|Phil Steele Blog • January 26, 2016|
Def with the biggest Increase/ Decrease in Sack Total.
Yesterday I did the rushing defenses that made the biggest improvement in the country last year. That is one stat that my computer does a very solid job forecasting in advance. Today I am skipping ahead to defenses with the biggest increase/decrease in sack total.
This blog was originally going to just report the teams that had the biggest gain/drops in defensive sacks. What it has turned out to be is some extra home work for me AND a neat answer to a question I have been asked by numerous coaches.
I originally was just looking to find out what the biggest differences in sacks were from one year to the next. This past year the champ was Kent St which went from 9 sacks in 2014 all the way up to 32 in 2015. Interestingly the next team up was ALABAMA. Alabama went from 31 sacks in 2014 up to 53 last year for an increase of 22. Other big gainers were Pitt at +18 and Southern Miss at +18. It then hit me that these teams all had improved records with Southern Miss having a huge increase in their win total, going from 3-9 to 9-5. Now for many of my charts and articles for the magazine I have a simple paste of records which shows me which teams improved their records over the past year and which ones got weaker. It puts the teams with the positive improved record in a green box and the weaker records in a red box.
I decided to take this formula and paste it next to the sacks by column, which was in a different spreadsheet. The results made my eyes light up. Almost all the teams at the top of the sack increase chart had a GREEN BOX (i.e. an improved record last year). Then I looked at the bottom and almost all the teams at the bottom which had negative sack totals from the previous year, had RED boxes next to their totals, meaning they had a decrease in record as well.
I will give you the exact numbers now. Teams that increased their sack total by 8 or more (or roughly 2/3 of a sack per game) had a better record 21 times and had a weaker record just THREE times (Florida St, Kansas St, Old Dominion). Twice they had the same record. That means teams that had an increase in sacks of 8 or more had the same or better record almost 90% of the time!
Now lets take a look at the bottom of the chart. Lets take a look at the teams whose sack totals dropped by 7 or more from 2014. There were 32 teams that fit into this category with the teams with the biggest drops being Utah St and Rice at -23 sacks. Rutgers, UCF, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati all had drops of 20 or more in sacks and only Virginia Tech did not decrease their record as they won their last 4 to finish 7-6, an identical record to last year. Of the 32 teams in this category 5 teams had the same record as 2014. Only 5 teams managed to better their record in Washington, Louisiana Tech, UNLV, Stanford and Florida International. TWENTY THREE teams had their records drop with UCF the prize winner going from 9-4 to 0-12. That means 85% of the teams that had their sacks drop by 7 or more had a WEAKER or same record.
My homework is to uncover the best way to determine how a teams sacks will drop prior to the upcoming year and turn it into an article in the magazine. Also I need to go back and look at the last 5 to 10 years to make sure it is a strong trend over time.
In my conversations with the coaches every year, there is usually little time for small talk but a question I have heard numerous times is "Are there any key indicators that can keep improvement in a team." Keep in mind the Cleveland Browns just hired a baseball analytics guy as their General Manager. After I do the 5 to 10 years research I now have something that works 85 to 90% of the time.Here is the most improved sack totals for 2015 and the red and green colors in the DIFF column signify whether a team improved their record GREEN or the record got weaker RED or the record stayed the same WHITE.
|San Diego St||37||26||11||18|
|New Mexico St||15||5||10||19|
|San Jose St||17||12||5||38|
|N Carolina St||32||30||2||50|
|Middle Tenn St||23||25||-2||69|