USC Football has an amazing offense led by a Heisman contender and the best offensive schemer in America, but a defense that still lacks in many areas. Everybody who's watched USC Football this season knows this, and to illustrate it; USC is tied for top eight nationally in points per game (41) but tied for 51st nationally in points per game allowed (24).
What's wild, though, is that they might not even just have that strong disparity...They might actually even be polar opposites. Jack Smith of USCFootball.com found that USC is actually first in the country in offensive expected points added (EPA) per play, and 97th(!) in defensive expected points added per play. Read about that, and what PFF's EPA stat means via his Tweet thread below:
EPA is indeed an important stat. So many look at offensive and defensive yards per play because it helps measure efficiency in a MUCH more accurate way than simply judging an offense and defense by how many yards they're putting up or allowing. Points scored and points allowed is even more important than yardage, of course, due to points being what of course determines scores of games.
Therefore, a stat that quantifies efficiency to the extent of defining how many points an offense is scoring on a per-play basis, or how many points a defense is allowing on a per-play basis is of course incredibly helpful in defining the quality of offensive and defensive units. Seeing USC this special on offense is everything. Seeing them this bad on defense, however, is in fact concerning.
USC Football's offense and USC Football's defense truly do seem to be opposites of each other sometimes.
For instance, USC Football has been outstanding at running the ball this season. In fact, they're so outstanding that they're 14th in the country with 5.54 yards per carry. On defense, however, they're rather awful at stopping the run. So much to the point where they're 99th in rush yards allowed per carry (4.72).
A similar dynamic has been seen with the pass. They've generated 8.7 yards per pass attempt, which is 11th in America. SC defending the pass, though, has been disappointing. The team is tied for just 81st in pass yards allowed per attempt, at 7.29 yards per pass attempt surrendered. SC most certainly does not have an offense problem, but they do lack in the defense.
Perhaps the defense will get better once SC finally gets two of their three primary rotational linebackers in Eric Gentry and Ralen Goforth back, and starting Rush End Korey Foreman back. All three were out for last week's game, which was one of the worst defensive performances of the season (arguably THE worst). Both sides of the ball should be much healthier moving forward.