By the time the final horn sounded against TCU, the Oklahoma State defense, led by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, had defended a total of 110 plays that went for 663 yards during their convincing 49-29 win over the Horned Frogs.
As far as plays go, 110 is about twice as many plays as most defenses saw on Saturday, so giving up 663 yards really isn't all that bad in the grand scheme of things. Spencer noted that sentiment after the game.
“Some teams will play 55 snaps today. I think we defended 17 possessions, 110 (snaps), so we just played two ball games compared to what some people do." Spencer told NewsOK.
"That's why the yardage thing is so irrelevant. People of influence have got to figure this out how to evaluate defense.”
TCU had 17 possessions and managed just 29 points, meaning that the Cowboys defense allowed an impressive 1.7 points per possession.
Box scores and stat sheets have been around since football got started, but Spencer has a great point here. It's time we stopped judging defenses by points allowed, or yards allowed, or any other irrelevant stat and started looking at points per possession. No huddle offenses are putting up video game-type numbers, and stealing extra possessions every game with their tempo
When stats are used to determine or illustrate the progress, or regression, of coaches everywhere, it's important that we're all looking at relevant information. Points per possession is a much better barometer of not only how a defense played, but how prepared they were heading into the game.
As Spencer points out, points per possession is really the only stat that matters anymore, and we should all pay more attention to it.
Or perhaps you're in the same camp as Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his "stats are for losers" philosophy.