Gary Doran

Advanced Stats Report: Washington State

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For the eighth game of the 2016 season, the Devils host the Washington State Cougars for the final home game in the month of October. The Cougars will be the second North Division team to visit Sun Devil Stadium this season.

ASU and Washington State have played each other a total of 43 times over the years, with ASU leading the series 27-14 with two tie games. The two teams have played the last 19 years in a row dating back to 1997. In those 19 years, ASU leads the series 14-5. Under head coaches Todd Graham and Mike Leach, the teams have played each other four times with ASU winning three of the games with an average score of 44.3 to 24.3. As a note, the Cougars have been able to score more points against the Devil in each of the last three games.

Below are the stats from last year: (2015 Record, Overall: 9-4 – Conference: 6-3)

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION

Offense– It has been eleven years since Washington State had a player rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season (Jerome Harrison)
– The Cougar offense scored just eight rushing touchdowns in almost 300 carries in 2015
– The average yards per carry decreased in each month of the regular season last year
– In the second half of their games last season, the Cougars only scored one rushing touchdown
– Last season was the first time the Cougars had an average yards per carry for the season over 3.00 in Mike Leach’s four years in Pullman (3.56)
– In the four games between the Devils and the Cougars during Mike Leach’s tenure, WSU has only scored  two rushing touchdowns in 71 carries
– Last season, on third and short, WSU averaged passing the ball two times as often as it ran the ball
– Last season, even though the Cougars had the lowest yards per carry average in the conference, they were  fourth in the percentage of run plays that went for ten yards or more
– On third down last year, the Cougars averaged running the ball only about one in every five plays
– In seven of the 13 games last year, WSU did not score a rushing touchdown in 145 carries
– Only nine carries in 2015 went for twenty yards or more; in 2014 only three went for twenty yards or  more
– In 2015, WSU was last in the conference in the percentage of running plays that gained a first down
– Against two ranked opponents last year, the Cougars averaged 4.23 yards per carry, while against eleven  unranked opponents they averaged 3.41
– In the four season under Mike Leach, WSU has run the ball 1,032 time and has not had a carry over 50  yards
– Last season, WSU threw almost 200 more passes than the next closest team in the conference, and  completed almost 150 more than the next closest team
– In each of the four seasons under Mike Leach, WSU has led the conference in the number of pass  attempts and completions, but has only been first the passing yards the past two seasons
– In 2015, Washington State was ninth in the conference in the average yards per pass attempt
– In the past two seasons, the Cougars have averaged 43 touchdown passes per season; by comparison, during the same time ASU has averaged 32
– In 2015 home games, the Cougars threw an interception once every 39.6 pass attempts, whereas in road  games, it was only one every 105.3 pass attempts
– In four of the nine conference games last season, WSU threw five or more touchdown passes
– Over the last four years, the pass completion rate has decreased each month of the season, except for one  time in 2013
– In Mike Leach’s first year in Pullman, there were three games where the Cougars did not complete a  touchdown pass, in the next year, there was only one game, and over the past two season, WSU has  completed a touchdown pass in single every game
– In the first two years under Mike Leach, WSU averaged throwing an interception once every 30.6 pass  attempts, in the past two seasons, the average was 50.3 pass attempts
– In the first half of their games last year, WSU threw only one interception, and eleven in the second half
– Last season, WSU only threw one interception on third down and none within their opponents’ red zone
– In the past two seasons, the Cougars have thrown 63 touchdown passes and no interceptions from within  their opponents’ red zone
– Last year, WSU passed the ball 28 times on fourth down and got a first down over 64-percent of those  pass attempts
– On third down and long last year, WSU had the fourth highest completion percentage in the conference
– Last year when WSU was ahead in a game, they completed 65.4-percent of their passes and threw seven  interceptions, when they were behind, they completed 66.5% of their passes with five interceptions;  however, when the game was tied, WSU completed 76.7-percent of their passes with no interceptions
– In each of the four seasons under Mike Leach, the completion percentage in conference games has  increased
– In the past three seasons, WSU has been seventh or sixth in the conference in converting third downs to first downs
– In Mike Leach’s first year at WSU, the Cougars placed eleventh in the conference in the percentage of red  zone touchdown scored to their opportunities, in the second year, they placed eighth, then in the third  year, they placed fifth, and last year, they were third in the conference
– Over the past three years, WSU has been last in the conference in the number of turnovers they lose

DEFENSIVE OUTPUT

Defense– In the past three seasons, WSU has been tenth, eighth and ninth in the conference in the average yards per carry they allow
– In the seven road games last year, the Cougars allowed an average of almost five-and-a-half yards per carry
– Last year, the Cougars gave up 92 rushing plays that went for ten yards or more, while in the three  previous years, they allowed an average of only 60 plays
– The nine rushing touchdowns and 25 carries that gained ten yards or more the Cougars gave up in the  fourth quarter of their games last season was the most allowed in the conference
– Only UCLA gave up more first downs from a third down running play then WSU last season
– In five of the nine conference games last year, the WSU defense gave up three rushing touchdowns
– The 21 opponent red zone rushing touchdowns scored last season was the most WSU has allowed in the four years under Mike Leach, and the 4.93 yards per carry average yielded was also the highest over the  past four years
– Last year when the Cougars were ahead in a game, they surrendered 16 of the total 24 rushing  touchdowns allowed in the season
– Last year, WSU played two ranked teams and surrendered an average of over seven yards per carry  against them
– Last year, WSU was ranked second in the conference in the number of touchdowns they allowed at 13, in the three previous years, the fewest they allowed in a season was 23
– Last season, WSU was eleventh in the conference in the percentage of passes they allowed to be  completed, but only third in the total passing yards they gave up
– In six home games last year, the WSU defense only gave up three touchdown passes, while in 2014, they  allowed 23 touchdown passes in six home games
– In the last five games of the season last year, WSU only surrendered one touchdown pass in facing almost  200 pass attempts
– Last season, the longest pass play the Cougars allowed was only 45 yards, which was the best in the  conference
– Last year, the Cougars were second in the conference in giving up the fewest number of pass completions covering fifteen yards or more
– Last year when the Cougars were trailing in the game, their pass defense did not surrender a touchdown pass
– Last year, the WSU defense did not give up a touchdown pass to five straight conference foes to end the regular season
– In 2015, WSU gave up the third fewest red zone touchdown passes in the conference with ten, while in 2014, they surrendered 18
– Almost half the interceptions the Cougar defense snagged happened in the fourth quarter
– In 2015, the WSU defense ranked tenth in the conference in the percentage of third down conversions they allowed
– In 2015, the WSU defense was ranked sixth in the conference in the percentage of red zone touchdown passes they gave up compared to the red zone opportunities their opponents had
– In 2015, WSU was fourth in the conference in the number of takeaways they captured
– In the four years of Mike Leach’s tenure at WSU, the Cougars have not had a season with a positive turnover ratio (2015 was the best at -1)

WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN

As the numbers point out, the running game is not going to be a highlight of a Mike Leach team. Last year, the run game accounted for only 28.5-percent of the plays, 17.1-percent of the yards gained and 16.3-percent of the offensive touchdowns scored. Even on third down short yardage situations, the Cougars threw the ball twice as often as they ran it.

The numbers also point out that although the Cougars have been passing the ball with abounding frequency since Mike Leach arrived, over the past two years they have been much more efficient in critical third down and red zone situations. Throwing 63 red zone touchdown passes with no interceptions over the past two seasons is huge. It’s also noteworthy that the pass completion percentage has increased each year in conference play.

The Cougars did get a little sloppy in the second half of their games last year, and have seen their pass completion percentages fade each month as the season progresses. Could this be an easing up by the offense, or better adjustments against the Cougars as teams see more of them.

The run defense for WSU over the past two years has been overall below average, with a little more wear and tear showing up this past season. The run defense also seemed to a little more generous relative it to their peers in the latter stages of their games.

If you want to point to an area that helped WSU improve in it win-loss record in 2015, then look no further than its pass defense. Although it gave up a lot of pass completions, few went for long distances or touchdowns. They also clamped down last season on surrendering critical red zone touchdown passes.

Source:  cfbstats.com and Winsipedia.com

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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