Rice Football prides itself on discipline and structure, but the Owls biggest gap on defense last season was their level of chaos.
At its very core, defense is built on chaos. College football offenses have never been more calculated and sophisticated than they are right now. When the quarterback takes the snap they have a well-defined objective and understanding for how each particular play should develop. The defense wants to throw off that equilibrium by injecting chaos.
The best measure of chaos is havoc rate. That statistic is the measure of havoc plays (forced fumbles, tackles for a loss and sacks, passes defended and interceptions) against the total number of defensive plays run. Defenses which produce the highest percentages of havoc plays throw off their opponent’s plans and give their own teams a better chance to win.
Rice finished last in CUSA in havoc rate last season, averaging roughly one havoc play every eight defensive snaps, a rate of 12.6 percent. That pales in comparison to the near 20 percent havoc rate of UAB.
|Rank||Team||Havoc Plays||Havoc Rate||Fumbles Forced||TFL||Passes Defended|
Havoc rate serves as a powerful proxy for overall defensive effectiveness. 10 of the 14 CUSA teams finished with a difference of two ranking spots or less between their total defense rank and their havoc rate rank (e.g. Rice ranked 14th in havoc rate and 13th in total defense, while Old Dominion ranked 10th in havoc rate and 14th in total defense).
A second year in defensive coordinator Brian Smith’s scheme and some intriguing young talent will position Rice to grow in this area in 2019. For a team as dedicated to structure and process as the Owls are, it’s time to introduce a bit of chaos.