The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a drive-based rating system for college football, which offers a different look from most of the systems that get publicity due to its possession-based approach. More interesting than the overall ratings, though, are the drive statistics Fremeau publishes along with his ratings; in spite of possessions being the most important unit of play in many ways, there are very few sources for statistics on how they turn out. Let's dive in!
The defense grades out extraordinarily well overall at #7 in the country. True to Mike Hankwitz's bend-but-don't-break philosophy, NU has allowed the lowest rate of explosive drives (drives with 10+ yards per play) in the country at a mere 1.6%; for a comparison, that scrub Saban's Alabama team allows explosive drives on 6.8% of opponent drives, merely the 18th best rate. The defense also does well at keeping opponents out of the endzone, with 14.8% of opposing possessions ending in a touchdown, the 13th best rate. The leader in that stat is some state school from Ohio, I think we're probably safe from them as they must play in the MAC or something.
The defense's weaknesses are also a testament to style: it's a respectable but not dominating 30th in the rate of drives that get at least one first down (including scoring a touchdown) and a downright poor 78th in the percentage of drives that gain zero or fewer yards. More interesting given some Fitz comments is that it's 81st in the percentage of drives ended by turnovers, at only 9.8%; this would surpass 2010 as the worst rate and ranking of Mike Hankwitz's tenure if it continued all season. The difference between this year's rate and a more typical for NU 14% is only a turnover every couple games, but with a 13-10 loss and a 17-7 loss that was 10-7 in the last minute a couple more turnovers could have made a big difference.
The offensive stats make a counterintuitive case for Northwestern's attack.
Just kidding, they're uniformly terrible, even in the ball control areas some people argue are the real objective of Northwestern's offense. Northwestern has played the 10th most difficult schedule in the country against FEI, which I'm sure will get easier soon with the (checks defensive ratings) 2nd and 5th defenses coming up in the next two weeks, so some depressed production is to be expected. The rankings are still an absolute bloodbath, though
128th in touchdown rate and 126th in explosive drives should be unsurprising with how poor Northwestern's offense have been, unless you expected worse. Even ball control measures are terrible, though: NU only picks up a first down on 62.1% of drives, 114th in the country, and turns the ball over on 18.2% of drives, 120th in the country. Across the board, NU is reaching new lows in these as well as more traditional statistics.
In conclusion, exile McCall to a regime of hard labor casting a statue of Hank.