**Jedi Mind Wave** "The Defense Is Not a Concern to You"

6a00cd970db9064cd5011016516b70860c-500pi_medium

I don't know X's and O's all that well, and this post will not be about Over's and Under's and safety help.  The defense on the field that I watch every Saturday is razor thin, and in some places it seems, non existent.  Brandon Graham has been disruptive but has yet to take a game over like we know he's capable of doing.  The linebacking has been tentative, and the secondary has played about how you'd expect them to play given the lack of pressure.  It's pretty clear that the corner's are playing not to get burnt and hoping that Graham and company can pressure the QB into making some bad throws.  But for all the failing this defense does to the eyeball test, take a look at this:

Team TD FG Points Allowed Per Game Yards Allowed Per Game
Penn State 4 4 10.3 233.8
Ohio State 6 1 11.3 258.8
Iowa 4 6 11.5 304.3
Indiana 11 3 22.3 327.3
Michigan 10 7 22.8 385.8
Minnesota 11 5 23.0 357.8
Wisconsin 12 4 23.8 371.8
Michigan State 12 7 25.8 362.8
Northwestern 14 4 27.5 335.5
Illinois 9 7 28.0 386.0
Purdue 16 3 30.3 421.5

 

The rankings on that there table is done by scoring defense, which shows Michigan, astonishingly, 5th in the Big Ten, yielding 22.8 points per game.  You can see three clear breaks in the scoring defenses around the conference, with the top three holding a clear advantage over the morass of teams stuck in the 22-23 range, and the 25+ types bringing up the rear.  For all the consternation about the defense, they're shockingly slightly (and I mean slightly) above average in conference. 

So where does the aforementioned consternation come from?  Total yardage - which sees Michigan drop to 7th in conference at 385.8 yards per game.  Typically you see the opposite from teams - a good yardage defense combined with a bad scoring defense - and this is indicative of a turnover prone offense that puts the defense in bad situations where scoring is extremely likely.  This was the case of last year's defense.  Instead, we've got a good (loosely termed) scoring defense, and a poor total yardage offense.  What gives?

For one, this defense has taken the ever dangerous "bend don't break" philosophy to heart - allowing opponents to kick 7 FG's compared to only allowing 10 TD's (note that Illinois has only played 3 games, which is why their stats look off).  If you think of a defensive stat called "Red Zone Efficiency" that takes into account that teams will likely make a FG once they get in the Red Zone and the defense's job becomes "holding them to that FG" rather than "prevent them from scoring," Michigan is only outmatched by Iowa and Penn State - both of whom have top-3 defenses.  Settling for field goals doomed Indiana (BTW - IU's defense is for realz - more in a seperate post), and was problematic for Notre Dame.  Compare this to the Michigan offense which has so far amassed 20 TD's and made only 3 FG's (a skewed stat in this comparison, as Michigan has scored a lot on long plays, etc.  Again - more on this later.).  The upshot is this:  The defense has been good enough to keep opponents out of the endzone.  It's ugly and frustrating at times, but at the end of the day it takes 3 FG's to beat one TD+EP. 

So yes, this is spun 3 ways from Saturday, but it's still something of empirical evidence as to how on God's green earth the defense has managed to look so bad but hey, 4-0.  Put simply: if you're settling for FG's against this Michigan squad, you're going to lose, and the defense - if it excels at anything - excels at making you settle for FG's.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Maize n Brew

You must be a member of Maize n Brew to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Maize n Brew. You should read them.

Join Maize n Brew

You must be a member of Maize n Brew to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Maize n Brew. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker