Gary Doran

Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense Week 4


Now that we took a look at some eye-popping offensive numbers generated in Week Four, it is time to see how the Pac-12 defenses performed this past weekend. This was the last weekend of mainly non-conference games. Going forward the games will mostly be conference team vs. conference team. Let’s see where the defenses stack up after Week Four.

It’s All About the Score

It seems that several of the Pac-12 defenses have been a bit porous so far this year, because five of the twelve teams have given up more than 25 points per game, while only three teams have given up less than 20 points per game, Stanford, OSU and Utah. From an adjustment standpoint, two-thirds of the conference defenses allow fewer points in the second half as compared to what they give up in the first half. Speaking of second halves, Halloween came early for the Cal Bears in the form of a frightful second half in Tucson. Here’s how bad that last quarter was for the Bears; in that one quarter, Cal gave up 36 points, whereas in the previous eleven quarters they had only given up a total of 51 points.

Week 4 O Pac-12Points

Defense by the Yard

Half of all the Pac-12 Conference teams are giving up over 400 yards per game in total yards, with the Ducks and the Wildcats leading the way both giving up more than 430 yards per game. Stanford and Oregon State are the only two teams to allow less than 300 total yards per game. In all three of its games, Stanford has held its opponents to less than 300 total yards. At the next level, Utah and Oregon State have not given up 400 yards in a game so far this season. Overall, the conference has not seemed overly defensive, judging by the fact that only about one-out-of-six times has a Pac-12 team held its opponent under 300 total yards in a game.

Week 4 O Pac-12 Yards

First Defense

Oregon, Washington and Arizona lead the conference in the number of first downs surrendered through Week Four, however, on a per game basis, Cal took over the lead with its first down giveaway last weekend in Tucson. Because of last weekend, the Bears join the Washington Huskies as the only teams in the conference that has given up more than 30 first downs in a game this season.

Week 4 O Pac-12 First

Third Time’s a Charm

Oregon, Utah and WSU are the only three conference teams to allow opponents to convert third downs at better than a 40 percent rate. The Oregon State Beavers have given up the fewest third down conversions by not allowing opponents to convert on roughly three-out-of-four opportunities. So far this year, Washington is the only team to allow an opponent to convert double-digit third down opportunities at ten first downs in Week One.

Week 4 O Pac-12 Third

TFLs – A Lost Cause

Even though Oregon has caused the most TFLs so far this year, they are actually third in the conference in how frequently they make a TFL on a per play basis. At the top, Stanford’s defense makes a TFL once every 7.7 plays from scrimmage. Utah is second causing a TFL once every 8.2 plays. At the bottom of the conference is the UCLA Bruins causing a TFL once every 19.1 plays. It’s also interesting to note that each week the number of TFLs per team has increased from a low of 4.9 per team in Week One to 7.5 this past weekend.

Week 4 O Pac-12 TFL

Sack It Up

In looking at the number of sacks compared to the number of pass attempts an opponent tried, gives a good picture of how well a team’s defense impacts a quarterback. Based on that, Stanford is the best at sacking its opponents’ quarterbacks doing it once every 7.0 passing attempts. The Utah Utes are second at 7.9 pass attempts per sack with Washington third at 8.1 pass attempts per sack. No other conference team is under ten pass attempts per sack. The UCLA Bruins are at the bottom of the conference in needing 40.3 pass attempts per sack. That is double the eleventh place team at 20.0 attempts per sack.

Week 4 O Pac-12 Sacks

Turnover Beethoven

Looking at the frequency at which a defense causes a turnover per play from scrimmage, Oregon State is at the top causing a turnover once every 20.4 plays. Next is the USC Trojans causing a turnover once every 29.3 plays. Stanford is third at 33.8 plats per turnover. Washington State causes turnovers at the lowest frequency with one every 99.3 plays. The Arizona Wildcats are also up there with a turnover only once every 73.8 plays.

Week 4 O Pac-12 Turnover

Red Zoning Out

Colorado’s defense has given up a total of 14 touchdowns so far this year, twelve of them have happened after its opponent entered the Buffalo red zone. The Oregon Duck have surrendered ten touchdowns and all of them happened from the Ducks’ red zone. From a limiting standpoint, Utah has only allowed its opponents to enter into the Ute’s red zone six times this year, however, their opponents ended up scoring a touchdown five times in those six chances. Through Week Four, Stanford and Washington are the only two teams to keep their opponents’ success rate in scoring a touchdown from their red zones to below 50 percent.

Week 4 O Pac-12 Red_Zone


The defensive numbers so far through Week Four represent 33 games against non-conference teams and four games played against each other. Something to consider in looking through the graphs is that a very big portion of the numbers on the graphs represent Pac-12 Conference teams against non-conference foes, and many of those foes were subpar in talent. Going forward, most all the games will be one Pac-12 opponent against another. It will be interesting to see if the defensive numbers begin to change. Stay tuned!

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!

Recommended for you

You must be logged in to post a comment Login