We've already covered defensive sack rates to help determine who rushed the quarterback the best in 2007, so we'll now turn to offensive sack rates to help determine which teams protected the passer the best in 2007.
As was the case with total defensive sacks created, offensive sacks allowed on its own is a pretty meaningless number, and only takes on real meaning when you put it into the context of pass attempts. Long story short, a team that gives up a lot of sacks can be a relatively good pass blocking team, and a team that gives up only a few sacks can in fact be a relatively poor pass blocking team, depending on how many passes they have thrown against them.
So, what I have done is taken the total number of sacks allowed by a particular team in SEC play in 2006, and divided that by the total number of pass attempts by the same team. That division yields a percentage of passing plays that I call Adjusted Sack Rate, which of course is the percentage of passes that resulted in a sack.
The following is how the SEC ranked in terms of Adjusted Sack Rate in 2007:
One other metric to consider is the average yards lost per sack. It goes without saying that all sacks are not created equal; some sacks have big losses of yardage, while others often lose very few yards. So let's look at the SEC in 2007 in terms of average yards lost per sack:
Now some general thoughts on a few teams...
- As I mentioned earlier in the column on defensive sack rates, I don't have much in the way of historical data with this metric, but it's hard to imagine a lower ASR than what Tennessee posted in 2007. To throw the football over 300 times and only be sacked twice is almost hard to even believe possible. And the interesting thing about it is that the Tennessee offensive line isn't considered to be that good, it just goes to show you the importance of a quarterback who doesn't hold onto the ball too long. And as for finishing last in average yards lost per sack, I wouldn't read much into that. With such a small sample size, that number really doesn't mean much of anything.
- LSU finished sixth in ASR, and that was a fair bit lower than I expected. Everyone talks about LT Ciron Black like he will be a future top ten pick, Brett Helms is largely regarded as one of the best centers in the country, and there is no more hyped guard in the league than Herman Johnson. Considering that Flynn was a pretty bright quarterback who knew the value of getting rid of the football quickly, and combined with the fact that the six sack performance against Tulane is not accounted for here, I expected LSU to be one of the very best pass protection teams, but the numbers showed them to be quite average.
- Alabama finished eighth in ASR, and I was actually fairly surprised by that. Everyone loves to piss and moan about the offensive line, but aside from a couple of really bad performances (see Ole Miss and LSU), the guys up front actually pass blocked really well. Taking away those two games, in the other six conference games we gave up only 8 sacks on 215 pass attempts, good for a quite low ASR of around only 3.7%. That's very surprising to me. Again, there's really no reason we should protect the passer very well. We have a quarterback who holds onto the ball too long, a lack of athleticism at the tackle position, and -- as a result of an inconsistent running game and a quarterback who completes a low percentages of his passes -- we are constantly facing obvious passing situations. Nevertheless, despite that and despite every complaining about how terrible the line is, aside from two disasters, the offensive line actually did a very good job in the other six conference games.
- Auburn finished almost dead last in ASR, and it was to be expected. Brandon Cox held onto the ball too long, and had all of the mobility of a piece of Civil War era artillery. Combine that with true freshmen starting on the offensive line, and it's a formula for a very high ASR. With the maturation of the offensive line in 2008, plus the addition of more mobile quarterbacks with an OC who stresses getting rid of the football quickly, don't expect this trend to continue.