As you’ve likely noticed, Georgia Tech isn’t the only team giving up more yardage than in previous seasons, though the Yellow Jackets have been a little more aggressive about it than most teams.
I looked up total offense numbers for teams ranked 1st, 30th, 60th and 90th for the past few seasons. The increase is considerable. (This season’s numbers, obviously, are partial.) (Sorry the columns are kind of funky. I know how some of you like neatly aligned columns.)
2012 2011 2010 2009 2006
1. 659 599 531 563 559
30. 463 432 423 417 376
60. 410 387 381 384 345
90. 366 348 334 334 312
There’s a lot of factors, obviously. But two stick out. The spread has taken over the game, which has made offenses more dynamic and efficient in getting ball-carriers in space. This is related, I think, to tackling being poor. Defensive players are going to miss more tackles one-on-one in the open field than they would inside the tackle box.
Second, more teams are playing more quickly. The following is the number of times offenses have run 90 plays or more in a game. Bear in mind the 2012 season is around the halfway point. The other years are complete-season numbers.
2012 – 46
2011 – 58
2010 – 45
2009 – 26
2008 – 20
Clemson ran a season-high 93 against the Yellow Jackets Saturday, the product of the Tigers’ high tempo and Tech’s inability to stop Clemson on third down. Tech is giving up 431 yards per game this season, which, if it holds, will be 71 yards more than last season and the highest average in school history. Miami ran 84 in its win over the Jackets.
I’m going to guess this defense will also end up having been on the field for the most plays in school history. (The Tech media guide, as comprehensive as it is, does not keep track of that statistic.) The total defense record, if you want to call it that, is held by the 1997 team at 420 yards. That was George O’Leary’s third team, which went 7-5.
Mind you, all this is not to say that Tech’s defensive problems are all the result of more plays and spread offenses. Just found it interesting.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog