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Most Improved Rush Defense in 2009

In my 2009 College Preview Magazine on pgs 324 and 327 I included my computer’s projected stats in 2009 for all 120 FBS teams. There were several different categories including rush offense/defense, pass offense/defense, offensive pts and defensive pts.

On the right hand side of the page I listed the teams that my computer projected to be most improved in ’09 compared to ’08 season in 6 different categories. I had them ranked in order from Most Improved all the way down to the Least Improved and included the top 15 in each category along with the bottom 5.

In today’s blog I have included my projections of the teams I thought would be most improved in rush defense heading into the 2009 season and how they finished in the final NCAA rankings.

In the coming days I will feature a different category in each blog and I think you will be impressed with the results of the accuracy of my projections.

Most Improved Rush Defense 2009

Preseason Projection

Rank Team
1 San Diego St
2 Kansas St
3 Washington
4 UNLV
5 Oklahoma
6 Florida
7 ULM
8 Rutgers
9 Marshall
10 Louisiana
11 Oklahoma St
12 BYU
13 North Texas
14 Arkansas
15 Fresno St
116 Louisiana Tech
117 Hawaii
118 Bowling Green
119 Maryland
120 WKU

Final Rankings

Rank Team 09 Rush Def YPG 08 Rush Def YPG Diff
5 San Diego St. 165.5 247.5 -82
1 Kansas St. 105.42 217.67 -112.25
3 Washington 148.83 240.58 -91.75
76 UNLV 220.58 213.08 7.5
26 Oklahoma 92.92 116.21 -23.29
54 Florida 99.79 105.43 -5.64
2 ULM 110.08 212.67 -102.59
17 Rutgers 103.23 135.62 -32.39
20 Marshall 134.85 164.42 -29.57
18 Louisiana 181.92 213.25 -31.33
13 Oklahoma St. 95.77 137.85 -42.08
19 BYU 110.15 140.31 -30.16
44 North Texas 195.58 207.08 -11.5
29 Arkansas 152.69 170.75 -18.06
72 Fresno St. 214.08 210 4.08
114 Louisiana Tech 162.83 103.85 58.98
115 Hawaii 201.85 142.07 59.78
94 Bowling Green 194.23 162.58 31.65
73 Maryland 150.83 146.69 4.14
119 Western Ky. 244.83 162.42 82.41

As you can see my projections were pretty close. I nailed 4 of the top 5 most improved teams and 11 of my top 15 teams finished #29 or better! 13 of my 15 teams (86.7%) saw their rush defense ypg decrease and on avg my top 15 improved by 40 ypg in ’09!

My bottom 5 results were just as accurate. All 5 of my projected bottom teams in rush defense saw their ypg increase in ’09 and all 5 of the teams finished 73rd or worse! 3 of my projected preseason teams finished in the bottom 7 and on average the 5 teams had a rush defense increase of 47.4 ypg in ’09!

Going into the season I thought San Diego St would have the most improved rush defense thanks to an amazing hire in Rocky Long as their DC. Long knew the MWC inside and out and produced top notch D’s every year as the Lobos HC. In 2009 under the tutelage of Long, the Aztecs saw their rush defense decrease by 82 ypg which was good enough for #5 in the country.

Kansas St had 8 starters back on defense and welcomed back Bill Snyder who accomplished the greatest rebuilding job in college football history in his 1st stint in Manhattan. I thought the Wildcats would be the 2nd most improved team in rush defense and the Wildcats didn’t disapoint allowing 112.3 ypg less in ’09 which ranked #1.

In 2009 new Washington HC Steve Sarkisian was surprisingly able to hire Nick Holt as the DC. Holt was the HC at Idaho from 2004-’05 and left to return to USC as the DC the last two years. In the magazine I predicted that the Huskies were arguably the Most Improved Team in the country but their tough schedule would probably prevent them from going to a bowl. One of the areas I thought the Huskies would be most improved in was rush defense where I had them ranked #3 and that projection turned out to be dead on as Washington finished #3 with a 91.8 ypg improvement in 09.

Western Kentucky returned only 4 starters on defense and I thought the 2009 season would be a true transition year into the SBC for the Hilltoppers as they finished 0-12. Coming into the season I thought WKU would have the least improved rush defense and unfortunately for them my projection was very close as they finished #119 allowing 82.4 ypg more in ’09.

Overall 18 of the 20 teams (90%) that were featured in my magazine finished with either a higher ypg or lower ypg just as I projected!

Complete List of all 120 Teams

Rank Team 09 Rush Def YPG 08 Rush Def YPG Diff
1 Kansas St. 105.42 217.67 -112.25
2 ULM 110.08 212.67 -102.59
3 Washington 148.83 240.58 -91.75
4 Syracuse 101.83 189.42 -87.59
5 San Diego St. 165.5 247.5 -82
6 SMU 166.69 225.58 -58.89
7 Temple 107.62 166.33 -58.71
8 Idaho 155.15 209.58 -54.43
9 Texas A&M 171.62 219.25 -47.63
10 Wisconsin 88.23 133.31 -45.08
11 North Carolina 95.62 139.38 -43.76
12 UCF 82.77 126.08 -43.31
13 Oklahoma St. 95.77 137.85 -42.08
14 Kent St. 137.08 178.67 -41.59
15 Buffalo 131.75 173 -41.25
16 Colorado St. 152.08 190.08 -38
17 Rutgers 103.23 135.62 -32.39
18 Louisiana 181.92 213.25 -31.33
19 BYU 110.15 140.31 -30.16
20 Marshall 134.85 164.42 -29.57
21 Miami, FL 122.31 151.85 -29.54
22 Michigan St. 113.23 142.46 -29.23
23 UCLA 142.77 169.75 -26.98
24 UAB 143.67 167 -23.33
25 Nebraska 93.14 116.46 -23.32
26 Oklahoma 92.92 116.21 -23.29
27 Miami, OH 186.92 208.33 -21.41
28 Ohio St. 90.77 110.23 -19.46
29 Arkansas 152.69 170.75 -18.06
30 Arizona St. 108.58 126.5 -17.92
31 Pittsburgh 106.31 124.15 -17.84
32 Oregon St. 114.38 131.23 -16.85
33 Middle Tenn 136.77 153.5 -16.73
34 East Carolina 120.29 135.79 -15.5
35 Akron 171.92 187.17 -15.25
36 Stanford 137.92 152.92 -15
37 Central Mich. 122.86 136.54 -13.68
38 Texas Tech 126.77 140.38 -13.61
39 Tulane 204.83 218.42 -13.59
40 Navy 122.14 134.85 -12.71
41 Northern Ill. 124.77 137.38 -12.61
42 Indiana 159.08 171.67 -12.59
43 Toledo 166 178.33 -12.33
44 North Texas 195.58 207.08 -11.5
45 Washington St. 236.42 247.62 -11.2
46 Texas 72.36 83.54 -11.18
47 Ball St. 152.33 163 -10.67
48 Arizona 120.46 131.08 -10.62
49 Iowa St. 165.69 176.17 -10.48
50 California 112 122.23 -10.23
51 Southern Miss. 130.85 139.77 -8.92
52 Air Force 134 141.54 -7.54
53 Missouri 118.62 124.86 -6.24
54 Florida 99.79 105.43 -5.64
55 Colorado 161.17 166.25 -5.08
56 West Virginia 126.69 131.62 -4.93
57 Mississippi St. 146 150.92 -4.92
58 Ohio 153.71 157.58 -3.87
59 Penn St. 89.85 93.23 -3.38
60 Arkansas St. 122 125.17 -3.17
61 North Carolina St. 139.08 142.23 -3.15
62 Troy 137.77 139.69 -1.92
63 Purdue 173.42 174.83 -1.41
64 New Mexico St. 220.69 220.17 0.52
65 Duke 152.83 151.5 1.33
66 UTEP 200.83 199.5 1.33
67 Illinois 154.42 152.92 1.5
68 Northwestern 128.62 126.38 2.24
69 Boise St. 120.36 118 2.36
70 Georgia 126.15 122.31 3.84
71 Alabama 78.14 74.14 4
72 Fresno St. 214.08 210 4.08
73 Maryland 150.83 146.69 4.14
74 South Carolina 137.69 132.69 5
75 Army 151.83 145.08 6.75
76 UNLV 220.58 213.08 7.5
77 Rice 190.58 182.77 7.81
78 Minnesota 151.69 143.31 8.38
79 Oregon 128.69 119.38 9.31
80 Boston College 103.15 91.21 11.94
81 Kansas 138.25 123.08 15.17
82 Auburn 156.08 138.92 17.16
83 Tulsa 147 129.5 17.5
84 Memphis 174.08 152.85 21.23
85 Nevada 111.54 88.62 22.92
86 Connecticut 132.85 109.77 23.08
87 LSU 133.38 110.15 23.23
88 Virginia Tech 128.38 104.43 23.95
89 Clemson 151.5 127.38 24.12
90 Virginia 173.83 149.58 24.25
91 Cincinnati 143.77 115 28.77
92 Iowa 123.62 94 29.62
93 Georgia Tech 151.64 120.31 31.33
94 Bowling Green 194.23 162.58 31.65
95 Wyoming 172.54 140.17 32.37
96 TCU 80.23 47.08 33.15
97 Michigan 171.92 136.92 35
98 Louisville 165.08 129.5 35.58
99 Notre Dame 170.25 134.15 36.1
100 Western Mich. 178.33 140.46 37.87
101 Utah 137.85 99.15 38.7
102 Wake Forest 164.33 124.15 40.18
103 South Florida 135.46 95.23 40.23
104 USC 128.15 87.38 40.77
105 Baylor 178.75 137.92 40.83
106 Florida Atlantic 220.58 178.69 41.89
107 New Mexico 165 122.25 42.75
108 Kentucky 182.92 139.23 43.69
109 Utah St. 205.5 161.58 43.92
110 Tennessee 149.54 103.08 46.46
111 Houston 226.57 175.15 51.42
112 Vanderbilt 197.83 144.69 53.14
113 Mississippi 140.31 85.54 54.77
114 Louisiana Tech 162.83 103.85 58.98
115 Hawaii 201.85 142.07 59.78
116 Florida St. 204.62 132.54 72.08
117 FIU 232.83 156.17 76.66
118 Eastern Mich. 276.75 196.33 80.42
119 Western Ky. 244.83 162.42 82.41
120 San Jose St. 259.17 141.42 117.75
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  • jeffreysklan

    great column, as always, phil.

    the game part of the season is over…and the details have emerged. as my dad would have said (he would be 100 on 3/1 and a huge football fan till the end)…the devil is in the details…
    keep it up, can't wait til the new magazines are ready

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Jeffrey,
    Thanks for the kind words and my dad, Hank also played a major role in my work ethic and passion for football. I am currently hard at work on the magazine and I want the 2010 edition to be the best yet! The magazine should hit the newsstands in late May so check for it then. Thanks, Phil

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Jeffrey,
    Thanks for the kind words and my dad, Hank also played a major role in my work ethic and passion for football. I am currently hard at work on the magazine and I want the 2010 edition to be the best yet! The magazine should hit the newsstands in late May so check for it then. Thanks, Phil