Gary Doran

Week 3 Pac-12 Stats: Defense


Even though the Pac-12 Conference possesses some high-flying offenses, defense wins championships. For proof, look to see which team ranked first in defense in the last two years in the conference, and then compare that to which team won the championship the last two years. With that in mind, we kickoff a new Devils Den weekly statistical snapshot starting with the conference defenses.

For reference: Cal, Oregon State and Utah have only played two games so far where every other team has played three.

It’s All About the Score

The first graph looks at the scoring the defenses have allowed in each half of play. Notice which team has put a fence around its end zone that’s colored Cardinal. Three things that jump out at you is the number of points the two Washington schools have allowed to date, how few second half points Oregon allows and, so far, Colorado’s defense is not a strength.

Week 3 Pac 12 Points Allowed

Defense by the Yard

The second graph looks at the number of total yards each team has given up through week three. The things that jump out from this graph is how well Oregon State has done in limiting the number of yards its opponents have gained in its two games; only Stanford gave up fewer yards in its first two games. A big surprise is the number of yards the USC defense has surrendered so far, which is totally uncharacteristic for them. Oregon is another surprise in the number of yards it has allowed through week three.

Week 3 Pac-12 Yards

First Defense

The third graph is all about the number of first downs each team has yielded thus far. The Huskies have been very generous in this department, and surprisingly Oregon is right up there too. Even though ASU has not been overly effective on defense in the first three games, five of the eight other teams that have played three games thus far have given up more first downs.


Third Time’s a Charm?

The fourth graph looks at the raw number of third down conversions each team has let its opponents make. Oregon is at the top of the pack in allowing teams to convert that all-important third down. Two other surprises is how few first downs USC gave up compared to the total yards the team surrendered and even more so with Colorado. Plus Washington shut the door last week on third down conversions with Illinois.

Week 3 Pac 12 1st Downs Allowed

TFLs – A Lost Cause

The fifth graph highlights tackles for losses by each team. With all the yards and first downs Oregon is surrendering, it’s surprising to see the Ducks leading the league in tackle for losses. Another surprise team is the Utah defense, which has the most TFLs in the first two games in the conference. It is also surprising to see the two Los Angeles schools, UCLA and USC, with the fewest TFLs for those teams that have played three games. Notice that after a slow start, ASU seems to be getting its TFL groove on.

Week 3 Pac-12 TFL

Sack It Up!

The sixth graph is all about the sack. It shows the number of sacks each team has accumulated through week three. With all the other defensive struggles the Huskies are having, chasing down the quarterback is not one of them. Utah is also getting after the quarterbacks too. Since Todd Graham is all about impacting the quarterback, that doesn’t seem to have materialized yet for the Sun Devils. Then there’s UCLA. In over 120 passing attempts, the UCLA defense has only sacked the opposing quarterbacks three times.

Week 3 Pac-12 Sacks

Turnover Beethoven

The seventh graph highlights the number of times each of the defenses is successful at taking the ball away from the opposing offenses. The biggest thing from the graph is how generous Portland State was to Oregon State in week one turning the ball over five times. After being shutout in week one, ASU has seen back-to-back three turnovers game. It’s just the opposite for UCLA who feasted on Virginia turnovers in week one, and has gotten nothing since.

Week 3 Pac-12 Turnovers

Red Zoning Out

The eighth and final graph shows how many times opponents has entered a team’s red zone, and then how many times the opponents have scored a touchdown. Tracking the number of touchdowns seems like a better measure of a defense’s tenacity at it goal line, than allowing field goals to count too, since once a team is in the red zone, that team is already in field goal range.

The biggest thing that jumps right off the graph is that the Stanford defense doesn’t let teams into its red zone; only three times in three games. Colorado, on the other hand, is very accommodating to its opponents in letting twelve-out-of-fourteen red zone trips end up in the Colorado end zone. Also, Washington and USC both seem to be pretty stingy when other teams get into their red zone.

Week 3 Pac-12 Red Zone TDs Allowed


There you have it; eight different defensive measurements trying to help us gauge which Pac 12 defenses are doing well and which are struggling. We will update the figures on a weekly basis to see what changes and trends emerge. Let us know what you think.

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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