Statistical Review: Defense

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The Tech defense just suffered through its worst season in recent memory. Expected to be dominant in 2015, the defense struggled through a very tough year. Injuries to key defensive backs, poor linebacker play, and the statistical regression of key defensive linemen were the root of the problems.

Virginia Tech finished #37 in S&P+ defense this season. Here’s how that stacks up with past years…

2015: #37
2014: #10
2013: #3
2012: #19
2011: #17
2010: #23
2009: #7
2008: #23
2007: #6
2006: #6
2005: #6

Unsurprisingly, the 2015 ranking was Tech’s worst since the S&P+ ratings began. Most likely you have to go all the way back to 2003 to find a Tech defense that was worse than the 2015 group from an efficiency standpoint.

Why was the ranking so low this year? If you dig deeper into the numbers, you’ll see that the Hokies were pretty mediocre across the board.

Rushing S&P+: #41
Passing S&P+: #48
Explosive Plays: #114
Success Rate: #16
Field Position: #65
Finishing Drives: #55

It wasn’t easy to drive the length of the field on the Hokies, but for the second year in a row Bud Foster’s defense was terrible at stopping big plays. Take a look at the following big play numbers that were allowed by Tech.

Plays of 10+ yards: 184, #77
Plays of 20+ yards: 71, #102
Plays of 30+ yards: 26, #54
Plays of 40+ yards: 16, #80
Plays of 50+ yards: 7, #59

Ouch. Were there reasons? Sure. Some of it was out of the coaches’ control. They couldn’t help that Kendall Fuller got hurt. They couldn’t prevent the university from booting CJ Reavis out of school. Torrian Gray and Bud Foster had to play a ton of freshmen in the secondary, and their roles