Gary Doran

Grading the Pac-12 Passing: Week 2


To help broaden the perspective of the effectiveness in each team’s passing attack within the Pac-12 Conference, we’ve been working on a few new passing metrics.  The metric helps to assign three different levels of “quality” to each type of completed pass, and then categorizes the completed passes into one of the three categories. So the use of this metric is only to measure the “quality” of the passes completed.  Additionally, if a completion has more than one quality attributed to it, that completion only counts as a single quality entry. For instance, if a pass completion is for a touchdown that covered 30 yards, even though it had two quality outcomes, it still counts a one quality completion.

Here are the three categories and what constitutes each:

Premium Completions:

  • A pass completion for a touchdown
  • A pass completion converting a third or fourth down play into a first down
  • A pass completion of 25 yards or more

Quality Completions:

  • A pass completion that gets a first down, but wasn’t for a touchdown, was less than 25 yards and wasn’t a third or fourth down conversion pass play.

Standard Completions:

  • A pass completion that did not get a touchdown
  • A pass completion that did not convert a third or fourth down
  • A pass completion that did not gain 25 yards or more
  • A pass completion that did not get a first down

Using this new classification metric lets see how the teams stack up after week two. Just remember that in the early part of the season, the quality numbers should look a lot better than later on in the season when conference play kicks in.

Pac-12 South Completion Grades


USC and Utah have both completed about 75 percent of their pass attempts through two games, however, there is a big difference in the quality of passes each team completes. In the case of the Utah completions, nearly 60 percent of the passes the Utah quarterbacks have completed have not registered anything but a completion. On the other hand, 66 percent of the completions for USC have been either a touchdown, a third or fourth down conversion, a 25+ yard completion or a first down.

On the other end of the scale, Colorado has experience a low level of completions, compared to its South Division rivals, and has only seen about 40 percent of the completions as quality completion outcomes. As a comparison, ASU and Arizona have both seen about half of their completions end up as quality pass completions. The difference is that the Arizona quarterbacks have completed a higher percentage of their passes than ASU. If you throw out the two for eleven passing performance for Jerry Neuheisel, then Josh Rosen’s overall completion percentage and quality completion ratings are similar to those of the ASU and Arizona quarterbacks.

Pac-12 North Completion Grades


In the North Division, California and Washington State quarterbacks are completing a high percentage of their passes, but there is a big difference in the quality of the completions. In the case of the Cal Bears, when they have thrown a pass, about 46 percent of the time the pass attempt ended up in with quality outcome. In the case of Washington State, only about a third of their pass attempts end up getting a quality outcome. That means two out of every three passes that the Cougars have attempted either have been an incompletion or just a standard completion without any quality outcome.

Oregon State is seeing a quality outcome on over half of their pass completions. The only problem is that the Beavers have only completed half of their pass attempts. Stanford is in the same boat with 55 percent of their completions getting quality outcomes, but completing less than 60 percent of their passes.

Pac-12 South Defensive Completion Grades


The Utah Utes defense has allowed the highest percentage of pass completions and also quality pass completions in the South Division. At the other end of the spectrum, the Colorado, UCLA and USC defenses have only allowed an average of one out of four pass attempts to end up with a quality outcome. ASU is not that far behind those three defenses in limiting quality outcomes per pass attempt. The Arizona Wildcat defense has allowed the second highest percentage of quality pass completions per pass attempts in the division.

Pac-12 North Defensive Completion Grades


Final Thoughts

When you look at what the California and Oregon State defenses have given up in the percentage of pass completions, there is a big difference, however, the OSU defense has actually given up a smaller percentage of quality pass completions than the Bear defense. On average, almost two out of every three completions against the Beaver defense has been without a quality outcome.

The Stanford defense is somewhat the opposite of the Beaver defense, in that they are only allowing about 43 percent of the passes to be completed, but on average, over one in every four pass attempt comes away with either a touchdown, a third or fourth down conversion or a 25+ yard completion. Both the Ducks and the Cougars  are allowing about 40 percent of the passes they see defensively converted to either a touchdown, a third or fourth down conversion or a 25+ yard reception.

Let us know what you think of the metric or how we can make it more meaningful for you on Twitter, Facebook, or by e-mail.

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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