Nebraska Defensive Efficiency – Part III

For Brandon and all of the history buffs. Here is the historical breakdown of our Bendability Index over time. Remember that the Bendability Index is essentially a measure of Yards Per Point Allowed.

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Year Bendability Index Yds. Allowed Pts. Allowed Record Final AP Rank
2006 18.15 4646 256 9-5 NR
2005 15.82 3986 252 8-4 24th
2004 13.72 4088 298 5-6 NR
2003 20.55 3863 188 10-3 19th
2002 15.13 5067 335 7-7 NR
2001 18.23 3446 189 11-2 8th
2000 16.62 3540 213 10-2 8th
1999 20.18 3027 150 12-1 3rd
1998 20.57 3764 183 9-4 19th
1997 15.68 3088 197 13-0 *2nd
1996 20.03 3065 153 11-2 6th
1995 21.57 3235 150 12-0 1st
1994 21.42 3106 145 13-0 1st
1993 19.23 3384 176 11-1 3rd
1992 19.80 3384 172 9-3 14th
1991 18.13 3772 208 9-2-1 15th
1990 19.71 2898 147 9-3 24th
1989 17.33 3015 174 10-2 11th
1988 17.32 3153 182 11-2 10th
1987 21.89 2912 133 10-2 6th
1986 17.28 2592 150 10-2 5th
1985 22.57 3070 136 9-3 11th
1984 21.30 2236 105 10-2 4th
1983 23.76 4420 186 12-1 2nd
1982 25.45 3487 137 12-1 3rd
1981 25.68 2645 103 9-3 11th
1980 24.92 2318 93 10-2 7th
1979 20.67 2708 131 10-2 9th
1978 16.28 3516 216 9-3 8th
1977 17.90 3579 200 9-3 10th
1976 19.51 3532 181 9-3 9th
1975 20.44 2800 137 10-2 9th
1974 23.70 3128 132 9-3 9th
1973 17.79 2900 163 9-2-1 7th

And here we see the Top 10 seasons from the past:

1. 1981 – 25.68
2. 1982 – 25.45
3. 1980 – 24.92
4. 1983 – 23.76
5. 1974 – 23.70
6. 1985 – 22.57
7. 1987 – 21.89
8. 1995 – 21.57
9. 1994 – 21.42
10. 1984 – 21.30

You’ll notice an interesting run in the early 80s. I found this a bit surprising, so I decided to take a closer look. The 1981 Blackshirts were led by All-American and Big 8 Defensive Player-of-the-Year (UPI) Jimmy Williams. Williams was joined by fellow All Big-8 performer Jeff Krecji. Tony Felici, Sammy Sims, and Ric Lindquist were named all-conference by the World Herald. Steve Damkroger led the Huskers with 116 tackles, while Williams finished with 10 sacks. The Blackshirts set a team record in 1981 after giving up just 9 TDs during the season. Other than just yielding such a small number of TDs, nothing really jumps out at me about this particular defense. Of course, I don’t have much to go on. I know I was cheering hard for this team, but let’s face it, I hadn’t even turned 4 when they took the field. Maybe one of our older readers can enlighten us (Dad)?

Next, we see the ten worst seasons over the last 34 years.

1. 2004 – 13.72
2. 2002 – 15.13
3. 1997 – 15.68
4. 2005 – 15.82
5. 1978 – 16.28
6. 2000 – 16.62
7. 1986 – 17.28
8. 1988 – 17.32
9. 1989 – 17.33
10. 1973 – 17.79

I’m absolutely not surprised to see three seasons from the very recent past up at the top. We just haven’t been a great defensive team for a while. I was shocked, however, to see the 1997 team so high on this list. As I hope you’ve discovered, while the Bendability Index is a helpful and interesting statistic it isn’t the holy grail of variables. In addition, it becomes important to think about the other side of the ball. The efficiency of a team’s offense can make up for an inefficient defense and vice-versa. In that way, we can start to understand that while the 1997 team didn’t boast the most efficient defense, its offense was likely one of the most efficient in history. So, that’s where we’ll go next, examining offensive efficiency or, a team’s Scorability Index.

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