What’s the opposite of a Quick Strike team that piles up points in the blink of an eye? A defense-first club that forces its opponents to slowly grind out points over a large number of plays. Thus… our Slow Grind measure.
Over the past five years we’ve found that a very efficient way of predicting a team’s success is to look at the number of plays said team forces its foes to run in order to score touchdowns. This is not the exact opposite of our Quick Strike number (basically: points per offensive snap), but a totally different measurement (defensive snaps run for every defensive touchdown allowed).
Simply: How many plays must an offense run — on average — to score a touchdown against a specific defense?
We do not count special teams scores or interception/fumble returns in this equation. This is strictly a look at touchdowns — not total points — allowed by a team as compared to how many snaps a defensive unit was on the field. Still, however, special teams and offensive production do factor in overall. A good special teams unit will pin an opponent deep in its own end, forcing it to string together multiple plays to score (and with each additional snap run, there’s a greater chance for a turnover). Steady, grind-it-out offenses can also eat up clock and limit a foe’s time of possession.
Happily, the folks at ElevenWarriors.com studied our numbers and found them to be quite accurate at predicting Big Ten success just as we’ve found them to correlate nicely with SEC wins. The more we see them applied elsewhere — and the more they work — the better we feel.
With the season now complete, we use numbers from SEC games only to arrive at our rankings.
Without further ado, our Slow Grind measure:
|| TDs Allowed Vs SEC
|| Defensive Plays
|| Plays/TDs Allowed
| Florida 7-1
| Alabama 7-1
| Georgia 7-1
| Texas A&M 6-2
| Vanderbilt 5-3
| LSU 6-2
| S. Carolina 6-2
| Ole Miss 3-5
| Miss. State 4-4
| Missouri 2-6
| Arkansas 2-6
| Kentucky 0-8
| Auburn 0-8
| Tennessee 1-7
* How’s that for a pretty clear correlation? There are really only a couple of teams slightly out of alignment. Vanderbilt might be a win higher than expected (the five SEC teams they beat combined for six SEC wins), Ole Miss (who lost head-to-head to Vanderbilt or both would be 4-4… which would be more in line with their defensive performances), and Tennessee (whose one win came thanks to its offense against winless-in-the-SEC Kentucky).
* As far as tomorrow’s SEC Championship Game is concerned, Alabama holds a distinctive advantage over Georgia in this category. It takes Bama’s opponents — on average — 16 more offense snaps to score a touchdown than it takes Georgia’s foes. However, since safety Shawn Williams’ rant about his team’s “soft” defense, the Bulldogs have allowed just one touchdown over its last three SEC games (Florida none, Ole Miss one, Auburn none). Over it’s final three SEC contests, UGA has allowed fewer TDs than Alabama has. Of course, the Tide faced LSU, Texas A&M (and Johnny Manziel), and Auburn in its final three league games. If the Georgia defense we’ve seen in SEC play since October 27th shows up in Atlanta, this could be a battle for the ages. But if the Dawgs revert to the style of defense they played earlier in the season, give Alabama the edge in this area.