Goal setting is something that we place a great emphasis on in our program. Defensively we have 22 predetermined team goals that we strive to reach in each game. Tabulating individual defensive points helps us evaluate each player's performance and also allows us to evaluate our defensive effectiveness as a group. An overview of our defensive performances since 1990 has revealed a very interesting point.

The game of football basically will come down to one thing: the offense runs a play and the defense must tackle the ball carrier or else a touchdown is scored. In our point system a defender will score 3 points for an original tackle on any defensive play or a "defensive" special team. These include kick off, punt return and PAT-field goal block. If an offense runs 40 offensive plays (excluding kicks) we will need to make 40 tackles if we are to keep them from scoring a touchdown. This translates to 120 defensive points (3 points for each tackle). However, as we know, football games are usually decided by more than just making a simple tackle.

In order to win a game the defense must do one thing; it must outplay the opponent's defense. Most games are decided in favor of the team whose defense does more than just tackle the ball carrier. The team whose defense intercepts more passes, breaks up more passes, causes and recovers more fumbles, has more quarterback sacks and hurries, blocks more kicks and scores more defensive touchdowns will usually win the game. As such, we have devised a method of calculating a defensive efficiency rating that will be a good predictor of winning or losing.

Our defensive efficiency rating is calculated by taking the total number of defensive points scored by each defensive participant and dividing this number by the number of offensive plays run by our opponent. For example, if our defense scores 200 defensive points and our opponents run 60 plays the efficiency rating will be .33. In researching our past defensive performances we discovered an interesting result. It appears that the magic number is .34. When we are able to score a defensive efficiency rating of .34 or higher our chances of winning are very good. When we score .33 or below our chances of winning are greatly diminished.

Our research revealed the following. In 1999 and 2000 our defense scored .34 or above 11 times. Of these eleven games we won 9 and lost 2. Conversely, our defense scored .33 or less 12 times and of these twelve games we won 4 and lost 8. Because we were intrigued by this result, we went back and reviewed our defensive performances in 1993 and 1994, two years that we made back to back CIF Championship appearances. During this time we accumulated a record of 24 wins and 2 losses. The research revealed that our record in games that we scored .34 or above was 20 wins and 1 loss. In games that we scored .33 or below our record was 4 wins and 1 loss. We lost two games during this stretch and one of these games was the CIF Championship game against Uni where we had a defensive efficiency rating of .33! If we include our 2001 season we will find that during this five season span our combined win-loss record for games that we scored .34 or above is 30 wins and 6 losses. For games that we scored .33 or below our combined record is 8 wins and 16 losses.

Something that must be factored into this formula are the number of turnovers that we commit on offense and the number of defensive mental mistakes that we accumulate. Offensive turnovers and mental mistakes are something that will diminish our chances of winning even if we score .34 or above. That is why it is so important to play together as a TEAM. A team needs both an offense and defense working together to reach a common goal. This is why we must be supportive of each other even if it appears that one group isn't doing their part. Sometimes simply moving the chains and allowing the defense to maintain good field position will be sufficient to allow us to reach our ultimate goal: to win.

The difference between an efficiency rating of .33 and .34 is just a few points. It can be a tackle here or there. It might be an interception or a hurry that might at the time seem to be insignificant. It can come in many forms. This is why it is so important to play every down at full speed. A player who gets a last frame point is detracting from our final defensive point total. Don't be the defender that causes a .34 to become a .33. Remember what we say. Some time during each game there will be a crucial moment where the outcome of a contest will be decided by the ability or failure to make a critical play. It could be a crucial 3rd or 4th down play. This defining moment might come at the start of the third quarter or sometime during the fourth quarter. It might be on the opening drive of the game. You never know when that moment might present itself so you must play every play as if it is the play that will convert a .33 into a .34. You can never take a play off. Taking a play off might knock you out of the playoffs.

So remember, the magic number is .34. Every single point is important so don't take anything for granted. The assisted tackle point that you get might be the point that gets us over the top.

NOTE: Below you will find a graph that will tell you how many points are needed to reach our goal of attaining a defensive efficiency rating of .34 or better. The first column indicates the number of plays run by the opponent. The second column tells you how many base points are needed in relationship to the number of plays defended (this total will result in a .33 rating). The third column tells you how many additional points are needed to reach an efficiency rating of .34. The last column will give you the total points needed in order to reach our goal.