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Best D-Line in Pack History – 2005 vs. 2017, Week 6 Comparison

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Subjectivity overcomes stats in this week’s contest

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State
Lamar’s going down . . . here comes the Chubb!
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In this type of a comparison, there are going to be weeks when we are presented with conflicting evidence – one line did better in some stats, but not as good in others. For this week, we have the added variable of a significant team win. These kinds of results require an even greater level of subjectivity than normal.

Week 6 Individual Stats:

Best D-Line Week 6 Individual

2005 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
2005 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
Williams 4 1 5 3.5 3
Lawson 7 2 9 2 0
Tyler 0 1 1 0.5 0
McCargo 2 0 2 1 0
Pressley 4 0 4 1 0
TOTAL 17 4 21 8 3
2017 Solo Assists Total TFL Sacks
Chubb 2 4 6 2 1
Street 0 2 2 0.0 0.0
Hill 1 3 4 0.0 0.0
Bryant 2 0 2 2.0 2.0
Jones 0 3 3 0.5 0.0
TOTAL 5 12 17 4.5 3.0

Considering the “headline-grabbing” stats (TFLs and Sacks), 2005 wins as they earned almost twice the number of TFLs while the sacks were a draw. 2005 also had more tackles, although it is a misleading stat in that Wake had 20 more rushes than Louisville, giving 2005 many more opportunities.

I have not spent any time in previous weeks breaking down the Solo vs Assists tackle data, but there is an interesting dichotomy this week. 2005 lead in solo tackles (17 to 5). We can draw many conclusions from this stat, one of which could be that the superior individual talent of 2005 (three first-round draft picks) enabled them to bring down runners by themselves. On the other hand, you could validly argue that with a greater number of assists, 2017 played more like a team with more gang tackling.

My vote here gives the nod to 2005.

Week 6 Team Stats:

Best D-Line Week 6 Team

STAT 2005 2017
STAT 2005 2017
Rushes 49 29
Yards 85 116
YPC 1.73 4
Rush TDs 1 2

2005 crushes 2017 on these metrics – really no debate on the numbers, although 2017 faced an athletic “freak” in Heisman-holder Lamar Jackson, who appears nearly unstoppable on designed QB runs and on pass plays where he is flushed from the pocket and gets out in space.

Nevertheless, there is an adage that numbers don’t lie (but they can be twisted). 2005 gave up a microscopic 1.73 YPC, surrendering 31 less yards while defending 20 more rushing attempts. Furthermore, they allowed fewer touchdowns.

Week 6 Cumulative Stats:

Best D-Line Week 6 Cumulative

2005 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5 Wk6 TOTAL
2005 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5 Wk6 TOTAL
Solo Tkl 7 2 8 2 7 17 43
Assist Tkl 15 5 19 10 11 4 64
Total Tkl 22 7 27 12 18 21 107
TFL 3 5 8.5 1.5 4 8 30
Sacks 1 0 4 0 0 3 8
Rushes 41 31 49 38 41 49 249
Yards 124 48 144 164 243 85 808
YPC 3.02 1.55 2.94 4.32 5.93 1.73 3.24
Rush TDs 1 0 1 1 2 1 6
2017 Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5 Wk6 TOTAL
Solo Tkl 3 9 13 8 9 5 47
Assist Tkl 9 4 16 4 21 12 66
Total Tkl 12 13 29 12 30 17 113
TFL 3.5 3 3.5 4 7.5 4.5 26
Sacks 0 1 3 4 3 3 14
Rushes 21 25 47 26 30 29 178
Yards 61 101 133 104 59 116 574
YPC 2.9 4.04 2.83 4 1.97 4 3.22
Rush TDs 1 0 0 0 2 2 5

Overall, the competition has tightened considerably after 2005’s superior results on the week 6 stats sheet. 2017 remains in the lead on sacks, while 2005 extended its lead on TFLs. The YPC and TDs are almost identical.

Summary

At the beginning of this post, I stated we are going to need more subjectivity than normal to determine this week’s victor. Now would be a good time to ask . . . Why? The numbers clearly decree a decisive 2005 win.

Not so fast . . .

First of all, the 2005 squad lost to a weak 2-5 Wake team (though it should be noted two of those losses were to teams ranked in the Top 15) that would go on to post a 4-7 (3-5) record. Alas, in fairness to 2005, our offense was atrocious that year. Give the 2005 team our 2017 offense, and they stroll to victory in a laugher.

Second, as we often return to, it comes down to Ws . . . 2005 lost to a sub-.500 team while 2017 defeated #17 Louisville with the reigning Heisman winner in tow. It is important to note the Wake game was on the road, while Carter-Finley gave 2017 one of the best home-field atmospheres in recent memory.

Third, are stats allowed to trump one of the most important victories in State history? Perhaps my vision is getting cloudy here, and I may be jumping the gun a bit too early with so much season left to play. However, following up on our FSU win with a prime time conquest of a nationally-recognized Louisville team could (repeat “could” several more times) be a program-changing, perception-turning, 5-star-recruit-gathering, historically-important win.

Despite the stats, the 2017 D-Line (with major assists from our potent offensive weapons and crowd noise) clearly was the difference in the game. They made the decisive contributions to holding Louisville’s offensive juggernaut to 15 points below their season average.

Just like the Recency Bias can lead to financial investors making poor investment decisions, as humans tend to give greater credence to what has been happening recently, I may be prone here to give 2017 the victory as I am still on the high of our superb win.

Nevertheless, at this important juncture in the season, with the importance-cannot-be-overstated win, it just doesn’t “seem right” to declare 2005 the victor on stats alone, so . . .

. . . for the fourth week in a row, I pronounce 2017 this week’s winner.

Week 7 Sneak Preview

2005 stepped outside of conference play and delivered a strong statistical performance against Southern Miss . . . while 2017 will face a struggling Pitt Panther squad, giving them an equal opportunity for statistical dominance . . . should be another interesting comparison.