Gary Doran

Grading the Pac-12 Passing: Week 7

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Here’s Week Seven of our weekly Passing Metric Report. It includes a Top 5 and Bottom 5 in the conference graded by the quality of pass completions for the offenses and quality of pass completions allowed by the defenses. As a point of reference, we have added the completion percentages and the average yards per pass completed to see how the teams rank in those categories against the quality rankings. The Cal Bears did not play this past weekend so their numbers stayed the same.

As a reminder, the passing 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 metrics 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

OFFENSE

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Percentages of Passes Completed

Top Five                                                    Bottom Five
WSU………71.4%                                        OSU…………49.4%
Utah..….…69.7%                                        UCLA…….…57.0%
USC……….68.7%                                        ASU.……..…58.4%
Stan………68.3%                                        Ariz…………58.9%
Cal…………65.6%                                       Colo…………59.8%

Average Yards per Completed Pass

Top Five                                                  Bottom Five
Stan………….15.64                                    Utah……………10.04
USC…………..13.96                                   WSU……………10.09
Cal…………….13.33                                   OSU……………..10.52
Ore……………12.98                                   ASU……………..11.54
UCLA…………12.62                                  Colo……………..11.95

It’s interesting to note that Utah has the second highest pass completion percentage in the conference, but the lowest average yards per pass completed. On the other hand, UCLA has the second lowest completion percentage rate in the conference, but the fifth highest average yards per pass completed. It could be argued that with Utah’s success that even though the overall yards gained per pass attempt are lower, there are more of them and they are probably very timely. In UCLA’s case, on average they are seeing longer completions, however, they just need to see a greater percentage of them.

QUALITY PASSING METRICS

Percent of Quality Pass Completions/Total Pass Attempts

There are two factors that determine the percentages below. The first is the percentage of passes being completed. In Oregon State’s case, the Beavers are completing less than 50 percent of their passes. That hurts. The second factor is the percentage of completions that end up with a quality outcome. In Stanford’s case, over 60 percent of the passes being completed by the Cardinal have ended up with a quality outcome.

Top Five                                              Bottom Five
Stan……….42.1%                                  OSU…….…..28.6%
Cal…………40.2%                                 ASU…………31.0%
USC………..38.4%                                Colo…………32.3%
Ore….…..…35.9%                                UCLA……….32.6%
WSU……….35.2%                               Wash……….32.6%

Six of the conference teams improved their overall quality passing from last week, while four teams kept their quality percentage at roughly the same level. There were three teams that saw their quality pass completion rating drop; USC experienced a 3.7 percent drop while Washington’s dropped 1.6 percent and ASU dropped 1.3 percent.  The ASU passing game had risen the previous three weeks in a row before this dip.

QUALITY RECEPTIONS IN CRITICAL SITUATIONS

The Percentage of 1st Down Pass Completions to Total 3rd Down Pass Attempts

Here we are trying to see how teams are performing on critical third down passes. The numbers below are a percentage of third down passes that gain a first down.

Top Five                                          Bottom Five
Cal………………50.1%                       USC………………..29.8%
Utah…………….44.7%                      OSU..………………31.4%
Ariz………………44.4%                     Wash..…….………34.6%
ASU….………..…38.6%                    Colo.………………35.3%
Ore……………….37.8%                    Stan..………………35.6%

Even though USC puts up some impressive numbers in their overall quality pass completions, the Trojans struggle in converting third down pass plays to first downs. One reason may be that USC has the fourth largest percentage of third down situations that need ten or more yards for the first down. An interesting note is that Stanford is in the bottom five in pass completions converting into first downs, yet the Cardinal also has experienced the fewest percentage of third downs that needed ten or more yards to get a first down.

DEFENSE

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Percentages of Passes Allowed to be Completed

Top Five in Limiting Completions                       Bottom Five in Limiting Completions
UCLA……….52.8%                                                            WSU……..……67.0%
Stan…………53.9%                                                             OSU…..…….…64.4%
Utah………..53.9%                                                             Ore…..……..…64.0%
Wash………56.0%                                                              Ariz……………59.1%
Colo….…..…56.7%                                                            ASU……………57.8%

Average Yards Allowed per Completed Pass

Top Five in Limiting Avg. Yards                          Bottom Five in Limiting Avg. Yards
UCLA….…….10.36                                                           ASU……….……13.65
OSU…………..10.54                                                          Cal………………12.55
WSU………….10.59                                                          Ariz……………..12.52
Ore……………10.89                                                          Utah…..………..12.29
Colo…..………11.63                                                          Wash..…………..11.98

A tale of two teams in that Oregon State is allowing over 64 percent of the pass attempts its defense faces, however, the Beavers give up the second lowest average yards per catch. On the other hand, Utah is third best in the conference at limiting pass completions, but when they do allow a catch, the Utes gives up the fourth most average yards per catch in the conference. As far as the Devil’s pass defense, it has the double negative of allowing the fifth most percentages of passes to be completed against them and allowing the most average yards per catch in the conference.

Percent of Quality Pass Completions Allowed/Total Pass Attempts Faced

Top Five in Limiting Quality Completions      Bottom Five in Limiting Quality Completions
UCLA.…..….27.5%                                                             WSU……..…..35.2%
Stan…..….…30.3%                                                             Ore……………34.4%
USC…..….….30.3%                                                            Ariz..………….32.8%
ASU…………30.5%                                                             OSU.………….31.9%
Cal…….….….31.1%                                                             Wash……..…31.6%

It’s interesting that ASU is in the bottom portion of the conference in the percentage of pass completions it allows and the average yards allowed per pass catch, yet the Devils rank fourth best in limiting quality pass receptions. Remember that the quality metric is a measure of the “number” of quality pass completions to the total “number” of pass attempts. For instance a pass completion of 80 yards is equal to one that travels only 26 yards. One thing is clear, the UCLA Bruins have the best pass defense in the conference in many defensive categories, including the passing metric.

The Percentage of 1st Down Pass Receptions Allowed to Total 3rd Down Pass Attempts Faced

Here we are trying to see how defenses are performing on critical third down passes. The numbers below are the percentages of third down passes that gain a first down as a percentage of total pass attempts faced.

Top Five Limiting 3rd Down Conversions         Bottom Five Limiting 3rd Down Conversions
UCLA.……………31.3%                                                         WSU………………..39.5%
OSU……….………33.3%                                                       ASU…………………38.8%
Cal…..…………….34.5%                                                       Colo..……….………38.7%
Utah…………..…35.0%                                                        Ariz…………..….…38.2%
Ore…….…………36.2%                                                        USC………………….37.1%

The Colorado pass defense does well in terms of limiting pass completions and limiting the average yards per pass play overall, but slips a little when it gets to be third down in allowing the third down passes the Buffaloes face to be converted to first downs. Stanford is similar in that the Cardinal is second in the conference in the percentage of passes it allows to be completed, but drops to seventh when it comes to allowing third down passes to be converted into first downs.

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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