Two weeks ago, I combed through a lot of numbers to see just how Kansas stacked up against the rest of the country at the halfway point of the season. With this team it feels like the eye test tells us what we need to know, but it helps to have data to support what you've seen. Through six games, the data basically told us what we already knew: the defense was some shade of mediocre, while the offense had been abysmal. As I said at the time, I was hesitant to run through the numbers right before playing the statistical juggernaut that is the Baylor Bears. Now, having faced the two teams tied atop the conference in back-to-back weeks, I wanted to revisit the same stats I went over then, with my assumption being that the defense now looks worse, and the offense is about the same (since it really couldn't get any worse).
First, a table of our basic defensive profile, and our national ranking:
Not surprisingly, these numbers have slipped. After Baylor and Texas, we're giving up an extra 44 yards per game, and .54 yards per play. Anyone's averages in these areas will go up after playing Baylor, so that doesn't bother or surprise me much, but it does have a depressing effect on our rankings, which previously made us look like a pretty serviceable defense. Our yards/game average fell 28 spots to #100, which yards/play dipped all the way from 38th to 86th. The argument that "hey, at least our defense is ok" has lost traction and will likely get worse after playing in Stillwater this week, but should get some rebound after playing West Virginia and Iowa State in the two following weeks.
If you're looking for silver linings, I would still point to our pass defense numbers, which have retained respectability even through our game against The Machine (which I will officially start using as Baylor's nickname if they are able to roll Oklahoma this Thursday). Our defense is still better than average in yards per pass attempt allowed and opposing QB rating. I should note however, that these still rank just 7th and 8th in the Big 12, so you have to consider the likelihood that Big 12 passing offenses overall just aren't producing very well in these areas in conference play.
Next, a look at the offensive profile:
Everything stays just about the same here. By "the same," I mean "abysmal." Last, I'll look at our national rankings in the FEI and S&P+ measures. As Warden explained better than I did while previewing the Baylor game, the FEI measures success based on drive efficiency, while the S&P analyzes performance broken down by plays and play types.
The main thing that stuck out to me is that the gap between the FEI and S&P appraisals of our defense has narrowed significantly. At the halfway point, the FEI ranked us 37, with S&P had us down at 85th. However, the mean between the two didn't change much, and I think that's the most telling piece of information here. 63rd place is the exact middle of FBS (125 teams), and I think we're somewhere near there, probably just slightly better. Still, given where the offense ranks, I'll take "average defense" as a huge compliment for our team right now.
I also mentioned in the last post that I couldn't find any category in which we ranked dead last. Well, that's changed, and we are now 125th in two categories. The first is called First Down Rate, which is the percentage of drives resulting in at least one first down (or touchdown). The second is Available Yards, which measures how many yards a team has gained out of the yards you could potentially have gained. So if you get the ball at your own 20, there are 80 available yards. If you pick up 8 and punt, your AY rate is .100 (or 10%). By these two measures, we are literally the most inept offense in all of major college football. This is why my support for Charlie Weis has declined so drastically over the course of the season. We have an offensive specialist as a head coach, and yet our offense is arguably the worst in the country. That's a problem.
Anyway, there you have it. Eight games in, these numbers are unlikely to change drastically. The numbers confirm what we've all been thinking: this is a bad football team with a serviceable defense and pathetic offense.