The Sun Devils head to San Antonio, Texas to face the UTSA Roadrunners for their first road game of the season, and their final non-conference game of 2016. The presents the opportunity for ASU to win back-to-back games against teams from the state of Texas, a highly targeted recruiting area under coach Todd Graham. This week, ASU may not be facing as prolific of an offense as the previous week; let’s see what the stats reveal about the Roadrunner offense and defense.
This Week’s Stat 12-Pack
1. In last week’s game against Colorado State, UTSA had more punting yards than total offensive yards
2. Sixty percent of the time UTSA had a ten-play drives in the first quarter, they did not score a point
3. Over the past three seasons, each year, the UTSA offense has relied more and more on its ground game
4. UTSA only completed one touchdown pass in the first quarter of all their games, while throwing six interceptions
5. In eight of their twelve games last year, UTSA threw for less than 200 yards passing
6. Three of the five UTSA red zone passes thrown so far this year have been touchdowns
7. In the first quarter last season, the UTSA defense caused as many turnovers as offensive touchdowns given up
8. Last year, the second quarter was the quarter when UTSA gave up the most touchdowns, and when ASU scored the most touchdowns
9. The UTSA defense only allowed about half the red zone opportunities to become touchdowns last year
10. In the first half of their games last season, UTSA threw more interceptions than touchdown passes
11. In the three games they won last year, the UTSA defense gave up only one rushing touchdown
12. Roughly twice as many points scored against UTSA came off a turnover compared to ASU
Decoding the Stats
Statistically speaking, the game against the Roadrunners does not appear to be a big challenge, but so many teams this early season have been beaten by opponents that didn’t seem to match up on paper. It’s also a road game right before the start of conference play against an opponent that has yet to find its stride, so it could be wrought with pitfalls.
After facing passing teams that had generated 3,329 and 5,046 passing yards last season, this week, the Devils will be facing an offense that isn’t so daunting in the passing game. It’s also the first time this year they will face a team that has run the ball more than they have passed it. UTSA is also a team that averaged less than one and a half touchdown passes per game in 2015.
The Roadrunner offense has scored over 35 points in a game only one time since 2014. Additionally, they have been held under 15 points a game almost 40-percent of their games since 2014, and less than 100 yards rushing per game in 20-percent of their games over the same period. Clearly, at this point, they are not an offensive juggernaut.
The UTSA offense has had a turnover in 24 of their last 26 games, losing 25 fumbles and throwing 25 interceptions in that time. That’s a reason why almost 30-percent of the points surrendered by the Roadrunner defense in 2015 came from their offense’s turnovers. On paper, this should be an offense that the aggressive ASU defense could take advantage of in generating turnovers. As a note, so far this year, the Devil defense has only caused two turnovers in two games.
A strength of the UTSA defense may be its pass defense, where the Roadrunners have kept opponent passing completion rates under 60-percent in eight of the last 14 games. Additionally, they have only surrendered one touchdown pass so far this year and less than 150 yards per game so far this year. They also limited the red zone pass completion rate to under 45-percent last season. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, the 2016 Devil offense is currently powered, by its running game.
While UTSA has only gotten one fumble recovery so far this year, they did generate seven turnovers in the last three games of the year in 2015. However, over the past 14 games, UTSA has not gotten an interception in eight of those games. Four of their 14 interceptions for the season last year came against one team.
Last week, Texas Tech’s greatest strength was played against one of ASU’s biggest weaknesses, and the Devils survived. This week is just the opposite, many of the strengths for ASU appear to be matched well against the UTSA Roadrunners. That should play well for the Devils in their final non-conference game of 2016. It seems that the stats are telling us that this could end up being a nice visit to the Lone Star State for ASU, at least statistically speaking.