Why Defense Is on the Decline in 2012 College Football Season
We have seen an offensive explosion throughout college football in 2012. Through the first half of the regular season, there are 57 teams that are averaging at least 30 points per game, while five teams are dropping more than 50 a contest.
The game of football wasn't always like this, as defense used to be what won championships. But now, everybody is so fascinated with the offensive side of the ball that they are doing what they can to light off as many fireworks as possible.
If you are an SEC fan, these high-scoring contests make you sick. If you are a casual college football fan, you probably enjoy games that end in scores such as 68-65.
Regardless, here are the three main reasons why it appears that defense is illegal in the sport of college football.
Great Players Leaving To Play Offense
While it seems hard enough as it is for a defense to get stops, some of the most explosive offensive players in the country were supposed to play on the defensive side of the ball.
Due to his incredible athleticism and change of direction, De'Anthony Thomas was actually listed to play in the secondary when he came out of high school, according to Scout.com. But once he got word that he would be able to play for the Oregon Ducks and become a Heisman-candidate playmaker, the Black Mamba turned down his other offers on the table and joined Chip Kelly.
With the offense's new love for speed, coaches see these speedsters that could become stars on defense and find ways to put them into their offensive systems. This is why many guys coming out of high school are considered "athletes" and don't really have a set position.
These guys can play either side of the ball, but if coaches have it their way, they will be playing on offense and doing their part in changing the scoreboard.
One of the ways to stop these offensive machines is to match up with superb athletes, but it's kind of hard when they are all leaving for the more glamorous positions.
Spread Them Out
While there simply isn't as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as there used to be, the offense takes advantage of it.
Coming out in the spread offense and putting five wide receivers on the field at one time, the defense is forced to spread out and cover the entire field. There simply aren't enough talented defensive backs on one team to cover all of these speedy wideouts, which creates mismatch problems.
Let's not even talk about a linebacker trying to keep up with a running back that runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.
And if that wasn't enough, coaches are now recruiting elite dual-threat quarterbacks that are not only capable of hurting opponents with their arm, but can burn teams for a 50-yard touchdown run downfield.
The spread offense was always a difficult offense to stop, but now coaches are getting top-notch players at every position, while the defensive coaches are limited with the overall talent they have to work with. There aren't many teams that have one shutdown cornerback that can play excellent press coverage, let alone two or three.
We are seeing an unfair advantage in college football, and the offense is winning.
On the Field Way Too Long
Before we get carried away and say these defenses just can't keep up, we aren't giving the units enough credit. As these offenses are scoring more points than we have ever seen, the defenses end up on the field a lot longer than teams would like.
Will defense ever catch up to these explosive offenses?
West Virginia, for example, averages 570 yards of offensive production a game this season, and the unit has run a total of 381 plays. And while Geno Smith gets all of the credit for shredding defenses, the West Virginia defense has actually been on the field for 398 plays and averages about two more minutes per game than the offense.
Baylor is even worse, as the offense has run 327 plays, but the defense has played 348 plays and is on the field about six minutes longer than the offense.
We saw in this in the NFL last season as well, when the Green Bay Packers defense was on the field for 1,049 plays, and the offense only ran 988, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
It is fun to watch high-scoring offenses, but these teams are scoring entirely too fast, making things difficult for the defense, as substitutions are limited and the guys are on the field too long. It is hard enough to stop these offensive schemes and talented athletes, but when a defense is on the field longer than the offense and can’t catch its breath, it becomes nearly impossible.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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