Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Emerald Bowl: Defenses

Just as I had hoped, I get to start this article with BC basketball having just notched a win. The Eagles have restored a little order by beating a vastly inferior opponent and can now move on to UMass just before Christmas.  If there were more than 200 people at Conte, it was a good turnout ("good" being relative). (Note: attendance was 2757 -- do they count the vendors and security personnel?)

Now then, back to football and a look at the Boston College and Southern California defenses, and we'll start with the Trojans. We all know that this team, in years past, has been able to put points on the board, though at quick glance, they were excellent last year at keeping the other team off of it. In 10 of their 13 games in 2008, they allowed ten or fewer points.

This isn't 2008, however, and this USC defense has not played up to the same level as their Rose Bowl winner last year. That team allowed an eye-popping 9 points per game; this team allows 20.4. In terms of defensive yards per game, the Trojans are now ranked 43rd with just short of 343 ypg. Furthermore, they're tied for 71st in the nation with 10 interceptions this year. Senior safety Will Harris leads the team in that category with 4.  Their unit as a whole has been adequate -- not stifling, not terrible: adequate.

Now enter the Boston College Eagles, who showed that even without Mark Herzlich, they can play some D this year. It's pretty easy to fill that hole when you have guys like Luke Kuechly waiting in the wings. When you're a freshman and you have the second-most tackles in the country (142), you're probably going to be pretty special. The kid flies all over the field and I'm sure that Pete Carroll and his staff will have some planning to do if they're going to figure out how to get around him.

BC's defensive stats are better than the Trojans in a few main areas. The Eagles are 23rd in total defense, allowing about 25 fewer yards per game than USC. They have picked off the ball a few more times (13), and they allow slightly fewer points per game (19.4). One other interesting stat of note is that the Eagles defense allows red zone touchdowns only 39% of the time (14/36). The Trojans defense, on the other hand, allows them 55% of the time (24/44). That's not a major difference, but it is still worth noting that over half the time, when the other team gets in the red zone, the Trojans give up 6 points whereas BC does not.

I would say that based upon all the evidence I have in front of me, I would have to give the defensive edge to Boston College by a slight margin. BC looks like they've been better, but not by a whole lot.

Alright, so now we've done offense and defense. In the next day or so, I'll tie up the loose ends and pick this sum'bitch.

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