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Statistically Speaking: More on defensive dominance

 

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(Note: All of these stats come Sunday, thus don't include the Texas A&M-UCLA, West Virginia-Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech-Tennessee games.) 

 

5 - If you can believe it, five times held opponents to fewer rushing yards than MSU did in holding Charleston Southern to 18. Fresno State held Incarnate Word to -30, LSU held BYU to -5, New Mexico held Abilene Christian to 8, Michigan held Florida to 11 and Ohio State held Indiana to 17. The point stands: MSU's rush defense is elite after Week 1. 

 

3 - MSU's 3 forced fumbles is an astronomical number: the national leaders in that category over the last three years have averaged in between 1.5 and 1.6 forced fumbles per game. You're going to read about several numbers below that are tough to project moving forward when considering the competition, but I don't think this is one: if you're getting your hand and your helmet around the football with consistency, you're going to force fumbles against most opponents. Sure, MSU got more opportunities to do so against an option team, but I feel like the point stands. 

 

29 - MSU's 29 first downs against Charleston Southern (from here forth referred to as CSU) would rank pretty well compared to last season: MSU had exactly 29 against Samford and Texas A&M, only bested by the 31 against UMass. 

 

8.2 - I thought Nick Fitzgerald was a little lackluster compared to the realistic expectations for him this year, and he said as much in so many words after the game, but this number is promising for the future. MSU's 8.2 yards per attempt was better than all but two of his games last year, Samford and Arkansas. Assuming Fitzgerald only goes up from here, he's got a good shot at meeting some heightened expectations. 

 

69 - For an area of concern, look at 3rd-down conversion rate on offense. MSU converted 6 of 15, 40 percent, which done over the course of the 2016 season would've ranked MSU 69th in the nation (worse than Ole Miss).  

 

5 - Charleston Southern only notched five tackles for a loss. If done over the course of last season, that would've put MSU in the top 30 nationally in terms of limiting negative plays. MSU will obviously face defensive fronts much more menacing than CSU's (did you see the Alabama game?), but it's a good start.

 

 

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