Chart: The most improved rushing defenses of 2016

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 19, 2017

- Eastern Michigan and Idaho stand far above the results, and the results were obvious. EMU reached a bowl game for the first time since 1987, while Idaho reached its first since 2009. Both had been among the nation’s worst programs, but their turnaround seasons started with stopping the run. EMU was dead last nationally in both stats in 2015. Credit defensive coordinators Neal Neathery at EMU and Mike Breske at Idaho.

- 7 of these teams are also among the most improved scoring defenses: UCF, EMU, Idaho, Indiana, Tulsa, Miami and Auburn.

- 14 of the 17 biggest improvements in YPC reached a bowl game. UNLV, Cincinnati and Ball State did not, but UNLV and Ball State did improve on 2015's win total.

- 8 of the most improved in YPC had a new play-caller in 2016: EMU (Neal Neathery), Miami (Manny Diaz), Indiana (Tom Allen), ULL (Mike Lucas), UCF (Erik Chinander), Cincinnati (Robert Prunty), Ball State (Tim Daoust) and Auburn (Kevin Steele).

- 4 of the most improved in YPC will have a new play-caller in 2017: Western Kentucky, Colorado, Cincinnati and Ball State. Indiana could also be here if Tom Allen doesn’t call plays as head coach.

- 11 schools are among the most improved in YPC and YPG: EMU, Idaho, Ohio, Miami, WKU, ULL, Colorado, Tulsa, Wazzu, Ball State and Auburn.

2017 offseason studies

Most improved scoring offenses

Most improved scoring defenses

Most improved rushing offenses

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to