During the April Spring Practice Media Day I attended a Pat Narduzzi press conference and asked him a pretty simple question: “What do you see the difference is between defending against Big 10 offenses and now that you are at Pitt, defending against ACC offense?”
The answer was, not so surprisingly, a minimal and rather snarky response where he said (to paraphrase) ‘There are no differences in college football offenses, we’ll line up and play them as they come.‘ which was an eyebrow raiser for me and for the other media types in the press room.
Why? Because everyone and their brother knows that the Big Ten offenses rely on the run first and foremost and the ACC is almost the exact opposite.
Let me steal a couple of charts from that article linked above. It was written in 2015 but my follow-up research shows its messages haven’t changed much at all. This is a preface to the charts –
“S&P+ strips out garbage time possessions, so efficient offenses that run the ball a lot are not necessarily more efficient just because their teams win more blowouts.
Each conference seems to form its own identity. Do you see any trends beyond the conference level?”
OK? Good. Here goes…
Here you see that the Big Ten is more efficient when on the run heavy side… in essence the teams in the Big Ten run more than in the ACC. That’s pretty much a no-brainer.
Now here is that same chart broken down into individual conference teams. This one is the ACC:
Actually that isn’t surprising at all. Gee, six of those pass reliant ACC teams we play this year…go figure. But hey, let’s sell out to stop the run at all costs. Uhhh, look how very efficient Miami, Clemson and NC were in the past.
And here we have the same breakdown with the Big Ten teams that Narduzzi was facing in his last year as DC at MSU.
Again – not surprising. In the 2015 season the Big Ten had two teams in the Top 50 for passing offense while the ACC had five; in the rushing offense’s Top 50 the Big Ten had five teams.
Last season the Big Ten had six teams in the Top 50 rushing and only two in the passing offense list.
All this points to things we already know about the two conferences, the Big Ten is and has been for years run heavy and light on passing and the ACC puts out a different, more balanced offense with a lot more reliance on passing.
I’d seen these charts earlier and after watching this Narduzzi put out these rather poor defensive results last season…:
|2015 Total Defense||37th||363.2 ypg|
|Rushing Defense||40th||148.5 ypg|
|Passing Yards Allowed||54th||214.7|
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||66th||126.97|
… I felt it was valid and was the basis for my question to Narduzzi this last spring. Compare the above defensive numbers to today’s:
|2016 Total Defense||70th (-43)||415.5 (-52 ypg from 2015)|
|Rushing Defense||6th (+34)||103.3 (+45 ypg)|
|Passing Yards Allowed||125th (-71)||312.3 (-98 ypg)|
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||114th (-48)||145.34 (- 18.4 points)|
|Scoring Defense||99th (-42)||32.4 (-6.3 ppg)|
It becomes an even more important question given the big drop in defensive results this season with basically the same defensive team intact.
One last thing I’d like to address to a commenter on here. It keeps being repeated that HCPN doesn’t “throw his players under the bus” and he might not do so by singling them out by name… but when we keep reading this type of comment in his press conferences you have to wince just a little every time you hear it: