OSU football: Don’t blame the defense
OSU football talk is starting to migrate to an old standby. What’s wrong with the defense? And there’s a clear answer. The Cowboy offense — and kicking game, for that matter — is doing the OSU defense few favors.
OSU is allowing 29.2 points a game, which ranks 87th in the nation (out of 120 teams). The Cowboys’ 52.6 points a game ranks second in scoring offense.
But you can’t judge defenses strictly on points. Not in this century. I’ve written about this before. How the length of games and the style of offenses has skewed defensive statistics.
Here is the best way to judge a defense. How frequently it gets stops. Its percentage of getting a turnover, or forcing a punt, or stopping a fourth-down try, or stopping a team far enough away that a field goal is missed.
Conversely, I count a touchdown as one point and a field goal as a half. So if you give up three TDs in three possessions, that’s 100 percent. Give up three field goals in three possessions, that’s 50 percent.
I’m still trying to get a grasp of what accounts for a solid percentage, but I think anything under 30 percent is good defense. Anything over 40 is awful defense. In the 30s is sort of average.
So where does OSU’s defense stand? The Cowboys’ percentage is 24.6. That’s right. OSU is giving up a touchdown less than 25 percent of the time. And here’s the stunner. The Cowboys have been solid in every game.
Washington State: 21/2 out of 17. Troy: 41/2 out of 16. Tulsa: 3 out of 12. Texas A&M: 5 out of 15. Louisiana-Lafayette: 3 out of 13.
OSU’s worst defensive performance was against A&M, when the Aggies scored five touchdowns in 15 possessions. But that’s the night OSU produced five turnovers. You produce five turnovers, and you’ll win almost any game you play. If a five-turnover night is a defense’s worst performance, that’s a good defense.
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