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The Very Ugly Numbers

I was thinking about a post on the sheer stastical realities on UNC's football futility but J.P. Giglio at ACC Now beat me to it which is fine because now I don't have to do (as much) research. Stats are impossible to argue with because they are the unvarnished truth, especially when you are talking about scoring and points allowed. The tale being told for UNC, Duke, and NC State, according to the numbers is pretty sad. According to Giglio the three Triangle schools rank near the bottom among 119 Division I-A schools in turnover margin. Duke and UNC are tied at 109th and NC State is 117th. Scoring offense is somewhat better with UNC at 86th, NC State at 91st, and Duke which has been shutout three out of four games dead last averaging 3 points a game. The scoring defense is what is most disturbing for Tar Heel fans. NC State is ranked a respectable 57th which is not great but not awful. Duke is ranked 80th. UNC is ranked 115th* surrendering 37.5 points a game. Who is worse? Tulane, Lousiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, and Temple. The funny thing about the bottom five is that four of them are on Clemson's schedule. Let it never be said that Tommy Bowden does not schedule to win. And just in case you are wondering if UNC has given up huge quanities of points via bad bounces of the football which gave their opponents prime field position, that is not the case. UNC is ranked 104th in total defense surrendering an average of 402 yards a game. The entire horrific tale can be found here on the NCAA website.

John Bunting addressed the defense yesterday and basically laid blame for the whole debacle thus far on execution. Bunting asserts that they have the personnel, they think the schemes they are using are workable, but in his opinion the players are not executing within those schemes effectively. And he might be right but the question I would ask is why do the players fail to execute? Do they not understand the schemes? Are they ill prepared? Are the coaches failing to get them to a point where they understand the "big picture" and act accordingly? I would think these are questions worth answering especially since arguably the worst football team in the nation, Duke, is ranked 35 spots ahead of you in scoring defense. It is a safe bet UNC has better talent than Duke. The opposition they have face has been comprable so how is it Duke can be an average of 10 points better on defense than UNC?

It could very well turn out to be player effort and execution but it also should be noted that this is not the first time UNC has struggled in the area of surrendering too many points. The entire six year tenure under Bunting shows UNC gives up an average of 30 points a game. During the previous five seasons the UNC scoring defense has been ranked 32, 102, 113, 92, 67. So Bunting got off to a promising start on defense but then quickly slid down to the bottom, managed to come up to the middle of the pack last season only now to slip back to the bottom again. The point is, if the current ranking holds Bunting will have fielded four teams in the bottom one fourth of the NCAA in scoring defense with only the first season(using Carl Torbush's players) and last season as anomalies. That folks is what we call a pattern. So we can talk all day about player execution, effort, little green men shining lasers in the eyes of the safeties but there is one indisputable common denominator over six seasons and that is the coaching staff. Draw your own conclusions from that.

*Giglio lists UNC as being 117th in scoring defense. The statistics on the NCAA web site have them ranked 115th.