Gary Doran

Advanced Stats Report: Arizona Wildcats


ASU finishes off the 2016 season with its in-state rival the Arizona Wildcats in the annual Territorial Cup game. Over the long rivalry, the Wildcats lead the series 48-40, with one tie game. Below is a breakdown of the win-loss records by ASU coaching staffs, and by decade in the Pac-10 & Pac-12 era:

Before entering Pac-10/Pac-12…………….(23-28)………45.1%
Since joining Pac-10/Pac-12…………………(17-20-1)……45.9%

Kush…………….(1-1)                        1970’s Decade………………………….(1-1)
Rogers………….(2-3)                        1980’s Decade………………………….(2-7-1)
Cooper…………(0-2-1)                     1990’s Decade………………………….(4-6)
Marmie………..(1-3)                        2000’s Decade………………………….(6-4)
Snyder…….……(4-5)                       2010 to Present………….…………….(4-2)

Only two of the eight coaches above had a winning record against the Wildcats, (Koetter and Graham). On a positive note for Sun Devil fans, ASU was 16-6 overall under Frank Kush, and even better 15-3 under Kush from 1963 to 1979. After Kush left, the bad news: ASU recorded a 16-19-1 record, the good news: over the last three coaching regimes, the Devils have been 9-6.

Here are stats from the 2015 season: (2015 Record, Overall: 7-6 – Conference: 3-6)


– Last year, Arizona was seventh in the conference in the number of rushing attempts, but third in total  rushing yards and touchdowns
– Arizona was second or tied for second in the number of rushing touchdowns in each of the first three  years of coach Rich Rodriguez’s tenure
– Last year was the first season Arizona didn’t have a running back gain 1,000 yards or more under coach Rich  Rodriguez
– Last season, the Arizona running game averaged 6.53 yards per carry while playing at home and 4.44 in  games on the road, which was the highest in Coach Rodriguez’s four years at Arizona
– In 2012 and 2013 combined, the Arizona running game averaged 5.25 yards per carry while scoring 41  touchdowns in conference play, whereas in 2014 and 2015 combined, the yards per carry average was 4.40  with 34 rushing touchdowns
– In 2012 and 2013 combined, Arizona scored 69 rushing touchdowns, while in 2014 and 2015 combined  they scored 57 rushing touchdowns
– Last year, the average yards per carry decreased in each month of the regular season, (Sep-7.2, Oct-5.1,  Nov-3.3)
– In the first four games of the regular season last year, Arizona scored 13 rushing touchdowns, while in the  last four games of the regular season they only scored two
– Last year, more than half of Arizona’s rushing touchdowns came against three teams, (NAU, Oregon State  and New Mexico)
– In 2015, Arizona only scored two rushing touchdowns on third down
– In both 2012 and 2013, Arizona ranked fifth in the conference in the yards per carry within their  opponents’ red zones, whereas in the past two years, they have ranked tenth both years
– Last year, Arizona scored 20 rushing touchdowns when they were ahead in the game and ten when they  were behind
– Over the last four seasons, the average yards per carry on third down for Arizona has decreased each year
– In 2013 and 2014, Arizona was sixth in the conference in the number of running play to gain ten yards or  more, while last year, they were second
– Last season when Arizona ran the ball from within their own 40-yard line, they average 7.1 yards per  carry, which was the highest average in Rich Rodriguez’s tenure
– Arizona was been eighth in 2012, ninth in 2013, twelfth in 2014 and eleventh last year in the conference  in pass completion percentage
– In the past three seasons, Arizona has been no higher than sixth in the conference in the number  of  touchdown passes thrown
– In four non-conference games last year, Arizona threw twelve touchdown passes and only one  interception, while in nine conference games they threw 15 touchdown passes and nine interceptions
– In the first eight games last season, Arizona only threw one interception, whereas in the last five games  they threw nine interceptions
– In each month of the season last year, the completion percentage decreased
– In three of the last four seasons, Arizona had its lowest completion percentage and threw the most  interceptions in November
– Last season, Arizona was eleventh in the conference in pass completion percentage on third down, and  has been no higher than ninth in the last four years
– Over the past two seasons, Arizona has been seventh both years in the conference in the number of pass  completions that cover fifteen yards or more
– Last year, Arizona had it best percentage of third down passes that gained a first down in the Rich  Rodriguez era
– Last season, when Arizona was ahead in their games they threw 14 touchdown passes and three  interceptions, whereas when they were behind, they threw for eight touchdown passes and six  interceptions
– In the last four games against ASU, the Wildcats have thrown eight interceptions and seven touchdown  passes
– In the first nine games last year, Arizona only threw for over 300 passing yards twice, whereas in their  last four games they threw for over 300 yards all four times
– Arizona was sixth last year in converting third downs into first downs
– Arizona was sixth last year in the percentage of red zone opportunities they turn into touchdowns
– Last year, Arizona was seventh in the conference in the number of turnovers they lost with 20, which was the most since 2012

Defense– Only one conference team faced more running plays than Arizona last year, but no conference team gave up more rushing touchdowns
– Each month of the regular season last year, the Wildcats gave up a higher and higher yards per carry
– Six teams last year scored three or more rushing touchdowns against Arizona
– In the last five games of the year in 2015, Arizona surrendered 200 yards or more on the ground
– Last year, the Arizona run defense was most effective in the first quarter in registering the lowest yards per carry in a quarter, the fewest rushing first downs and fewest touchdowns
– In 2012, Arizona was eleventh in the conference in yards per carry allowed on third down, in 2013 they were tenth, in 2014 the Wildcats were third and last year they finished fifth
– Last year, Arizona ranked eleventh in the conference in the yards per carry they allowed in their red zone, and tied for eleventh in the number of red zone rushing touchdowns they gave up
– Last year when Arizona was ahead, they gave up a rushing touchdown an average of once every 30.5  carries, whereas when they were behind the average dropped to once every 12.1 carries
– In the four Territorial Cup games, ASU has an average yards per carry of 4.22 and has had 12 rushing touchdowns scored against the Wildcats
– In the last four years, the Wildcat run defense has surrendered 9,834 rushing yards, which is an average yards per carry of 4.32
– In the last four years, Arizona has not ranked higher than seventh in the conference in the average yards per carry in conference play
– Last year, Arizona was eighth in the conference in the percentage of pass completions they allowed, ninth  in both total passing yards allowed and average yards per pass attempt and tenth in both touchdowns given up and interceptions gained
– Arizona got five of their total eleven interceptions last year in the final three games
– Last year, the Wildcat pass defense only made three interception in conference play in facing a total of 316 pass attempts
– In their six losses last year, the Wildcat only intercepted one pass
– Last season, Arizona faced the fewest pass attempts over the past four years, and ended tenth in the conference in the average number of passes per touchdown pass allowed
– Twenty of the 28 touchdown passes the Wildcats surrendered last season happened in the first half, along with 63-percent of first down pass receptions
– Only two of the eleven interceptions last year happened when the Wildcats were trailing in the game
– An average of one out of every ten passes the Wildcats faced in the second quarter last year went for a  touchdown
– In three of the last four seasons, Arizona has been ninth or worse in the conference in the number of  touchdowns they have given up
– Arizona was last in 2015 in the percentage of times they allowed opponents to convert third downs into  first downs; over the past four season, the Wildcats have placed no higher than ninth in the conference in  this category
– Arizona was last in the conference last year in the percentage of times they allowed a red zone touchdown  to be scored when an opponent got into their red zone
– Arizona was tenth in the conference last year in the number of takeaways they got; it was also the second  time in four years they ended the season with a negative turnover margin

The numbers point to an explosive run game in the Wildcat offensive attack, however, it has fallen a little since the departure of NFL-bound running back Ka’Deem Carey. It ran the ball extremely well from within its own 40-yard line, but wasn’t as effective on third down or red zone runs as it was with Carey in the backfield.

One point to keep in mind when looking at the Arizona rushing numbers from 2015 is how much better the stats were against the non-conference teams as compared to their conference peers. The Wildcats still run the ball very well, but if the non-conference stats are included, the overall run game gets a bit inflated. This also highlights how Arizona does better in the run game when they are the superior team, or have the lead on an opponent.

Arizona’s passing game isn’t quite as stellar as its running game. Over the Rich Rodriguez era, the Arizona passing game has been somewhat average in a lot of the statistical categories, but better than average in the all-important touchdown pass reception category. The passing game seems to fade a bit as the season wears along, which is a big benefit for ASU with its end-of-the-year Territorial Cup game against the Wildcats. Arizona has also seen its effectiveness wane a bit over the past few years on critical third down passes.

Over the four years under Rich Rodriguez, the Arizona’s run defense has placed roughly in the lower half of the conference in most defensive rushing categories. The run defense also seemed to fade as the season progressed last year in terms of yards per carry. The Wildcat run defense also had trouble when their opponents got into the Arizona red zone.

Last year, the Arizona pass defense was in the lower half of the conference in most pass defense categories, but wasn’t at the bottom, like ASU. What hurt the Wildcat defense was their weakness in all three major categories: the running game, the passing game and the lack of takeaways. That trifecta made the Wildcat defense a liability. Will all those of three issues be resolved by the end of the 2016 season, only time will tell.

Source: and

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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