Running or passing?
We wanted to know which statistics provided a more accurate gauge of overall success during the 2012 SEC football season. When talking about the SEC, defense is usually the first word out of the mouth of any coach, fan or pundit. Should it be?
In an effort to find out, we took six key (but simple) statistics from last season and compared them to the win/loss records of each of the 14 SEC schools. We used only stats from conference games (SEC versus SEC) and we’ve compared only last season’s conference records. Last year’s SEC title game was not included in our study.
In this piece, we’ll look at the defensive side of the ball. Below you will find last year’s SEC teams ranked according to their opponents’ yards-per-pass-attempt average:
2012 SEC Passing Defense / Opponents’ Yards-Per-Pass-Attempt
|School||Opp. Yds/Att||SEC Record|
* When it comes to predicting success in the SEC, this statistic is much more helpful than its offensive counterpart. Being able to throw the ball is important, but not as important as being able to prevent your opponent from successfully throwing the football.
* With the exception of 2-6 Missouri, every other team in the SEC that held its opponents to 7.4 yards-per-pass-attempt or less won five or more league games. The top eight teams in this category were a combined 46-18 in the SEC last season.
* The bottom six SEC squads in this particular pass defense measure were a combined 10-38 in league play. Of those six schools — Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas — only MSU managed to finish at .500.
* The quick takeaway: If you want to win an SEC football game, passing the ball isn’t as important as stopping the other team from passing the ball.