Devils Den Blog

Sun Devils Stats Notebook 9/10/14


The sport of baseball is known for its statistics. Baseball has a huge statistical following in its fantasy baseball community, and in the Major League, organizations use statistical analysis to analyze players to find under utilized and under appreciated skill sets. With respect to football, there has not been any major player trend changes due to statistics like baseball, but trending football statistics provides insight into key team strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.

The “Sun Devil Stats Notebook” is a new series that will look at some key statistics throughout the 2014 season. As the season progresses, more data will become available. With more data, deeper analysis and more conclusions will be produced. For now, the results of the first two games of 2014 are examined.




After two weeks, both, the AP Poll voters and the Coaches Poll voters, are gaining faith in USC and Notre Dame, The Trojans were victorious at Stanford while the Fighting Irish destroyed Michigan last weekend. Voters are losing faith in UCLA even though UCLA is 2-0 after defeating Virginia on the road and Memphis on the road.

Too bad the polls are just weekly discussion points this season and they have no real impact into any post season results.

Cumulative Team Stats


All Sun Devil fans easily remember a Jaelen Strong back shoulder fade or a Cameron Smith post route for big offensive gains, but head coach Todd Graham publicly discusses the Sun Devils being a power-running team. After two games, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell is calling about 60% rushing plays. That number is probably skewed a bit high due to the Sun Devils being ahead of their two inferior opponents so far this season, so as the Sun Devils get into the Pac-12 season, it will be interesting if this number gets closer to 50/50 or stays 60/40.



The pie chart above looks at the distribution of Arizona Sun Devil receptions. After two games, the glaring statistic is that the tight ends have not registered a single catch.  Last season, 2013, tight ends caught 13% of the passes while two seasons ago, 2012, tight ends caught 22%.



Examining the breakdown for Sun Devil tackles for loss, two trends seem to be emerging. First, the young Sun Devil defensive line is not making plays in the offensive backfield. Marcus Hardison and new defensive lineman Viliami Latu each have a single tackle for loss in 2014, and that is all. Last season, the Arizona State defensive line contributed 39% of the total defensive tackles for loss. So, Todd Graham likes an attacking defense, so if his line is not going to get into the backfield, Graham is going to blitz his linebackers and defensive backs who started to rack up the TFLs against New Mexico.

Week by Week Trending Metrics

The following line graphs will become more important during Pac-12 play as they compare how the Sun Devils offense and defense did in key categories from week to week. The one key take away from the charts below is that Arizona State did improve from Week 1 to Week 2 in these areas charted.






In the statistics world, two games is too small of a sample size to make significant conclusions. However, after this weekend, twenty-five percent of the Arizona State football season is complete. Patterns will emerge, and deeper data analysis will emerge throughout the year. So, what other statistics does Sun Devil nation want to see examined and trended? Leave a comment 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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