What hurt the Hawks more in 2010: Offense or Defense?

I was flipping through the channels today and ran across SportsNation. I like the show but don't really like Mark Schlereth who happened to be the guest. Then he said something that struck me as kind of cool. When talking about the Texans (or Titans. I don't know. Same division, same record, same crappy team), he said,

"Their offense was a 12-4 team while their defense was a 4-12 team. That's why they end up 8-8."

Now, maybe it's the statistician in me, but I immediately jumped from the TV to the computer to see if I could do something along those lines (with actual statistical evidence unlike Schlereth) with the 2010 Hawkeyes. 

So, what I did was first find what the average PPG for offense was in the FBS. I set that as the default for the Hawkeye's offense (which is basically the same thing: Iowa's off ppg - 28.9, NCAA's off ppg - 27.9) so I could calculate what the defense's record would be if offense was neutral. Now, this is basic statistics and are not 100% accurate, but I thought it would be fun so deal with it.

As mentioned before, the national PPG average is 27.9 (28) points. Iowa had 4 pick sixes last year, meaning on average, Iowa's defense scored 2 points per game. I then averaged 30 with the average PPG the opposing team's defense allowed. Then I averaged the team Iowa was playing's average PPG with the average PPG the Iowa defense allowed. So, when all said and done, Iowa's defense's record would look something like this: 

W1: vs. Eastern Illinois: W 30-17

W2: vs. Iowa State: W 29-19

W3: @ Arizona: W 26-23

W4: vs. Ball State: W 30-20

W5: vs. Penn State: W 27-21

W6: @ Michigan: W 33-25

W7: vs. Wisconsin: L 29-25

W8: vs. Michigan St.: W 26-23

W9: @ Indiana: W 32-22

W10: @ Northwestern: W 29-22

W11: vs. Ohio State: L 28-22

W12: @ Minnesota: W 32-20

W13: vs. Missouri: L 23(.4)-23(.1)

Overall record: 10-3

I found the Mizzou game quite interesting. Iowa was ranked 7th in the nation in points allowed and Mizzou was 6th. Offensively, Iowa was ranked 50th in points scored and Mizzou was 46th. So statistically, it was a nail-biter as you can see from the score. It's funny how real life reflected that, although in real life, Iowa won the game because of their defense, not lost. But this is just statistical. So deal with it.

Now, let's see what our offense did for us:


W1: vs. Eastern Illinois: W 30-22

W2: vs. Iowa State: W 29-24

W3: @ Arizona: L 28-26

W4: vs. Ball State: W 30-25

W5: vs. Penn State: W 27-26

W6: @ Michigan: W 33-30

W7: vs. Wisconsin: L 34-25

W8: vs. Michigan St.: L 28-26

W9: @ Indiana: 32-27

W10: @ Northwestern: W 29-27

W11: vs. Ohio State: L 33-22

W12: @ Minnesota: W 32-25

W13: vs. Missouri: L 28-23

Overall record: 8-5


As expected, our pound-it-out offense that doesn't produce the big numbers failed to keep us in games all year. The defense may have "collapsed" on us late in the games last year, but it was the slow-paced, nothing-flashy offense that prevented us from squeaking out the close ones. 

Now, I'll average the scores to see if we have an accurate reading of the 2010 Hawkeyes:


W1: vs. Eastern Illinois: W 30-20

W2: vs. Iowa State: W 29-22

W3: @ Arizona: W 26-25

W4: vs. Ball State: W 30-22

W5: vs. Penn State: W 27-24

W6: @ Michigan: W 33-27

W7: vs. Wisconsin: L 31-25

W8: vs. Michigan St.: W 26-25

W9: @ Indiana: 32-24

W10: @ Northwestern: W 29-25

W11: vs. Ohio State: L 31-22

W12: @ Minnesota: W 32-23

W13: vs. Missouri: L 26-23

Overall record: 10-3

Wait. So, what happened?

Well, one important factor left out that skews the statistics: Special Teams. For example:

According to my statistics, the Iowa defense was strong enough to beat Arizona. The offense didn't quite enough to beat them single-handedly, but good enough to hold on for the win. So why didn't we? Well, it doesn't help to give up a punt block on your own 8 yard line, then giving up a 100-yard kickoff return and letting them block a PAT. Even if Arizona hadn't scored 2 plays after the punt block (they did), that makes it an 8-point differential because of special teams. The final score if Iowa hadn't allowed the blocked PAT and kickoff for TD? 35-34. God knows what would have happened if Donahue had a 50 yard punt instead of it being blocked. Arizona might not have gone home so happy.

Another example is the Wisconsin-Iowa game. Although statistically they were the better team and deserved to win that game, as supported by the statistics, I still go to bed wondering what would have happened if that PAT hadn't been blocked.

Supposedly, Iowa should have just flat-out beat jNW. A 12-yard punt put Northwestern in field goal range only 3 plays into their drive. Iowa's offense didn't help one bit, but it's still frustrating to have those mistakes on Special Teams.

And again, Minnesota should have been an easy win. Our defense only allowed 3 points on the opening drive, but the Special Teams made sure that it would make the game interesting. The next play, Minnesota easily recovered their onside kick and the Hawks went down by 10 before the offense had even touched the ball.

It's the little things that cost the Hawkeyes wins, and maybe the offense would have won more games had the Special Teams stepped it up.

Please, no one get all steamed because you don't like the statistics. It's just for fun. 

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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