There's one sharp contrast between Texas Longhorns head football coach Charlie Strong and new head men's basketball coach Shaka Smart -- while the latter is all about creating havoc, the former places much less of an emphasis on it.
Instead, Strong fielded the nation's No. 14 unit in defensive efficiency by avoiding giving up big plays, as Texas tied for first nationally in allowing only three plays of 40 or more yards all season. However, in Bill Connelly's havoc rate, which measures the percentage of plays that end in a tackle for loss (including sacks), forced fumble, or tipped/intercepted pass, the Longhorns ranked No. 75, producing such plays on only 15.2% of the time.
Here's where Texas ranked in those individual statistics:
|Type of play
Interestingly enough, former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz ranked No. 3 nationally in havoc rate with his Louisiana Tech defense.
The two styles -- the hyper-aggressive Diaz and the more conservative Strong -- represent vastly different but, in whole, equally efficient approaches to playing defense. Where Strong believes that opponents aren't capable of moving the ball down the field in consistently small chunks, Diaz is willing to take more gambles in order to create the havoc plays that tend to kills drives.
To provide some substance for that claim about Strong, the Horns ranked No. 8 in explosive drives (the percentage of each opponent offense's drives that average at least 10 yards per play) and No. 89 in methodical drives (the percentage of each opponent offense's drives that run 10 or more plays).
Now the question for Strong and his defensive staff coming into 2015 is whether they can coax more game-changing turnovers from the team, especially forced fumbles, without sacrificing the big plays that the head coach seems unwilling to concede, even if the benefit is more drive-killing stops behind the line of scrimmage.
How much does havoc rate correlate with success? Quite highly it seems, as six of the 10 best teams in havoc rate also finished in the top 10 in DFEI. The other four all ranked among the next 10 teams in DFEI.
So in order to field a top-10 defense in 2015, the Longhorns will almost certainly have to produce a much greater rate of havoc. Perhaps Strong should take some advice from his counterpart in the basketball offices.