

                    Alabama, LSU, Florida, Aaron Murray, other teams in the top fifteen, never has put up a big QBR, outside of the one fluke South Carolina game. I think his fear of Clowney forced him to change his game to things he’d really never done much n the bigger games like almost all short passes, roll out scrambles, and so on. If Murray has that same respect for the LSU defensive front, Mike Bobo might opt for a similar offensive strategy and that bodes well for Murray’s future in these type of big match-ups.

  17. AG

    I got all excited when I saw “91 responses”. I was looking forward to the insightful dialogue that I come to love and expect from this blog. Then I began to read….

  18. Turd Ferguson

    Funniest. Thread. Ever.

  19. Definitely not BuLLLLdawg/Thomas Brown/Rody/GoBlue/ARod

    The fact is, QBR is, um, with the thing and the carry the one and when you consider….

    Fine. I’ll admit it. I’m Logan Gray. Are you people happy now? Go Buffs.

  20. Rody

    The point of this thread is:
    1- SEC can’t play defense anymore
    Really, why are 6 teams holding offenses to less than 20 points a game?

    2- QB’s like the great, mr 2-12 vs top 15 teams, must be why
    Uh, no, he’s not.

    3- 2013 QB’s are SO MUCH BETTER than 2012 sec qb’s
    No, 5 sec qb’s finished in the top 35 in qbr in 2012.
    5 sec qb’s are in the top 35 in 2013.

  21. Dawgfan Will

    Statistics is fun!

  22. TennesseeDawg

    Maybe we should just wait 2 weeks and play the game then we’ll find out who’s the better QB/team.

  23. Dolly Llama

    The Senator has lost control of GTP.

  24. NRBQ

    Mark Richt has lost controll…