Stat Attack | UAB
On last week's episode of Stat Attack, we singled out the Thundering Herd's fourth down defense as a strength for Marshall. And while the game was not ultimately decided by fourth down attempts, the Herd was able to stop both of Tech's tries.
But this week, Tech goes from playing the best fourth down defense in the conference to the second best - UAB. Even more troubling, though, is just how good the Blazer defense is across the board.
The UAB defense leads the conference in points per game, yards per play, and yards per game:
With J'Mar Smith out another week, Aaron Allen will be called on again to lead the Tech offense. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the UAB defense doesn't give up a lot of the easy passes you'd like to see available for a young quarterback. Instead, the Blazers only allow a 51.4% completion percentage, the fourth best nationally.
Even when Allen is able to complete a pass, the Blazers allow the fewest yards per completion in the conference outside of Tech's own defense. So at this point, it should be no surprise that UAB also gives up the fewest passing yards per game of any C-USA school, and the seventh fewest in college football.
And then I have some more bad news. The Blazer run stopping has been just as solid as their pass defense. Tech's opponent this week leads the conference in both rush yards allowed per attempt and rush yards allowed per game:
So now, at the all is lost moment, I'd like to bring up UAB's strength of schedule.
To show just how bad those UAB opponents have been, here are how each of those teams rank nationally in passing and rushing yards per game:
Even if we assume the J'Mar-less offense looks similar to their showing in West Virginia, the 194 yards Allen and Elliot combined for would rank the Tech passing attack 100th in the country. That's not ideal, but the Blazers have only defeated one team with a better passing rank (Akron).
But to say we can completely discount the UAB defense because they've only faced downright dreadful offenses isn't really fair either. Let's see how each of those UAB opponents did against the Blazers compared to their season average:
So on average, the UAB defense has forced opposing teams to gain about 0.6 fewer yards per attempt, for both rushing and passing.
This season, Tech is averaging 4.9 yards per rush and 7.7 yards per throw. Let's say UAB does force Tech to average 4.3 yards per carry and 7.1 yards per pass. The only teams that have been more successful per play in either category against the Blazers were WKU and USM, both losses for UAB.
Again, it will all come down to Aaron Allen and the rest of the team's performance. But while this UAB defense is scary, they might not be quite as good as the numbers initially show.
Nathan is also a contributor to gtpdd.dog, a lighthearted Louisiana Tech blog. Be sure to check out @gotechplsdntdie on Twitter.