Gary Doran

Grading the Pac-12 Passing: Week 6

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It’s now week six of our weekly Passing Metric Report. We have added 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 for the defenses in several different “quality” categories. UCLA and Stanford 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

South_Offense

North_Offense

 

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
USC……….42.1%                                            OSU………..27.5%
Stan………42.1%                                             Colo………..31.9%
Cal………..40.2%                                            ASU.………..32.3%
Ore….……35.3%                                             Ariz…………32.3%
Wash…….34.2%                                            UCLA………32.4%

Of the ten teams that played this past week, only ASU and Ariz. improved their quality pass completion percentages from the previous week. Oregon State saw their quality pass completion percentage drop the most from last week, placing them at the bottom of the conference, where only about one out of every four Beaver pass attempts becomes a quality reception.

The Number of Quality Pass Completions

Top Five                                                        Bottom Five
Cal…….….…. 98                                              OSU……………. 38
WSU…………93                                               Utah…………… 46
ASU…………. 75                                              Wash………….. 52
USC…………. 69                                             Stan……………. 53
Colo………… 66                                              UCLA………….. 58

Notice the 5-0 Utah Utes have averaged less than ten quality pass completions per game. Less than half of their completions have garnered a quality result. It really helps to have the third most rushing yards in the conference, and not be so dependent upon the passing game.

The Percentage of Touchdown Pass Receptions to Total Pass Attempts

Top Five                                                       Bottom Five
USC…………..9.15%                                      Colo……………..2.89%
Stan………….7.94%                                      OSU……………..3.63%
Cal……………7.38%                                      Wash……………3.95%
Ore…………..6.47%                                      UCLA……………5.03%
Ariz………….6.46%                                      WSU……………..5.36%

The Colorado Buffaloes have thrown over 200 passes and have only completed six touchdown passes, whereas the USC Trojans have been over three times more successful in throwing touchdown passes per pass attempt. The five passing touchdowns last week helped push ASU above the bottom five. Before the Colorado games, the Devils were averaging throwing a TD pass 4.48 percent of the time, which would have been ninth this week.

The Percentage of 1st Down Pass Receptions to Total Pass Attempts

Top Five                                                     Bottom Five
Stan……………41.3%                                   OSU………………26.8%
Cal……….……..38.1%                                  ASU………………30.6%
USC…………….37.8%                                 WSU………………30.7%
Ore……………..34.1%                                  UCLA…………….30.7%
Wash…………..33.6%                                 Ariz……………….30.8%

It’s interesting to see that the teams throwing a higher percentage of touchdown passes per pass attempt are also throwing a higher percentage of first downs per pass attempt. Which could be demonstrating that when a team’s passing attack is clicking, it’s clicking in many areas. It’s also a little disheartening for ASU fans to see the Devils next to last in the conference in the percentage of passes getting a first down.  That limits drives.

The Percentage of 1st Down Pass Receptions 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………………51.0%                                 USC………………..29.7%
Ariz.…….………44.2%                                Ore…………………31.4%
Utah…………….43.2%                                WSU……….………31.7%
ASU…………..…40.3%                               Wash………………33.3%
UCLA……………39.1%                               OSU…………………34.1%

Even though USC puts up some impressive numbers in their overall quality pass receptions, the Trojans struggle in converting third down pass plays. It’s also interesting to note that four of the top five teams are from the South Division. What has helped Cal and UCLA post impressive numbers so far is that when either team completes a pass on third down, 80 percent of the time it goes for a first down. As for the Trojans, only half the time USC completes a third down pass it gains a first down.

DEFENSE

South_Defense
North_Defense

Percent of Quality Pass Completions Allowed/Total Pass Attempts

Top Five Limiting                                 Bottom Five Limiting
UCLA.…….26.6%                                       WSU………..35.7%
OSU.………26.6%                                       Ore………….35.5%
ASU……….30.0%                                       Utah…………33.2%
Colo………30.1%                                         Ariz………….32.5%
Stan..….….30.3%                                       Cal……………31.1%

Arizona still remains as the only team that has both its offense and its defense in the bottom five in this category, however, the Wildcats saw the biggest percentage improvement for both sides of the ball this past week.

The Number of Quality Pass Completions Allowed

Top Five Limiting                                Bottom Five Limiting
OSU…………..37                                         Ore………………98
UCLA…….….47                                          Utah…………….63
Stan………….49                                          Ariz……………..62
Wash………..51                                           Cal………………61
WSU…………52                                          Colo…………….58

UCLA is the only South Division team in the top 5 in limiting the number of quality pass receptions. Notice that the Oregon Ducks have given up 35 more quality pass receptions than the next highest team. In fairness, the Ducks have also faced 80 more pass attempts than the next highest team too.

The % of Touchdown Pass Receptions Allowed to Total Pass Attempts

Top Five Limiting                                Bottom Five Limiting
Wash………..1.19%                                     Ore..……………..7.61%
OSU.………….2.16%                                   Colo……………..6.22%
USC..…………2.19%                                   WSU.……………6.16%
Cal……………2.55%                                    ASU..……………5.88%
UCLA…….….3.39%                                   Utah…..………..5.79%

The Oregon Ducks have averaged giving up a touchdown pass roughly once every 13 pass attempts, while the Washington Huskies have averaged giving up one every 84 pass attempts. Notice that ASU is third in the conference is the percentage of quality passes it allows opponents to complete, but ninth in the conference in the percentage of touchdown passes it allows per pass attempt.

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

Top Five Limiting                                Bottom Five Limiting
OSU….…………25.9%                                WSU………………34.2%
UCLA..….……..26.6%                               Ore..………………31.9%
Colo..………….28.5%                                 Utah………………31.6%
ASU……..……..28.9%                                Ariz……………….30.9%
Stan……….…..29.0%                                 USC……………….30.6%

Oregon State, UCLA and Washington have been three teams that have been in the top five in most of the categories showing they are limiting all types of quality outcomes. By limiting first downs, a team is limiting drives. The South Division has three teams in both the top five and the bottom five.

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

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

Top Five Limiting                               Bottom Five Limiting
OSU………………25.0%                             WSU………………..44.4%
UCLA…….………31.0%                             Ariz…………………42.1%
Wash…………….32.1%                              Stan..……….………38.9%
Cal……………..…34.5%                             Colo…………..……37.5%
Ore…….…………35.5%                              USC…………………37.0%

It’s interesting that the Oregon pass defense has been somewhat generous in allowing opponents to complete quality passes overall, however, they appear to clamp down a little better on third down passes. The Colorado Buffaloes are third in the conference in limiting the percentage of passes that are converted into first downs, however, specifically on third down, they drop to ninth. The Oregon State Beavers are averaging stopping opponents from making a first down on three out of every four pass attempt.

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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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