Manny Diaz Gets It

From an excellent interview Texas’s defensive coordinator did with

But statistics were also changing for in-game analysis. Whereas it might once be considered an advanced metric to look at red zone efficiency, Diaz said Texas is focused on red zone touchdown efficiency.

“You can win a national championship by making people kick field goals in the red zone,” Diaz said. “And you can finish last, in theory, in red zone defense. It just doesn’t make sense.”


That phenomenon has given rise to statistics like Slow Grind — the number of plays a defense forces an offense to take to score — and the S&P+ Ratings, a play-by-play success rate that factors for situation and competition. Looking at the latter rating, you can see Diaz’s 2011 Texas defense come to life through the numbers. The Longhorns finished No. 4 nationally in the statistic, but were especially good on running plays — a major Diaz focus — and on winning passing situations (defined as second down with eight or more yards to go, or third or fourth down with five or more yards to go). Texas was third nationally in Rushing S&P+, and second only to national champion Alabama in Passing Downs S&P+.

“Those are the tenets of our defense,” said Diaz, who follows both S&P+ and Slow Grind. “We’ll show those kinds of things to our players during the season just to reinforce what we already know. There aren’t usually any ‘eureka’ moments, but it works more side-by-side with what we see on film.”

. . . That’s why Diaz said the film is important, and why players are coached to focus on their performance, rather than the play’s outcome. “Last year, everybody was wondering six games into the season why our defensive ends couldn’t get sacks, and then the next couple games they started getting sacks,” Diaz said. “But we were also covering better those games. Quarterbacks maybe held onto the ball a half-second longer. All of a sudden the defensive ends get the plaudits, but a lot of it was maybe because of the coverage.

“Nothing happens to a defensive player in a bubble,” Diaz said. “That’s what makes college football the opposite of baseball. Because in baseball, everything happens in a bubble: this guy pitches, this guy hits and the ball is hit to that guy.”

Read the rest here.

  • Think you have to break down cutups to get the mismatch reel. What created it, and what was the result? If the defense is good at limiting execution on those plays it is ky. Even if you don’t give up big gains but you do let them convert every 3rd and eight it wouldn’t be a dominating defense. So stats can;t always tell you something there.

    Think a measure of third down stats probably does the same thing as your end zone effeciency stat index.

  • amy thompson