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VARSITY NUMBERS: A Disruptive Presence

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Presswire

I'm on the road for the weekend (greetings from Starkvegas!), but here is my latest piece at Football Outsiders. I enjoyed this one.

Alabama is both disruptive and fantastic. Of course they are. So are LSU, Rutgers, et cetera. But there are some interesting contradictions among some teams.

Disruptive But Bad: Hawaii, North Carolina, Ole Mis, San Jose State, Syracuse, Houston. All of these teams rank at least 40 spots higher in disruption than they do in Defensive S&P. Hawaii is perhaps the most impressive of the bunch. Almost one full quarter of the Warriors' defensive plays result in either a pick, a break up, or a tackle for loss. The other three-quarters, meanwhile, are probably going for a big gain. Part of this has to do with the contradiction on their schedule so far -- they got torched by USC, then blew up poor Lamar -- but they did still log six tackles for loss against the Trojans, too. North Carolina similarly torched Elon, but they also recorded 16 tackles for loss in losses to Louisville and Wake Forest. They are aggressive and fast, but the breakdowns are frequent.

Passive But Solid: Penn State, Boise State, Boston College, Louisville. All four of these teams rank in the top 50 in Defensive S&P and at least 50 spots lower in disruption. Boise State held Michigan State to a reasonably decent 5.1 yards per play and limited Miami (Ohio) to 4.4, but the tackles for loss have been minimal, and they have defensed just six passes (three picks, three passes broken up) in two games. Penn State, meanwhile, has defensed just eight in three games, but solid front seven play has still pushed them to 45th in Defensive S&P.