Don Hansen

Week 11 ASU Stats Notebook


The “Sun Devil Stats Notebook” series looks at some key statistics throughout the 2014 Sun Devil season.

Key Utah Game Stat

Our key statistic from the overtime victory over Utah is from the Utah perspective. While many Sun Devil fans were disappointed with the offensive production, the Arizona State offense averaged more yards per play against the Utah defense than any other Ute opponent this season. Additionally, the Arizona State defense held the Utah offense to their lowest yards per play on the season.

utah results




Here are some key takeaways when looking at the polls:

  • AP voters had the Sun Devils ranked as high as #8 and as low as #18.
    • Notable Pac-12 Writers and their Arizona State rankings: Ringo (12th), Wolf (13th), Wilner (13th), Berk (10th), Jude (12th)
    • Please ignore the AP ballot of Josh Kendall, from Columbia, South Carolina, who ranked Arizona State #18 as he also has TCU at #2, three loss West Virginia at #12, and UCLA at #17.
  • The match-up against Notre Dame will be Arizona State’s ninth game of the season, and the Fighting Irish are the Sun Devils FIFTH ranked opponent (UCLA, USC, Stanford, and Utah). Only Weber State, New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington, who were in the preseason top 25, were unranked when playing Arizona State.
  • After a loss, both the AP and the Coaches Poll voters drop Pac-12 teams by approximately nine spots (-8.5 in AP and -8.75 in Coaches). In comparison, SEC teams drop by approximately eight spots after a loss.
  • The College Football Playoff released its first rankings last Tuesday. The Sun Devils were ranked 14th by the committee. That is third among Pac-12 teams as Oregon was ranked 5th and Arizona ranked 12th. If Arizona State wins out, there is no reason the Sun Devils will not be included in the final four of the CFP.

Cumulative Team Stats


Against Utah, the Sun Devils offense played power football as Taylor Kelly led the offense on 43 rushing and 33 passing plays (one of these passing plays was the Bercovici hail mary to end regulation). The rushing data continues trending upward to where Todd Graham team’s have been his entire head coaching career (53%-55% run / 45-47% pass) with multiple offensive coordinators.

passdistrThe passing offense continues to be geared toward the wide receivers and running backs. This makes sense since the biggest offensive play makers are a running back, DJ Foster, and wide receiver, Jaelen Strong. However, the lack of a dependable tight end / h-back is hurting the offense. As we discussed last week, the tight end/h-back position in this offense is used to create mismatches specifically in the short to intermediate pass routes. A big, dependable, and consistent tight end would increase red zone offensive performance as they force defenders to have to play through their body to get the ball.

tflsThe tackles for loss distribution across the defense remains essentially the same from the past three weeks. With nine new defensive starters this season, the Sun Devils defensive is now ranked SEVENTH in the nation with 7.88 tackles for loss per game. That number is higher than last season’s 7.21 tackles for loss per game which was 18th in the nation.

Week by Week Trending Metrics

The following line graphs continue to track important offensive and defensive metrics for the Sun Devils.

Even without starting left guard Christian Westerman, the offense finally had an effective rushing attack at 5.6 yards per rush led by true freshman Demario Richard who had 14 carries for 116 hard earned yards. In order to keep DJ Foster healthy for the entire season, the breakout performances by Richard over the past two games should give confidence to the coaching staff.


The Sun Devil defense is trending upward. Since the disaster against UCLA, the defense has improved. Examining tackles for loss and sacks, the dashed trendlines below show the defense is playing as a unit and getting more tackles for loss and sacks. Coaches want their teams peaking toward the end of the season and the Sun Devil defense appears to be doing just that.


Maybe a cleaner, more telling statistic to see just how good the defense has been lately is to examine total yards per play. Since the UCLA game (Game 4 in the chart below), the defense has improved each week in total yards allowed per play. The credit goes to both the coaches and the players. The coaches took a step back and re-examined their style of play, and the players have seemed to respond to the coaching. The mental errors and missed tackles that plagued the team against UCLA are not happening, and from the stands, it appears the defense is reacting more rather than thinking.


All in all, no matter how many statistics reviewed, the only true statistic that matters is the following:

pac12standingsWhat other statistics do you want to see us look into? Post a message below and let us know.

About Don Hansen

Don Hansen

Don is a 2003 graduate of Arizona State University where he spent four years sitting in the front rows of many ASU athletic events leading the rowdy student section. Now, Don co-hosts the "ASU Devils Den" podcast covering every detail of ASU football. Don works and resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his beautiful Sun Devil wife and their two beautiful daughters!

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