AUBURN, Ala. — It seems when Auburn redshirt freshman defensive end Nick Coe is involved in a play this season, it goes nowhere.
That observation has statistical backing after the Tigers’ first eight games of the 2017 season. According to Football Study Hall, Coe is the only SEC defender with double-digit tackles who has an opposing success rate of 0.0 percent.
What does that mean? A defender’s success rate is a measure of how successful the offense was on a play in which the defender made a tackle. A successful play in college football, according to FSH, is when an offense gets “50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third and fourth down.”
A defensive lineman is much more likely to have a better success rate than a linebacker or a defensive back, as linemen play closer to the line of scrimmage. More tackles usually mean a greater chance at a higher success rate. But Coe, a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, has avoided that.
On Coe’s 22 tackles this season — 11 solo and 11 assisted, which translates to a 16.5 tackle mark on the FSH site — the offense hasn’t had a single successful play, run or pass.
“Probably the biggest thing is that young guys, you can see pass rush early — the skill set to pass rush,” Auburn defensive end Kevin Steele said Tuesday night. “But the other thing is that he’s really improved his run game play, his technique on run blocks.”
That 0.0 success rate is rare in college football this late in the season. Not only is Coe the only SEC defender with that number on double-digit tackles, he’s one of only four in the nation’s top 40 teams per S&P+ ratings.
The other three are Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning and South Florida defensive end Mike Love. Coe has the most tackles from that group by a decent margin.
In the traditional stats, Coe has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 4 quarterback hurries this season. As Steele said Tuesday night, his impact goes beyond the standard box score.
“Some of the time, some of those sacks that other people got were affected by him,” Steele said. “They had to step up, they had to get away from him and somebody got them because they did. So, that’s been impressive.”
But the advanced stats are closer to what he’s brought to the team as a lineman who comes off the bench. Coe is tied for the team lead (8) in run stuffs — tackles on running plays that went for zero or negative yards. That’s the basis for a perfect success rate.
At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Coe has been able to make up for inexperience with his physical gifts. And after a strong start to his first season, Steele sees a bright future for this incredibly efficient end.
“People forget he’s a redshirt freshman,” Steele said. “This is his first year of college football. … But Nick has the athleticism and the tenacity that, even when he is a little bit off or makes a mistake, he can still make a play. That’s a credit to his athleticism and his work ethic and just fighting spirit, really.”