Gary Doran

Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense Week 5


Now that the teams are full swing into conference play, let’s see how that changed the alignment in the Stat-Pac defensive standings for Week 5. There was a lot offense played by several winning teams as well as a couple of losing teams, so let’s see how that affected the defensive rankings. A team that doesn’t have to worry should be the Stanford defense, which held a high-powered Huskies offense under 200 total yards last week.

It’s All About the Score

Well the conference got its first overtime game this past week and it was a high scoring contest where the Bears and the Buffaloes put up over 100 points. The Buffaloes have given up almost 100 points in the second half alone of their five games so far this year. On the other extreme, the Stanford defense has only given up six points this year in the second half of their games in only allowing two field goals. That’s right, the Cardinal has yet to give up a second half touchdown this year. ASU on the other hand, has given up 62 points in the first half and 61 points in the second half; if nothing else, that’s at least balance.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Points

Defense by the Yard

As far as limiting yards, the top of the conference again is the Stanford Cardinal giving up less than 200 yards per game. The next closest defense is the Oregon State Beavers giving up over 100 yards more than the Stanford defense at 307 yards per game. The USC Trojans are third giving up over 350 yards per game. The conference’s most generous defense to date is the Cal Bears who give up almost 480 yards per game. If that rate continues for the entire twelve-game season, the Bears would give up over three miles of yards to its opponents.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Yards

First Defense

Not surprising, the Stanford defense stands out in the allowing the fewest number of first downs to its opponents at less than 13 first downs a game. It also only allows a first down once every 4.8 plays to its opponents. Oregon State and Washington State were next in only giving up a first down once every 3.7 plays. At the other end of the first down scale, the Cal Bears and the Colorado Buffaloes gave up a first down once every 3.1 plays.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_First

Third Time’s a Charm

There are three teams that have held opponents under a 30 percent success rate in converting third downs into first downs; USC, Stanford and Oregon State. In fact, USC is allowing its opponents to convert a third down to a first down only once every four tries. At the opposite end, there are four teams that have allowed opponents to convert third downs into first downs at over a 40 percent rate; Oregon, Utah, UCLA and ASU. Last week, UCLA allowed the Sun Devils eleven first down from third down opportunities, while Utah allowed the Cougars ten first downs from third down opportunities.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Third

TFLs – A Lost Cause

Even though Utah is first in the number of TFLs its defense has caused so far this season, it is second in the frequency of TFLs at 8.6 per play. The Stanford Cardinal leads the conference in that category with a TFL once every 7.9 plays. Oregon State is third in the frequency of TFLs at one every 9.8 plays. The UCLA Bruins are last in the conference in the frequency of TFL getting one every 19.6 plays. The Cal Bears are next with a TFL once every 16.5 plays.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_TFL

Sack It Up

The Washington Huskies have the most sacks in the conference to date, but taken on a per pass basis, Stanford is at the top of the conference in getting a sack once every 7.2 passes. As a side note, there have only been 79 passing attempts against Stanford in four games. Washington is second with a sack once every 9.0 passes, while Utah is third with a sack once every 10.0 passes. UCLA is way at the bottom on a per pass basis in getting a sack only once every 47.5 passes. The next closest to the Bruins is the Cal Bears at a sack once every 28.4 passes. That’s a big gap.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Sacks

Turnover Beethoven

Even though the Washington Huskies defense has caused the most turnover so far this seasons, they are actually third in the conference in the frequency of causing turnovers with a turnover every 31.3 plays by its opponents. The leader is the USC Trojan defense, which causes a turnover every 29.0 plays; with the Oregon State Beavers right behind at one every 29.4 plays. The Washington State Cougars are at the bottom causing a turnover only once every 94.5 plays. The next closest team was the Arizona Wildcats at a turnover every 73.8 plays.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Turnover

Red Zoning Out

Stanford has only allowed one red zone touchdown this year. Equally as impressive is that there have only been three times this season that an opponent has gotten into the Cardinal red zone. Utah is the only other conference team to allow fewer than ten trips this year into its red zone. At the other end of the scale, the Colorado Buffalo defense has allowed opponents into its red zone 22 times. They have also allowed those same opponents to turn roughly two-out-of-three of those red zone trips into touchdowns. Three teams have stopped opponents from scoring a touchdown from within its red zone more than half the times; Stanford, Washington and USC. Utah has allowed a red zone touchdown seven out of nine times which is almost an 80 percent success rate. Oregon State is next giving up a red zone touchdown eight out of eleven times, which is over a 70 percent success rate.

Pac-12_Week 5_D_Red_Zone


As conference play rages on, we should begin to see a bigger separation between the good and not-so-good defenses. Many of the same defensive teams are beginning to lead the conference in multiple categories. As more conference games are played, these defenses should garner more and more defensive stats, while others begin to fall away. Over the next few weeks, let’s see which teams rise and which begin to fall in the defensive category rankings.

Please give us feedback on what you like or would like to change about the defensive Stat-Pac graphs. We are open to delivering interesting and meaningful stats to you.

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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