BCS Championship Game 2011: A Preliminary Look at Auburn and Oregon On Defense

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BCS Championship Game 2011: A Preliminary Look at Auburn and Oregon On Defense
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During the course of this week, there is more and more information coming out about Auburn and Oregon.

By now, everyone knows that these two teams are fairly potent on the offensive side of the ball; some have tried to convince fans that the same is true on the defensive side of the ball.

Every team has a weakness and for this year’s BCS Championship Game the weakness for both teams is largely on defense.

It is time to take a look at both defenses, what these defensive weaknesses are and what they might mean.

Rushing Defense Statistical Comparison

Statistic

Auburn 

Oregon 

Rushing Defense Rank Nationally

10

16

Rushing Plays Defended

416

424

Rushing Yards Allowed

1452 yards

1411 yards

Rushing Touchdowns Allowed

16

12

Rushing Touchdowns Allowed Per Game

1.23

1

Yards Allowed Per Rushing Play

3.49 yards

3.33 yards

While these defensive statistics look fairly impressive for both teams on the surface, it always helps to take a look at what teams these statistics were accumulated on.

Oregon’s average opponent ranked 65th in rushing production and Auburn’s average opponent ranked 54th.

This is not a huge difference in a sampling of 120 teams, but it is significant.

The worst performances by Oregon were against Tennessee, Arizona State and Stanford, where the teams simply ran the ball up the middle. Tauren Poole of Tennessee had 162 yards, Deantre Lewis of Arizona State had 127 yards and Stephan Taylor of Stanford had 113 yards in these games.

Oregon only allowed four touchdowns in these games, despite allowing so many yards; Oregon allowed 8.28 yards per carry in these games.

Auburn has a very effective inside rushing attack led by Michael Dyer. Fans can expect Auburn to attempt to duplicate the performances of Stanford, Arizona State and Tennessee in this game.

The worst performances by Auburn were against Clemson and Mississippi, where the two teams attacked the perimeter with very fast athletes. Andre Ellington for Clemson had 140 yards and Jeff Scott of Mississippi had 134 yards.

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

In both cases over 100 of the yards gained were when rushing outside. Ellington averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored a touchdown for Clemson and Scott averaged 14.9 yards per carry and scored a touchdown for Mississippi. Auburn allowed 5.7 yards per carry in these games.

Some will allude to the point that the best performances by these rushing defenses might be due to something other than skillful play. One ongoing theory is that often a great performance against the rush can be a side effect of a poor performance against the pass.

Oregon had one excellent performance against the rush when facing a good team. They also had exceptional performances against New Mexico (one of the worst teams in FBS Football), Washington State (The worst team in the Pac 10) and Portland State (an FCS team).

Their other lone exceptional performance was against Arizona, where they gave up 448 passing yards.

While this might seem to confirm the theory, closer inspection is needed. Arizona ran the ball 27 times in that game and gained 58 yards on the ground. This is an average of 2.15 yards per carry. It is more likely that Arizona passed the ball due to a lack of ability to move it on the ground.

Auburn’s best performances came in games with South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. South Carolina had 305 yards passing in that first game and averaged 2.4 yards per carry rushing the ball; Georgia had 274 yards passing and averaged 3.38 yards per carry rushing the ball; Alabama had 377 yards passing and averaged 2.3 yards per carry rushing the ball.

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It is unlikely any of these teams abandoned the rush simply due to poor pass defense.

Conclusion

Both teams have strong rushing defenses that are weakest where their upcoming opponent is best equipped to exploit it.

Oregon should have some success rushing the ball on the perimeter and Auburn should have some success with the inside running game.

Pass Defense Statistical Comparison

Statistic

Auburn 

Oregon 

Pass Defense Rank Nationally

106

51

Pass Plays Defended

474

454

Passing Yards Allowed

3256 yards

2568 yards

Passing Touchdowns Allowed

23

13

Passing Touchdowns Allowed Per Game

1.77

1.08

Yards Allowed Per Pass Play

6.87 yards

5.66 yards

Yards Allowed Per Completion

10.96 yards

10.57 yards

Completion Percentage Allowed

63 percent

54 percent

Pass Plays Per Touchdown Allowed

20.61

34.92

On the surface, these two pass defenses look pretty pathetic; in fact, Auburn looks downright awful.

The average opponent Oregon faced was ranked 58th in pass production and 65th in pass efficiency. Oregon faced one opponent ranked in the top 10 in pass efficiency and one opponent ranked in the top 25.  

Oregon had no games where they held a good passing offense under 200 yards of production.

Oregon allowed 300 passing yards or more to three teams. Their average pass efficiency ranking was 32. It would seem Oregon did exactly as expected on pass defense: They gave up large chunks of yardage to good passing offenses and made other teams earn their yardage according to their abilities.

The average opponent Auburn faced was ranked 48th in pass production and 44th in pass efficiency. They faced two opponents ranked in the top 10 in pass efficiency and five opponents in the top 25 in pass efficiency.

Auburn had one game where they held a good passing offense under 200 yards of production.

Auburn allowed four teams to gain more than 300 yards of passing offense in a game. Their average pass efficiency rank was 22. Auburn did exactly as most would expect on the season: They were gashed for large chunks of yards by good passing offenses and held others in proportion to their abilities with one exception.

In Auburn’s last outing, they were able to hold a top 25 pass efficiency offense to under 200 yards of production.

Conclusion

These are two serviceable pass defenses, but neither is spectacular. Neither Auburn nor Oregon runs a defensive scheme that is focused on stopping the passing attack.

In short: They are content with making opponents earn their passing yards according to their abilities.

Both teams have been very vulnerable to receivers that were tall and physical. With Auburn being ranked first in the nation in pass efficiency and having no shortage of tall and physical receivers, this could be a big factor in this game.

Oregon is ranked 16th in passing efficiency and they can be expected to have success with their perimeter passing attack. Their receivers are not especially tall or physical, but they are effective in this type of scheme.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oregon will likely have average success with their passing attack.

Below, fans can find the statistical comparisons for the opponents faced by both teams this season.  

Rushing Statics for Opponents Faced:

Auburn Opponent Rushing Statistics

Oregon Opponent Rushing Statistics

Arkansas State Ranked 69 Nationally

Gained 43 Yards on Auburn

New Mexico Ranked 106 Nationally

Gained 82 Yards on Oregon

Mississippi State Ranked 16 Nationally

Gained 117 Yards on Auburn

Tennessee Ranked 105 Nationally

Gained 182 Yards Rushing on Oregon

Clemson Ranked 79 Nationally

Gained 187 Yards on Auburn

Portland State Ranked 18 FCS

Gained 74 Yards on Oregon

South Carolina Ranked 60 Nationally

Gained 79 Yards on Auburn

Arizona State Ranked 78 Nationally

Gained 210 Yards on Oregon

Louisiana Monroe Ranked 96 Nationally

Gained 38 Yards on Auburn

Stanford Ranked 17 Nationally

Gained 177 Yards on Oregon

Kentucky Ranked 47 Nationally

Gained 110 Yards on Auburn

Washington State Ranked 117 Nationally

Gained 91 Yards on Oregon

Arkansas Ranked 65 Nationally

Gained 138 Yards on Auburn

UCLA Ranked 32 Nationally

Gained 131 Yards on Oregon

LSU Ranked 31 Nationally

Gained 115 Yards on Auburn

Southern California Ranked 25 Nationally

Gained 113 Yards on Oregon

Mississippi Ranked 19 Nationally

Gained 218 Yards on Auburn

Washington Ranked 38 Nationally

Gained 136 Yards on Oregon

Chattanooga Ranked 52 FCS

Gained 101 Yards on Auburn

California Ranked 52 Nationally

Gained 124 Yards on Oregon

Georgia Ranked 73 Nationally

Gained 81 Yards on Auburn

Arizona Ranked 89 Nationally

Gained 58 Yards on Oregon

Alabama Ranked 29 Nationally

Gained 69 Yards on Auburn

Oregon State Ranked 97 Nationally

Gained 90 Yards on Oregon

South Carolina Ranked 60 Nationally

Gained 156 Yards on Auburn

 

Average Opponent Rank Rushing Auburn

54

Average Opponent Rank Rushing Oregon

65

Games where more than 150 rushing yards were allowed for Auburn.

Clemson

Mississippi

Games where more than 150 rushing yards were allowed Oregon.

Tennessee

Arizona State

Stanford

Games where opponents were held under 100 yards rushing Auburn.

Arkansas State

South Carolina

Louisiana Monroe

Georgia

Alabama

Games where opponents were held under 100 yards Oregon.

New Mexico

Portland State

Washington State

Arizona

Opponents Faced Pass Defense Ranking

Auburn Passing Opponents

Oregon Passing Opponents

Arkansas State Ranked 31 Nationally

Gained 323 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 57 in Pass Efficiency

New Mexico Ranked 106 Nationally

Gained 82 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 116 in Pass Efficiency

Mississippi State Ranked 86 Nationally

Gained 129 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 37 in Pass Efficiency

Tennessee Ranked 30 Nationally

Gained 151 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 41 in Pass Efficiency

Clemson Ranked 78 Nationally

Gained 220 yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 99 in Pass Efficiency

Portland State Ranked 62 FCS

Gained 66 Yards on Oregon

 

South Carolina Ranked 43 Nationally

Gained 305 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 21 in Pass Efficiency

Arizona State Ranked 15 Nationally

Gained 387 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 56 in Pass Efficiency

Louisiana Monroe Ranked 56 Nationally

Gained 232 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 69 in Pass Efficiency

Stanford Ranked 29 Nationally

Gained 341 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 7 in Pass Efficiency

Kentucky Ranked 22 Nationally

Gained 226 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 22 in Pass Efficiency

Washington State Ranked 41 Nationally

Gained 245 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 53 in Pass Efficiency

Arkansas Ranked 4 Nationally

Gained 428 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 4 in Pass Efficiency

UCLA Ranked 116 Nationally

Gained 159 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 118 in Pass Efficiency

LSU Ranked 107 Nationally

Gained 128 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 100 in Pass Efficiency

Southern California Ranked 40 Nationally

Gained 264 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 46 in Pass Efficiency

Mississippi Ranked 83 Nationally

Gained 189 on Auburn

They are Ranked 81 in Pass Efficiency

Washington Ranked 84 Nationally

Gained 127 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 83 in Pass Efficiency

Chattanooga Ranked 5 FBS

Gained 233 on Auburn

California Ranked 95 Nationally

Gained 69 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 89 in Pass Efficiency

Georgia Ranked 39 Nationally

Gained 273 Yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 14 in Pass Efficiency

Arizona Ranked 9 Nationally

Gained 448 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 33 in Pass Efficiency

Alabama Ranked 27 Nationally

Gained 377 yards on Auburn

They are Ranked 5 in Pass Efficiency

Oregon State Ranked 72 Nationally

Gained 229 Yards on Oregon

They are Ranked 75 in Pass Efficiency

South Carolina Ranked 43 Nationally

Gained 193 on Auburn

They are Ranked 21 in Pass Efficiency

 

Average Opponent Passing Production Rank 48

Average Opponent Passing Production Rank 58

Average Opponent Pass Efficiency Rank

44

Average Opponent Pass Efficiency Rank

65

Teams Limited to 200 Yards or Less Production

Mississippi State

Pass Efficiency Rank 37

LSU

Pass Efficiency Rank 100

Mississippi

Pass Efficiency Rank 81

South Carolina (Second Game)

Pass Efficiency Rank 21

Teams Limited to 200 Yards or Less Production

New Mexico

Pass Efficiency Rank 116

Tennessee

Pass Efficiency Rank 41

Portland State

Pass Efficiency Rank (FCS Team)

UCLA

Pass Efficiency Rank 118

Washington

Pass Efficiency Rank 83

California

Pass Efficiency Rank 89

Teams Allowed 300 Passing Yards or More

Arkansas State

Ranked 57 in Pass Efficiency

South Carolina

Ranked 21 in Pass Efficiency

Arkansas

Ranked 4 in Pass Efficiency

Alabama

Ranked 5 in Pass Efficiency

Teams Allowed 300 Passing Yards or More

Arizona State

Ranked 56 in Pass Efficiency

Stanford

Ranked 7 in Pass Efficiency

Arizona

Ranked 33 in Pass Efficiency

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