This year has caused me to think a lot. How is it possible that this team feels so different? I know the offense is either new personnel due to graduation or injury, but for some reason it feels equally as different on defense where the core of the squad returns. Like any engineer I defer to numbers when I don't understand something.
First let's get the numbers out of the way. They aren't organized the best way possible, but they are there to view. I will add my thoughts after the table.
|First Downs: Per Game||21.00||19.43||1.57|
|First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty||41 - 76 - 9||99 - 159 - 14||-|
|Rushing: Yards / Attempt||3.80||3.95||0.15|
|Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD||226 - 859 - 8||489 - 1931 - 21||-|
|Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD||231 - 132 - 4 - 6||451 - 288 - 10 - 26||-|
|Total Offense: Yards / Play||5.11||5.8||0.70|
|Total Offense: Plays - Yards||457 - 2334||940 - 5466||-|
|Punt Returns: Yards / Return||8.55||10.6||2.00|
|Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD||11 - 94 - 0||31 - 327 - 2||-|
|Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return||23.79||23.7||0.11|
|Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD||14 - 333 - 0||47 - 1113 - 0||-|
|Punting: Yards / Punt||43.52||40.8||2.74|
|Punting: Punts - Yards||31 - 1349||65 - 2651||-|
|Tackles for Loss/Game||5.17||7.57||2.40|
|Opponent QB Hurries/Game||3.33||2.6||0.69|
|Time of Possession / Game||34:17.5||31:14.7||03:02.8|
|3rd Down Conversions: Conversion %||38%||39%||-1%|
|4th Down Conversions: Conversion %||63%||56%||7%|
|Red Zone: Success %||85%||84%||1%|
|Field Goals: Success %||69%||75%||-6%|
|PAT Kicking: Success %||100%||100%||0%|
|2-Point Conversions: Success %||N/A||0.60||-|
I didn't include it, but our Points Against and Yards Against are either equivalent or better than last year. The most shocking thing these numbers showed me was the defense is not helping the offense AT ALL. I wasn't able to find average starting field position but I have to imagine this year is worse than last. There are zero big plays from our defense this year. No long INT returns, no drive killing sacks or TFL, and most importantly there is not a single defensive TD this year. Don't get me wrong, this unit is elite at preventing yards and TD's. They are making good plays, but they aren't making game changing plays.
The other thing I already knew but was reaffirmed is how much I miss Keshawn Martin. Punt returns went from a weapon to a liability this year. Not only have we not scored or helped put the offense in better starting field position, but we are now giving the ball back to our opponent. If you are like me, you hold your breath every time Nick Hill is about to "catch" the punt. While we are on special teams let's recap this year and how painful it has been: more missed field goals, more dropped punts, a blocked punt, an onside kick by IU (ugh), and more roughing the kickers.
I may as well pick on the offense too. The single most shocking thing I noticed when comparing this year to last is how average our rushing attack is. I mean you watch Mr. Bell run around, run through, and jump over defenders and you think "WE ARE AWESOME!". Unfortunately the team is average (he is just awesome). This point needs it's own table:
|% Rushing Plays||49.5%||52.0%|
Seriously, who saw that coming? We are on par with last year. My memories of last year's rushing attack are not fond... I'll leave it at that and let this mind boggling table sink in.
- The Offense is less efficient and underwhelming compared to last year. We all knew that already and expected it. What is surprising is that our rushing attack has effectively not improved.
- P.S. Lots-o-dropped passes. You could argue if Maxwell got the same advantages that Cousins got (WR's catching the balls he threw right to them and some defensive bonuses), things might be perceived very differently. I remember a number of people using phrases like "Cousins managed the game well". Maxwell hasn't had a turnover since the first half of the first game, which is pretty good I think.
- The Special Teams are now a liability, not an asset. Mike Sadler is our lone bright spot.
- The Defense is good at doing their job, but they aren't good at throwing the young Offense a bone. Also, it is sad to say but the stars of our show (Gholston, Allen, and Adams) look incredibly average.