Rutgers Pass Defense Better Than Numbers Indicate
Added by Gregg Snyder on October 17, 2012.
WholeHogSports.com Staff Photo by Anthony Reyes
If you were to look up statistics for the Rutgers University football team, you would see the Scarlet Knights rank 87th in the country in passing defense. That would seem to be an ugly statistic, until you dig deeper.
Passing defense is determined solely by yardage given up through the air. However, that does not always give a true indication of a teams ability to defend an opponents passing attack. The two games that have bloated Rutgers pass defense numbers were their contest at Arkansas and at home against Syracuse this past weekend. The Arkansas game was a wild affair with plenty of big plays. Rutgers gave up 419 yards through the air to Arkansas and their All-American caliber quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Last week, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 356 yards. Let’s use this game as an example to show how that number is not as bad as it may seem on paper.
Rutgers held Syracuse to 194 passing yards through three quarters and was able to put the Orange in a 23-7 deficit. In order to try to get back in the game, Syracuse had to abandon their running game (which only managed 62 yards anyway) and go to the air. With a comfortable lead, Rutgers only rushed three defenders and played a little softer. They were not exactly playing at their highest level at that point and Syracuse was able to add chunks of yardage.
Also to consider, 40 of those yards came on a touchdown pass that safety Lorenzo Waters made a bad play on. Instead of laying a hit on the receiver, Waters went for the interception and whiffed, allowing the receiver to catch the pass and have a clear path to the end zone.
The stat that will give a much better indication of a teams ability to defend the pass is passing efficiency defense. This statistic which may not be familiar to the average fan, takes into consideration passing yards against, yards per attempt, attempts, completions, completion percentage, touchdowns given up and interceptions. It’s an overall view of a teams defense against the pass.
The Scarlet Knights rank 23rd in passing efficiency defense, an indication that the unit is doing it’s job well. In six games so far this season, Rutgers has only given up five passing touchdowns. The defense has 12 interceptions, the third highest in the country behind only TCU and Fresno State. They are one ahead of Alabama, USC, UCLA, and Washington State which all have 11 interceptions.
During the last two weeks, it seems like the Rutgers defense has been able to put more pressure on the quarterback. That does of course help the overall passing numbers of an opponent. Rutgers secondary has at times been susceptible to giving up the big play, but generally they are a tough group to consistently attack.
With the defense being as good as they are against the run (2nd nationally behind Alabama), teams are forced to throw more often. The secondary has done a very good job at bending but not breaking. Just remember, before bashing a unit, number do not always tell the entire story. It takes a deeper look.