There are a handful of teams that make major improvements over the course of an off season, whethere it's the off season workout program or due to a new coaching staff, or coordinator there are always a few programs that make a huge jump from one year to the next.
Last year one of the stories was the Michigan defense, who was much improved under Greg Mattison, improving 93 spots from 110 to 117 from 2010 to 2011.
Almost to the midway point of the season, there are a few programs that have made considerable progress.
Marshall's offense: Ranking 5th in total offense (558 ypg) and 3rd in passing offense (396 ypg), Marshall has made a huge jump since 2011. The Thundering Herd finished 102nd in total offense last season (333 ypg) and 72nd nationally in passing offense (213 ypg). That's an jump of 97 spots in total offense and 69 spots in passing offense under offensive coordinator / tackles and tight ends coach Bill Legg and co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen, both of whom are in their third season. Their rushing offense has also improved over 40 yards per game and 31 spots from 96th nationally (120 ypg) in 2011 to 65th nationally (162 ypg) this season.
Texas Tech's defense: In his first season leading the Texas Tech defense, defensive coordiantor Art Kaufman has helped the Red Raiders improve in nearly every defensive category after struggling last season. At the end of the 2011 season, Texas Tech ranked dead last in rushing defense, allowing nearly 259 yards per game, and also ranked near the bottom nationally in total defense (#114 - 486 ypg), scoring defense (#117 - 39 ppg), pass efficiency defense (#113 - 155.33), and sacks (#100 - 1.33 per game). This season, through their first five games against Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico, Iowa State and Oklahoma, the Red Raiders are allowing over 150 less yards on the ground (#12 - 93 ypg) and over 275 less in total yards per game (#2 in total defense - 210 ypg). Coach Kaufman and the defensive staff will be tested this weekend against West Virginia who has proven they can do it on the ground and through the air.
Northwestern's special teams: After finishing last season just 6 of 10 on their field goal attempts (97th nationally), Northwestern has yet to miss a field goal attempt this season and leads the country with 12 made field goals (12/12 with an average of 2 made per game). The Wildcat's have also made big strides in their punt return game, already doubling their punts returned for touchdowns from last season. The Wildcats had no returns for touchdowns last season, and already have 2 returned for touchdowns this season in nine attempts.