Unfortunately, those offensive stats have been rolled up against some pretty shaky defenses from a national perspective. Let's face it, as impressive as Wake has been, they are not considered a defensive powerhouse. Neither is Tulane, a team that has already been bombarded for 70 by BYU this year. As for William & Mary, it looks like they will have a solid year in 1AA, but that statement in itself says enough.
The defense, however, looks very different yet quite familiar at the same time. The opposition is passing for 247 yards per game, which would suggest we are stopping the run and forcing the pass, right? Not exactly. The opposition has gained 203 yards per game on the ground, most of it effortlessly right between the tackles. That kind of ball control has allowed the opposition to control the game, as Wake did for 36+ minutes in the opener, and William & Mary did for an incredible 42 minutes Saturday. After seeing that, I am amazed we've been able to win 2 games so far. In a nutshell, the reason we are winning is because our offense is scoring at a pace of 1.5 points per minute on the field, while the defense is yielding at .63 points per minute on the field. See, if you try hard enough, you CAN manipulate the stats to make yourself feel better.
So how can our defense look different and familiar at the same time? Well, it looks quite different than the Coach Rose ‘fly to the ball' units that we have seen the past two years, and more like the bend but don't break units of years gone by. Unfortunately, when we play better competition, such as Syracuse & UNC upcoming, that bending might begin to stretch more and more if we cannot play just a little defense outside the red zone. Syracuse just beat Auburn 31-14 in the Dome, and UNC should be flying high right now after its impressive 41-9 demolition of FSU. I don't know if the defense hasn't gelled yet, or if the real backbone was among last year's senior class of Ahmadu, Claybrooks, and Yellock. I guess we shall find out in the coming weeks.
Until then, a win is a win is a win. That's what I'll keep telling myself until Saturday.