Yesterday we looked at the Hokies' offensive efficiency stats and saw a very balanced team. Today, we'll see something very different when we look at the defensive numbers.
Once again, these are based on how many yards the Hokies gave up compared to how many they were expected to give up based on the number of plays the opposing team ran in the game. It's a watered-down version of what you'll see at Football Outsiders from Brian Fremeau and Bill Connolly. For a comparison, take a look at the 2009 and 2008 stats.
We'll start with some fairly ugly rushing numbers. Raw data is from cfbstats.com. Remember, unlike the offensive numbers, the lower the number the better when it comes to defensive efficiency.
Abbreviations: YPC - yards per carry (rounded); Rush - opponent carries minus sacks; ExYds - expected yards for the opponent (rounded); Yards - opponent yards with sacks taken out; Eff - VT efficiency.
2009 Rushing Efficiency: 0.992
2008 Rushing Efficiency: 1.058
Next are the passing numbers, which looked a lot better.
Abbreviations: YPA - opponent's yards per attempt (rounded); Pass - opponents pass attempts; ExYds - expected yards for the opponent (rounded); Yards - opponent yards; Eff - VT efficiency.
2009 Passing Efficiency: 0.867
2008 Passing Efficiency: 1.138
Put them together (and add the sacks back in) and we have total defensive efficiency and scoring efficiency.
Abbreviations: YPP - opponent yards per play (rounded); Plays - opponent plays; ExYds - expected yards for the opponents (rounded); Yards - opponent yards; Eff - VT efficiency. PPP - opponent points per play adjusted for non-offensive points (rounded); Plays - opponent plays; ExPts - expected points for the opponent (rounded); Points - opponent points minus non-offensive points; Eff - VT efficiency.
2009 Defensive Efficiency: 0.859
2008 Defensive Efficiency: 0.963
2009 Scoring Efficiency: 0.711
2008 Scoring Efficiency: 0.902
What jumps out at me is how good the Hokies were in scoring efficiency despite giving up more yards than they were supposed to. There are two good explanations for this. First, the Hokies had 25 takeaways in 2010, which led the ACC. They also led the conference in red zone scoring percentage, allowing ACC foes to score on just over 69 percent of their red zone chances.
Basically, the Hokies did a lot of bending in 2010 and had their only terrible scoring efficiency game against Wake Forest. If they had allowed nearly twice their expected points against any other team (except Duke), they probably would have lost a conference game. But since the Deacs' defense was so sieve-y this year, it didn't matter.
The rushing defense struggled until the final two conference games and the passing defense was great until the final two conference games, when they were without Rashad Carmichael for the entire UVa game and the first half of the FSU game.
Tech's struggles against the run have been well documented by every beat writer and even myself throughout the year. The Hokies were extremely undersized in the front seven at the beginning of the season and even more so when they started playing a lot of nickel. That looks to change next year when with the departure of John Graves at defensive tackle. We'll get Kwamaine Battle back from his ACL injury and hopefully add 300-pound Nick Acree to the mix.
Replacing Graves' leadership and work ethic will be next to impossible, but getting bigger up front can only help the Hokies in the long run. I expect the rushing numbers to get back below 1 next year. I also expect the passing numbers to go up with the loss of Rashad Carmichael and Davon Morgan. We have good young players in Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum and they'll have more experience than the typical sophomore next year. But losing Rock will still be tough.