The Scoop on Stats: Best of the Best (Defense)

Yesterday we took a look at the major NCAA offensive statistics to see which teams stood alone as the best in college football. Today, it's time to look at the defensive side of the ball. 

Without further ado...

Rushing Defense - Mount Union (D-III - OH): 48.2 yards per game. This category was like walking down a set of stairs. The lower you got, the closer you got to the floor. Alabama led FBS with 79.8 ypg, Harvard led FCS with 69.4 ypg, Shepherd (W.Va.) led Division II with 52.6 ypg, and then there was Mount Union. The Purple Raiders limited opponents to just 1.58 yards per carry this season.

Passing Defense - Wisconsin - Lutheran (D-III): 123.2 yards per game. Opposing passers completed just 122 passes for 1,232 yards in 10 games against the Warriors. For the record, Mount Union placed third in this category.

Pass Efficiency Defense - Carroll (D-III - WI): 78.1 opponents' quarterback rating. Carroll allowed just 43.6 percent of passes to be completed for just 4.56 yards per attempt, while permitting just 10 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. For the record, Mount Union finished second in this category.

Total Defense - Mount Union: 180.6 yards per game. The Purple Raiders, who won the Division III championship with a 15-0 record, finished more than 40 yards ahead everyone else in the NCAA. With an average of 2.93 yards allowed per play, a typical series ended with the opponent faced with a 4th and 1. 

Scoring Defense - Mount Union: 8.93 points per game. The Notre Dame defense, led by FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year Bob Diaco, placed second but, really, could it have been anybody else? Mount Union allowed 18 touchdowns and three field goals, 134 total points, in 15 games. The Purple Raiders did not allow a single point between Sept. 15 and Oct. 20, pitching six straight shutouts.

Other defensive statistics....
Turnovers Gained - Winston-Salem State (D-II - NC): 43
Tackles For Loss - West Virginia Wesleyan (D-II): 11.09 per game
Sacks - Linfield (D-III - OR): 5.25 per game
First Downs Defense - Mount Union: 11.07 per game
Third Down Defense - Salve Regina (D-III - RI): 23.39 percent  (40-for-171)
Fourth Down Defense - Wesleyan (D-III - CT): 12.5 percent (2-for-16)
Red Zone Defense - Heidelberg (D-III - OH): 50 percent (13 TDs and 4 FGs in 34 attempts)

Matt Rhule returns home to Temple

Matt Rhule envisioned getting the head coaching job at Temple once before. He had spent five years as an assistant to Al Golden, rising from defensive line coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Rhule had helped the Owls rise from a lifetime spent in college football's basement to a 17-8 record over the 2009-10 seasons.

So when Golden left for Miami, Rhule interviewed with athletic director Bill Bradshaw for Temple's head coaching vacancy. He didn't get it. Bradshaw's selection, Steve Addazio, offered Rhule a spot on his staff if he was willing to take a demotion. 

The way Rhule sees it, getting turned down was the best thing that ever happened to him.

"I want to thank Bill Bradshaw," said Rhule. "He turned me down two years ago, and he was right. I wasn't ready then but I'm ready now."

In the two years since, Rhule spent one season coaching under the Urban Meyer system with Addazio and another as the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants getting, as he says it, "a PhD in offensive football."

Now Rhule returns to the place he always wanted to be. Rhule and his family have invested in Temple and adopted Philadelphia as their home, saying "This is our school. This is our home. We've built a home here."

Rhule quoted Temple University founder Russell Conwell, stating, "He who would be great anywhere must first be great in his own Philadelphia."

Temple just finished its first year in a its second turn in the ever-changing Big East, but Rhule sees the opportunity ahead for the program. 

"We have a chance to play on a national stage. We have a chance to play in a championship game and we have access to a BCS bowl. That's all we want is an opportunity."

Rhule knows that Temple has a different set of advantages than that of a traditional state school. He brought up Temple's academic foundation and the chance for Temple players to use the resources of Philadelphia that weren't afforded to him when he played three hours down the road in State College.

"We want our young men to not only to graduate, we want them to be educated," Rhule explained. "I went to Penn State, a tremendous school but we didn't have the opportunity we have here. If you're a business major, you couldn't do an internship in Philadelphia. It's the same for marketing, pre-med, whatever you want to be, Philadelphia has it."

Rhule said that it was Temple's players that kept him in Philadelphia when Golden left and Addazio took over, and it was Temple's players that brought him back. Many of the team's leaders recommended Rule for the job after Addazio's departure.

"To hear them know who I am, that I believe in discipline, but that I know how to have fun and be one of them," he said. "To hear some of the things they said, it's almost better than getting the job."

VIDEO: All Access - Major Applewhite

With Bryan Harsin departing for the head job at Arkansas State, Texas head coach Mack Brown walked down the hall to find his next offensive coordinator. Major Applewhite has been on staff in Austin as running backs coach since 2008 and will take over play-calling duties, as well as coaching quarterbacks, with the Alamo Bowl later this month.

Longhorn Network recently put a spotlight on Applewhite's coaching and asked the current players about what they thought of the former Longhorn quarterback.

"I want to play for Coach Applewhite because he seems real honest," said junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. "He won't sugar coat it. He'll let you know if you're playing bad, he'll let you know if you're playing well."

"He's always honest in his critique or coaching of you," added junior offensive lineman Mason Walters. "He's going to give you exactly how it is. You don't ever have to wonder what he's thinking about."

Chad Morris dishes on what he looks for in a head coaching opportunity

After having his name linked as a candidate at Texas Tech before the Red Raiders decided to bring on Kliff Kingsbury, Chad Morris explained after practice over the weekend that there are so many things that need to fall into place for you to be successful in your first head coaching stop.

Morris, who had an extremely successful high school coaching career in Texas before moving up to serve as the offensive coordinator at Tulsa and eventually Clemson, explained that money has nothing to do with moving up in the profession for him, it's more about finding the right fit and right opportunity.

The commitment that Clemson has shown to winning and doing things the right way makes Morris more than happy with where he is at now in his coaching career. Their production coupled with the environment that Dabo Swinney has created among the staff (and their compensation) is what Morris explains has given him the opportunity to be selective if, and when, schools reach out to him about their vacancies.

Morris explains the type of things he looks for when evaluating an opportunity to become a head coach.

"It's about have they won in the past? Is there a commitment to winning?"

"There has to be a commitment from a support staff, to a fan base that is hungry to win. There are so many variables that play into a decision that you make. You only get one opportunity to do this, and you want to make sure that you do it in a place where you can be successful, that you can win, and that you can make an impact." he explained.

"Just to say that you're a head coach...that does nothing for me. I have no desire, just to say that 'I'm a head coach at wherever'.  I have no desire to do that because I feel that we have a great situation here."


Jimbo Fisher: Fundamentals are the key to bowl success

Wrapping up a demanding 12 or 13 game schedule followed by some down time before hitting the field and film room hard again to prepare for a bowl can be difficult for a lot of staffs and teams.

After practice this weekend, Jimbo Fisher explained why players bowl game performance sometimes suffers, and why a renewed focus has to be put on fundamentals when you get back out on the field.

"We gotta get back to fundamentals. You get away for 10 days, and you're banged and hurt and bruised up and you have to go back and start all over again and get those fundamentals in for those first three or four practices so you can get back to being able to block and tackle."

"If you go back and look at bowl games, it's turnovers, missed tackles, because you go such a long period of time without doing those things, good angles on your blocks and cuts and all your fundamental things. Those are things that always tend to be an issue in bowl games."

"Those are all fundamental things. You have to go back to blocking and tackling, taking the right angles on runs and blocks and being disciplined. That's going to be key and that's what we try to re-emphasize."

Fisher also noted during his post game presser that they plan to take a look at playing more nickel and dime packages because 75% of their snaps this season have taken place against a one back formation.

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