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UB Versus: Let's Talk About the Defense

I am a staunch opponent of the UB Defense. As a result of that, I avoided defensive stats in UB Versus, no need to beat a dead horse right? However after another great offensive outing was offset by a poor defensive showing, I had to know, historically, is this the worst UB defense in recent history?

To answer that, I looked at UB Defenses through 6 games, between 2001 and 2014. I analyzed:

Total Yards Allowed, Total Points Allowed, Yards per Rush, per Pass Attempt, Per Drop back, Per Completion and Per play, Passing Percentage Allowed, Sacks, Negative Plays and Turnovers.

My conclusion:

Defense is a combination of scheme and player effort. Scheme can be summarized as bend but don't break, allowing short plays and hoping to stop the offense eventually, or aggressive, where the defense tries to force the opponent off the field quickly.

For player effort I consider two types, scheme aided effort, or scheme spiting effort.

If UB rushes three men, and drop 9, and then get a coverage sack after 4 or 5 seconds, that would be scheme aided effort. If UB rushes three men and drop 9, but get a sack as a DE blows by a tackle, that is a scheme spiting effort.

I would expect an aggressive defense to shut down the opposing offense, (low yards gained), produce sacks and turnovers, but also occasionally get hit with a big play.

Bend but don't break, I'd expect less sacks but similar number of turnovers but a lower turnover per play average, more yardage gained, but low per play yardage gained.

While the Jimmy Williams defense was very bend but don't break

The 2010-11 Inge Defense was very aggressive, banking on possibly UB's best secondary of all time in 2010, and falling off in 2011 as that secondary graduated.

Since 2012, the Bulls have played a hybrid of aggressive defense and bend but don't break. The secondary has not thrived under this system, and there was a sharp increase in stats in 2012 but many of the gains were scheme spiting, not scheme aided.

In 2014, minus the largest X-factor in UB history, Khalil Mack, the Hybrid defense has totally failed. Allowing highs in points scored, passing yards allowed, yards per completion and lows in sacks and turnovers. This is the worst defensive start in UB's competitive FBS history. The only defense worse in my opinion was the 2003 UB Bulls.

The charts:

Total Yards Allowed - Quinn Era

UB has allowed more yards each season under Quinn, and has been killed via the Pass game.Yards Allowed Quinn Era

Total Yards Allowed - Since 2001

2013 had the 3rd most passing yards allowed through 6 games by a UB team since 2001, but 2014 eclipsed that amount, allowing almost 100 more passing yards, even with a sub-100 yard outing by Norfolk State AND a game against pass adverse Army. UB's total yards allowed have increased every year since 2009. 2014's 2,602 yards allowed through six games, is the second highest amount since 2001. Yards Allowed since 2001

Points Chart - Since 1999

This chart shows average points allowed for whole season (blue), average points allowed against FBS competition (yellow), Average points allowed in the first six games (green) and average points allowed in UB's first 4 games against FBS opponets. (Orange).

The important thing about this first graph is that UB is pretty much keeping opponents under 35 points, except for their first two years in the FBS (1999, 2000) and this year.

Points Scored since 2001

Points Chart - Since 2006

2007-2009 saw a downward trend in points allowed from about 28 per game to 24 per game.

Points Scored - Since 2006

Points Chart - Quinn Era

UB has steadily kept opponents between 28 and 35 points. Last year, there was an increase in points allowed in the first 4 FBS games, but that can be forgiven as 2 of those 4 games were at Ohio State and at Baylor. Overall, the average points allowed last year was second only to the 2009 season.

This year, teams are scoring at a rate of 35 points a game, and FBS teams are scoring 43 points per game.

Points Allowed Quinn era

Yards Per Chart - Since 2006

The good news, UB is relatively good against the run, allowing 4.3 yards per carry after a dip to 3.94 ypc last year. The bad news, UB is not good at anything else.

This is the worst team in yards per pass attempt, Yards per dropback (pass yards - sack yards / attempts + sacks) and the third worst in yards per play since 2001.

You don't need a chart for this, your eyes tell you why run? You can pass all over this team. But I made a chart anyway.

UB is giving up almost 6.5 yards per play. When the opponent drops back to pass, it results in almost 8.5 yards per dropback. When the opposing QB throws a pass, it has resulted in almost 9.5 yards per attempt. UB's defense has only forced 1 Interception. This is most likely the worst secondary in UB's FBS history.

Yards per - Quinn Era

Yards Per Completion Chart - Since 2001

This is the scariest chart.

UB always kept yards per completion under 14. During the Gill era, yards per completion fell each year down to about 10 yards per completion, indicative of a bend but don't break defense that allows small gains and hopes the opposing offense fails to put together long sustained drives.

Since Lou Tepper came to UB, yards per completion in the first six games of the season were never below 14. This year opponents averages 18.6 yards per catch.

Yards per completion - since 2001

Passing % Allowed - Since 2001

Another chart indicative of a bend but don't break philosophy. The higher the percentage, the more likely the strategy allows short-yardage high percentage throws. You see this in the first six games of 2008, UB allowed almost 70% pass completion, but completions only went for 10 yards on average. In 2008, UB allowed the most passing yards since 2001 in their first six games, but the bend but don't break philosophy was buttressed by aggressive turnover seeking.

In 2014, UB is only allowing 50% completion, but those completions are for a lot of yards, contributing to UB's second highest passing yards allowed. It seems UB is attempting to establish "shut down" corners, if shut down, it's great for UB, but they pay a high price if they do not shut down a wide receiver.

Passing % - Since 2001

Sacks, TFLs and Turnovers - Since 2006

This chart measures sacks as a percentage of dropbacks, negative plays and big defensive plays (BDPs) as a percentage of total plays.

Sacks have fallen back to 2011 levels and the BDPs have fallen, this looks to be the Mack effect.

BDP since 2006

Since 2006, UB has started the season with a good interception percentage in 2006, 2010 and 2013, and good turnover percentage in 2008, 2010, and 2013. With all the charts together you can start to build a defensive profile.

Ints and Turnovers

2006 Undersized, used aggressive blitz played tight on receivers. Result, was gashed in the run game. Bend don't break led to high completion rate for low yards per dropback. Intercepted 1 in 20 passes.

2008 Bend but don't break lead to very high passing yards allowed and high completion percentage, but only 6.5 yards per pass dropback. Dependent on mistakes from other team, has relatively high 3% turnover rate.

2009 Near perfect bend but don't break system, yards per dropback down to 5.6, but yards per rush up to 4.5 and only giving up 26 points per game. Lack of big defensive plays undercuts bend but don't break system.

2010 Yards per rush down to around 3.6, yards per dropback down to 5.4. Bend but don't break jettisoned for an aggressive shut down defense with a sharp decline to 48% passing allowed, an increase in yards per completion to 12, and a big increase in sacks, interceptions and tackles for loss.

2013 Yards allowed increased, yet points scored decreased, pointing to a return to bend but don't break. But the numbers show it was a continuation of an aggressive defense. Completion percentage was around 56%, and yards per completion was over 14. The defense was succesful because they sacked the QB once for ever 10 dropbacks, which lowered the opponents yards per dropback to 6.5 yards. UB also intercepted 5% of throws and forced a turnover on 3.5% of plays.

2014 Yards allowed increased again, despite only allowing 50% completions, almost 1600 passing yards have been allowed. UB is burned by 8.4 yards per drop back and over 18 yards per catch. With interceptions under 1% and turnovers under 2%, there is nothing stopping opponents from scoring at record levels.