EDIT NUSS: This is good stuff. Promoted for all to see!
Sometimes I'm just a glutton for punishment.
For any Coug fan, the struggles of the offensive line this season are plain to see. Regardless of scheme, formation, or play calls, the guys up front aren't getting the job done on any kind of consistent basis. This isn't a new phenomenon as both lines have struggled mightily over the course of the past five years, or as we might also call it: "The Abyss Known As Cougar Football Circa 2008 to Present".
Sitting through another season of WSU offensive line futility inspired(?) me to pull the total sacks for and sacks allowed by the Cougs over the last 10+ years in order to see just how bad things really are in comparison to the better times of the past.. The table below summarizes total sacks by years, along with the per game numbers and overall NCAA rank from NCAA.org. I couldn't find national ranking prior to 2005 but, well, I think we get the picture. The pre-2005 numbers are via WSUCougars.com.
Any and all errors are a result of poor typing and/or a brutal hangover. (Updated with post-Apple Cup stats.)
|Year||Games||Sacks Against||Per Game||Rank||Sacks For||Per Game||Rank|
|2012||12||57||4.75||120 of 120||35||2.92||11 of 120|
|2011||12||40||3.33||116 of 120||17||1.42||94 of 120|
|2010||12||51||4.25||119 of 120||23||1.92||67 of 120|
|2009||12||53||4.42||119 of 120||13||1.08||115 of 120|
|2008||13||43||3.31||116 of 119||18||1.38||96 of 119|
|2007||12||22||1.83||46 of 119||27||2.25||45 of 119|
|2006||12||29||2.42||86 of 119||36||3.00||10 of 119|
|2005||11||18||1.64||30 of 116||34||3.09||12 of 116|
The left side of the above table, the "Sacks Against" numbers, couldn't be any uglier. After a period of almost ten years of competent, if not high-quality pass protection, the Cougs now sport one of the worst five year runs that you'll find anywhere in Division I college football. A minimum of 40 sacks allowed in each of the last five years, with over 50 sacks allowed three times, including the "Uber-sackfest" known as the 2012 football season. If UW can sack WSU QBs three times next Friday, the Cougs will hit the 60 mark for the season. Not good.
On the defensive side of the ledger we're presented with some really good news. If this season you've said to yourself, "you know, this defense really isn't that bad and seems to be an improvement", you'd be right, at least with respect to sacking the opposing team's QB.
I did a double take when pulling up this year's sack data as I didn't realize the Cougs currently rank 11th in total sacks and sacks per game in 2012. In fact, if the D can come up with a few sacks against UW on Friday afternoon, this could be the best Cougar defensive in terms of sacking the QB since the 2005 team. Sure, we're not close to the Holiday Bowl or Rose Bowl defenses of ten years ago, but it's certainly a strong move in the right direction. Especially when you toss in the fact that last year's D could manage only about a sack and a half a game.
A hearty "Job well done" to the defensive coaching staff this season.
Bringing things back to the ugly side of the numbers, the path on the offensive side of the ball seems pretty clear: the Cougs need to, at a minimum, cut the sacks allowed by half. How quickly that process can occur is a pure guess, but I think we'd all agree there's just no path to offensive success when the line can't protect the QB, regardless of which QB is offered up for sacrifice.
Okay, one final chart. As I was digging through the numbers I thought, "perhaps the increase in sacks this year is simply due to throwing the ball more as compared to prior years." Specifically, my first thought when viewing the above data was "how can any line be worse than the 2008/2009 versions?" Turns out, this year's line is actually better than the 2008, 2009 and 2010 lines in terms of sacks per pass attempt which is just... scary. Or maybe a ray of hope.
Below are the sack totals summarized as Pass Attempts per Sack. (Updated with post-Apple Cup stats and clarified labels for Att/Sacks.)
|Year||WSU Pass Att||Sacks Against||Att/Sacks||Opp Pass Att||Sacks For||Att/Sacks|