Former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes once said "There are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them ain't good." Given how his career in Columbus ended -- refusing to resign after punching a Clemson player who intercepted a pass at the 1978 Gator Bowl -- we can probably amend that quote to say four and three things, respectively. Where am I going with this? To another BKtU entry that would equally infuriate Hayes: rushing defenses.
Specifically, two very good rushing defenses, a few that were slightly above average, and a whole bunch that the pistol offense would gleefully tear apart for a free "How Not to Defend the Run" coaching clinic. I looked at the average rushing yards allowed per game, total rushing yards allowed, average yards per carry allowed, number of rushing touchdowns allowed, tackles for loss and the number of rushing plays of ten or more yards they allowed. Throw in the usual composite ranking of the six categories and the number of returning starters on the line and in the linebacking corps and you'll have a general idea of who we can expect to challenge the pistol's new personnel in 2011. For the sake of transparency, I'll include the composite rankings I came up with and the aforementioned number of starters they return.
#12 UNLV 116th and 2 ~ "Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked." Moving on...
#11 New Mexico 116th and 5 ~ Nearly indistinguishable from the damn dirty Rebels, but with the benefit of much more in the way of returning experience. Huzzah.....?
#10 New Mexico State 111th and 5 ~ Here's where we're more accustomed to seeing the Fightin' Mummes. Will five starters back really make a difference on what was already a poor run defense? History says "no."
#9 Utah State 99th and 5 ~ Any hope the Aggies have of finally breaking through has to start with actually stopping something on the ground for a change. I suggest trying an armadillo first and then working your way up from there.
#8 San Jose State 102nd and 7 ~ Here's where you'll hopefully pick up on a trend in these entries: when faced with two statistically similar teams, I generally side with the one who has more coming back from the previous year.
#7 Idaho 82nd and 5 ~ Something I noticed about the stats in this entry is how little variation there generally was across the various categories. If a team was ranked in the 80s in one particular area, they were most likely in that same neighborhood for all the other categories.
#6 Fresno State 73rd and 4 ~ Some big names depart, others return, and mediocrity generally rules the day.
#5 Louisiana Tech 68th and 4 ~ Like their shared mascot, pretty much the same story here.
#4 Texas Tech 61st and 4 ~ The new 4-2-5 scheme could provide the tools necessary for what was a pretty young front last year to pull themselves up a bit this year.
#3 Hawai'i 49th and 5 ~ The only run defense that posed serious enough problems for the Pack to lose against last year loses some big producers themselves, but returns others.
#2 Oregon 25th and 2 ~ Oregon's front seven was very effective against the run last year. But literally every player of note -- Brandon Bair, Kenny Rowe, Casey Matthews, Spencer Paysinger -- is gone. Their effectiveness could potentially end up closer to that of the Warriors' rushing defense than you might realize.
#1 Boise State 9th and 4 ~ If nothing else, the statistical supremacy of the Broncos in these entries thus far should illustrate just how special Pack Friday was, as well as the degree of shear difficulty of what the coaches and players did that night.
I'll be back on Tuesday, so pray that my Hope Solo crush doesn't blossom to restraining order status by then.