Gary Doran

Let’s Raise Some Havoc


Starting this week, the Devils Den will begin tracking all the Pac-12 teams from a new measurement developed by a football stat guru by the name of Bill Connelly over at Football Outsiders. That website is a number nerd’s heaven. The new tracking measurement is known as the HAVOC RATE. It measures the number of tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions and pass breakups a team’s defense causes against the number of plays it faces. In effect, it measures the percentage of times a defense is impacting the other team’s offense, in other words raising havoc. We all know that is the number one Todd Graham defensive philosophy, so with that in mind, we will now track the Havoc Rate for each Pac-12 teams in our Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense Blog. Today is a first look at the Conference’s Havoc Rate all on its own.

Here is the Havoc Rate for the teams this year through Week 6.

Week 6 Havoc

Havoc Rate developed by Bill Connelly at Football Outsiders

As a reference, last year, ASU and Stanford led the conference in this measurement impacting over 23 percent of the plays their opponents ran in 2013. Impacting almost one out of every four plays doesn’t sound like it’s causing much havoc, but when you consider that an offense has many plays for no gain, along with incomplete passes that were not broken up, the havoc amount really is slicing into an offense’s number of opportunities, while also putting them at a disadvantage caused by the negative results from the havoc components.

Seven of the teams have improved on their 2013 Havoc performance, while Stanford is roughly the same as last year. Four teams, ASU, Cal, UCLA and USC have seen their Havoc rates drop from 2013. ASU has seen the biggest drop, no surprise here, while Utah has seen the biggest increase, with an impressive 6.6 percent increase over 2013. A ten-sack performance against UCLA sure helps. A big surprise is UCLA’s low level of negative impact on its opponents so far this year. What makes it surprising is that the Bruins have been in the National Championship chatter since the beginning of the year, but their havoc numbers appear to be somewhat mild. As a note, the conference as a whole has a Havoc Rate currently of 19.15 percent, which is slightly higher than last year’s 18.86 percent.

Since this is the inaugural Havoc Rate for the Devils Den, we will concentrate this time on ASU’s performance so far this year compared to 2013. Yes, the rate is lower, but exactly where is the drop off coming from? The quick answer is everywhere. First off, there isn’t a big difference between the two years for TFLs, as the Sun Devils registered a TFL once every 9.3 plays in 2013 and now it is once every 10.1 plays. The sacks are down per pass from one every 11.1 pass attempts to one every 16.2 pass attempts. Pass break ups are also down from one every 10.9 passes to one every 16.2 passes. Interceptions are way down in raw numbers and on a per pass basis from one every 21.2 passes to one every 81.0 passes. Now that’s a drop. Finally, the forced fumbles are about half of what they were last year on a per play basis from one every 67.3 plays to one every 124.3 plays this year.

From a havoc standpoint, TFLs are the only area currently that the Sun Devils appear to be close to matching last year’s squad. As we all know, this year’s defensive squad is young, inexperienced and still learning their positions. One would expect the Havoc Rate to increase for the Devils as the year progresses, and the new personnel learn the defensive system better. Now that could be said for all the other eleven teams, but it appears to be more so for ASU possessing a squad with a lot to learn, and a coaching staff known for its ability to teach. We will see how that develops each week as part of the Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the new measurement!

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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