Bumped from the comments. This is from CalPolyBruinFan over at Bruin Roar. I could not have said it any better – WWW
I totally agree. Raw, cumulative numbers like “total offense”, “total defense”, “pass defense” can be very misleading. The efficiency numbers do a much better job of showing how well your team performs because it breaks the numbers down per play. There are some very good defenses out there that have poor passing defensive numbers because opponents start throwing the ball more when they fall behind in the game. Does that mean you have a bad defense? Of course not.
Take a look at Arizona State as an example. Their passing defense is similar to UCLA at 69th. But their overall defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense are all top 25. They rank near the top of the conference in total defense performance, but you wouldn’t realize that if you just looked at the pass defense number.
On the flip side of that is Notre Dame. They have the 3rd ranked pass defense in the country. Are you impressed by that? You shouldn’t. Nobody passed against them because they were so darn easy to run over! When you discover that they have a scoring defense of 96th in the nation, that tells a much better story then the total number of yards their defense gave up through the air.
Anywho, it is good to point out that statistics need to be taken in their entire context and not just cherry picked to prove some point. If you look at all of the statistics for UCLA’s defense this season you see a pretty darn good team. Not a great one, but a good one. And if the Bruins had even a hint of an offense you can bet those numbers would have been even better.
Do you know how many teams had a better scoring defense than UCLA (33rd) but had a worse scoring offense (90th)? Only two: Iowa and Vanderbilt. Neither one had a better record than the Bruin’s 6-6 mark this season. It is very hard to have a successful team with a very poor offense. Even if you look at total numbers it confirms that fact. Only a few teams like Auburn (total offense: 101, total defense: are able to pull off a wining record… but even they finished at a less than stellar 8-4 this year.