Trends, numbers, traits and habits – they all matter in life and we all have them; like when we brush our teeth, get out of bed, our routes to work or home. We all have tendency and traits and so do sports teams and college football teams.
We know all about recruiting traits and why that matters, why offensive and defensive scoring efficiency matters and today we want to introduce you to DTP (defensive tire pressure). Now before you roll your eyes, continue reading because this is a real thing. First on why we equate this stat or trend to tire pressure is because defenses, like your car tires have pressure, and sometimes like your car tires, your defense can take the pressure and sometimes they cannot. If your car tire blows out, sometimes you can continue to cruise forward until you can pull over to change it and sometimes it causes serious havoc to you and your vehicle.
College football defenses are no different as every defense develops an identity and a trend throughout a season and we call that trend DTP, which is yards allowed per ball game on defense as an average, and that average creates a perfect circle – like a tire. We found that most all teams have this DTP number set by mid season and rarely do they vary from it by years end.
Below we look at the SEC West and see how each team did in 2017 verses DTP and look at how it may have affected their final win/loss record.
Alabama gave up 260 yards per ball game, on their way to another National Title in 2017, but found themselves in six ball games where they gave up more than their average on defense OR their DTP burst.
You can see from the graph above, Alabama gave up more yards in week three verses Colorado State than normal, but wasn’t phased; conversily in week six versus Texas A&M, Alabama struggled to a 27-19 win at College Station. In weeks nine and 10, versus LSU and Mississippi State, the Tide gave up back to back ball games of negative DTP and if you remember, LSU had a chance as did Mississippi State to beat Alabama. Auburn had no problem beating Alabama in week 12 and shredded their DTP and it almost cost the Tide in the National Championship Game.
What we see with teams like Alabama, is talent again matters. Alabama had more talent than almost anyone they played and was able to overcome six DTP busts.
Auburn ripped off another double digit win season, won the SEC West and was just a hiccup from playing in the College Football Playoff, but they had eight ball games where their DTP bust wide open. The Tigers finished 5-3 in those games and much like Alabama, they have the talent to overcome a bad day defensively.
We saw Auburn struggle in weeks 4-7 and it cost the Tigers on the road at LSU on October 21st as they lost 27-23. Auburn got it back together defensively until weeks 13 and 14, which cost them losses in the SEC Championship against Georgia and Central Florida in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
While their defense wasn’t great, Arkansas actually played very consistent in 2017, only having five DTP bursts, but two of them could have cost Bret Bielema his job. Week three saw the Hogs have a DTP bust to Texas A&M and they lost 50-43 in overtime. Week 12 saw the biggest bust of the year to Missouri and Arkansas lost 48-35. You have to wonder, if the Hogs had won those two games and finished 6-6, would Bielema be back in 2018? DTP busts was a major contributor in ushering in a coaching change in Fayetteville.
We know how important Dave Aranda is to the LSU program as the Tigers gave up only 316 yards per contest in 2017. But – there were six instances their DTP burst and the Tigers went a very average 3-3 in those games. The Tigers really went south in weeks 3-5 and went 1-2 in that stretch, losing to Mississippi State and Troy and letting Syracuse hang around in week four, before getting a 35-26 win.
The Tigers played great defense the rest of the year, before letting Notre Dame burst their DTP in the Citrus Bowl and they lost 21-17. If the Tigers would have played within their DTP in their bowl game and in either week 3 or 5, we would be talking about an 11-2 LSU team and the perception of Ed Orgeron would be much different as we eye 2018.
Mississippi State’s defense was much improved in 2017 under Todd Grantham, giving up only 306 yards per game and the production returning on this unit is a big reason many feel this could be a banner year for the Bulldogs.
However, in terms of DTP, the Bulldogs played six ball games where they had DTP issues and they went a paltry 2-4 in those games. Weeks four and five saw the Bulldogs get shredded by Georgia and Auburn, but both games were on the road and both teams are more talented teams. Weeks 9-10 saw the Bulldogs again see their DTP burst, and they went 1-1 in those two weeks. a win against Massachusetts, but a scare to some degree; then the heart breaker against Alabama and one could even argue that last Alabama drive is what bust their DTP in that contest.
The Bulldogs again went 1-1 in weeks 12 and 13 as they couldn’t stop Ole Miss and lost, but was able to overcome Louisville in their bowl game.
Ole Miss played within the realm of their talent on defense for most of 2017 and while they weren’t great, they were mostly consistent. The Rebs gave up 460 yards per ball game, but only had three ball games where their DTP was destroyed, and they went 0-3 in those ball games.
We saw Auburn and Alabama have their way with the Ole Miss defense and most all of that can be attributed to a severe talent deficiency between those clubs. But, we also Ole Miss lose a 38-37 game to Arkansas where both teams threw defense out the door and decided to have a shoot out.
Despite having veteran defensive coordinator John Chavis on staff, the Aggies never could become an elite defense in the SEC under Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies finished 7-6 in 2017, but finished 1-4 in ball games where their DTP was shredded. They just could not overcome ball games where they couldn’t figure it out defensively. In week one, they had a monumental lead on UCLA, but we all saw that crash and burn moment. In week four they barely escaped Arkansas in overtime; while in week nine, they let Auburn just do what they wanted to offensively.
Weeks 12 and 13 saw the Aggies lose again to LSU and then give up another lead against Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl, on their way to a 55-52 loss. You have to wonder if Sumlin would still be in College Station, had the Aggies just held their leads in the first and last weeks of the season?
After evaluating the half way points of each team and comparing it to the end totals, what we saw was a very small change outside of Arkansas. Most teams kept the same DTP profile the entire season, which will be a trend we look to moving forward in 2018.
|Yearly||Half Way Point|
Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss had almost no change; while Auburn, Mississippi State and Texas A&M had what amounts to giving up about two more explosive plays over the second half of the year. Arkansas is the only team that saw a drastic decrease in their production.
Coming next we look at OTP – offensive tire pressure.