Advanced Stats: The Cincinnati Defense

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Cincinnati has a good offense that puts up big numbers. However, their defense also has a habit of giving up big numbers, and their defensive efficiency ratings show that this is about as good a matchup for the VT offense as we could reasonably hope for.

First, let’s look at the Bearcat defense through the FEI ratings. Here are the categories that we’ll use…

FD: First Down rate, the percentage of opponent offensive drives that result in at least one first down or touchdown.

AY: Available Yards, yards earned by the opponent offense divided by the total number of yards available based on starting field position.

Ex: Explosive Drives, the percentage of each opponent offense’s drives that average at least 10 yards per play.

Me: Methodical Drives, the percentage of each opponent offense’s drives that run 10 or more plays.

Va: Value Drives, the percentage of each opponent offense’s drives beginning on their own side of the field that reach at least the team’s 30-yard line.

DSOS: Defensive Strength of Schedule, the likelihood that an elite defense (two standard deviations better than average) would have an above-average DE rating against each of the offenses faced.

And now for the numbers.

FE: #88. The Bearcats rank #88 in the country in first down rate, meaning that opposing offenses rarely go three and out. At the very least, the Hokies should be able to pick up a first down or two on their drives, which should help the field position game.

AY: #89. Cincinnati’s defense is amongst the worst teams in the country in terms of available yards allowed.

Ex: #74. The Bearcats are not great at giving up big plays, but they aren’t terrible either. This ranking is somewhat irrelevant, as the VT offense isn’t built for the big play anyway.

Me: #58. Cincinnati is mediocre when it comes to methodical drives. It is certainly possible to drive the length of the field on this defense.

Va: #76. Opposing teams advance the ball inside the Cincinnati 30 at a fairly high rate. The Hokies should find themselves in the scoring zone a decent amount in this game, and they need to find a way to turn it into points.

DSOS: #70. Cincinnati didn’t exactly face the strongest offenses in college football this year, yet they still weren’t