Gary Doran

Weekly Stat-Pac: Defense Week 8

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It’s All About the Score

Yes, Stanford is still the leader in scoring defense for the conference, but ASU scored almost half the points last weekend that Stanford had allowed against six teams so far this season. Stanford went from giving up an average of ten points a game to 12.3 points a game now. Utah is second in scoring defense giving up an average of 21.7 points per game. Then there is California and Colorado. Both teams are giving up roughly 45 points per game. Washington State, whose defense had had some problems keeping teams out of its end zone is averaging ten points a game better than either Cal or Colorado. There are only five teams in the conference that has given up more than 100 points in a half so far this season; the three listed above, along with UCLA and Washington who both have given up 100 plus points in the first half. Another interesting stat is that Oregon State has only given up three points in their six games in the third quarter.

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Defense by the Yard

Stanford is still the stingiest defense in giving up yards at 255 yards per game. The next closest team is the Oregon State Beavers 70 yards more generous per game than the Cardinal at 329 yards per game. Utah is the only other teams giving up fewer than 400 yards per game at 379 yards. California is the only conference team to average giving up more than 500 yards per game at 525. The next most generous team in terms of yardage is the Oregon Ducks giving up an average of 448 yards per game. Last weekend, both ASU and Oregon gave up the fewest yards they’ve allowed so far this season.

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First Defense

ASU gained more first downs against the Stanford defense than any team the Cardinal has played so far this year. Even in giving up 23 first downs last weekend, Stanford still leads the conference in only giving up an average of 16 first downs a game. The Oregon State Beavers are next at roughly 19 first downs a game. ASU jumped into third place in restricting first downs in giving just over 20 per game. That average was helped by the performance last weekend where the defense only gave up 14 first downs to Stanford, which was the lowest in the conference for the week. At the generous end of giving up first downs is the Cal Bears averaging almost 29 first downs a game allowed to their opponents.

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Third Time’s a Charm

Oregon State has taken over as the conference leader in stopping drives on third down. Just over 30 percent of the third down situations faced by Oregon State opponents succeed in getting a first down. In other words, they are stopping almost seven out of every ten third down attempts for a first down. Stanford dropped to second at just over 32 percent success rate. The Oregon Duck are surrendering a first down on a third down situation in almost half their opponents’ third down oppontunities. That’s the highest in the conference, which is not good for a National Playoff contending team. The Duck and the Bears have faced the most third down situations by their opponents at 118 in seven games. That’s an average of almost 17 third down situations faced by those two teams per game. On the other hand, Oregon State has only faced 86 third down situations by its opponents this so far this season.

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TFLs – A Lost Cause

Utah is still leading the conference in TFLs per play at one for every 7.9 plays. Stanford is next with a TFL for every 8.9 plays. ASU is still third with a TFL once every 10.3 plays. At the bottom end of the conference is the Cal Golden Bears with a TFL once every 16.6 plays followed by the UCLA Bruins again with a TFL once every 14.4 plays. USC is next with a TFL once every 14.2 plays. This past weekend, the TFLs went back up to an average of 7.3 per teams per game. Even though the game with ASU didn’t go too well for Stanford, their defense still registered twelve TFLs against the Sun Devils. Utah registered ten TFLs against Oregon State last week.

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Sack It Up

Utah still leads the conference in the number of sacks per pass attempt with one every 7.2 attempts. The Washington Huskies are next with a sack once every 9.7 pass attempts, again, no change there for either team. At the bottom of the conference is not the UCLA Bruin defense this week, but the Cal Bear defense with a sack only once every 33.5 passes. The Bruins improved this past weekend to a sack once every 27.7 pass attempts. The next defense a little light on sacks is the USC Trojans with a sack only once every 18.8 pass attempts. That’s a surprise for a seemingly stout defense.

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Turnover Beethoven

Oregon State is now the leader in forcing turnovers with one every 33.8 plays. The Washington Huskies are now second with a turnover once every 36.2 plays. The Washington State defense is still only getting a turnover once every 103.4 plays. No other team in the conference even comes close to that. Stanford and Washington were the only two teams not able to create a turnover in their games against the Sun Devils and the Ducks this past weekend.

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Red Zoning Out

For as well as the Oregon State defense is performing so far this year, it sure isn’t showing up when an opponent enters the Beaver’s red zone. Almost 78 percent of the drives that get into the Oregon State red zone end up with a touchdown. Colorado is not far behind allowing about 72 percent of opponents’ red zone opportunities to end in scoring touchdowns. Stanford and Washington keep their opponents from scoring a touchdown better than 50 percent of the time from their red zones. California and Colorado have allowed opponents into their red zones 32 times so far this year. That is over 4.5 times a game. That’s way too scoring opportunities.

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Havoc Rate (the aggressive defenses)

Of the ten teams that played last week, eight of them saw their Havoc Rate increase from the previous week. (The Havoc Rate measures the percentage of times a defense is impacting another team’s offense using five defensive categories.) ASU and UCLA saw their Havoc Rates increase the most with ASU’s rate increasing 1.8 percent, while UCLA’s went up 1.6 percent. The two defenses seeing their Havoc Rate decrease this past week were Utah and Washington. The conference average jumped back to 19.17 percent, which means that ASU is still under the conference average this season.

Once we have a few weeks of historic Havoc Rates, we will begin tracking the weekly changes to each team’s rate on a graph. Right now, there just are not enough weeks to show much movement.

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Havoc Rate developed by Bill Connelly at Football Outsiders

Next ASU Opponent: Washington

We have seen how stifling the Stanford defense has been so far this season with our weekly Stat-Pac looks, but how does this year’s squad stack up to last year’s squad? Here is a look:

Points allowed per game…..2014—25…….…..2013–23
Yards allowed per game……2014—415….…….2013–389
Turnovers per game…………2014—2.1……..…2013–1.8
Giving up red zone TDs……..2014—46%………..2013—59%
3rd down conversion rate….2014—39%………..2013—38%
Completions % allowed…….2014—65%………..2013—55%
Havoc Rate……………………2014—20.3%………2013–19.4%

Based on the seven defensive categories above, this year’s Washington defensive squad is somewhat close to the production of last year’s team. This year’s team is giving a few more yards and points per game, but impacting offenses more often than in 2013. The one significant difference is the passing completion rate from last year to this year. This year, quarterbacks are completing passes at a ten percent better clip than against 2013’s defense.

Let us know what you think of the our weekly Stat-Pac for the defenses in the conference and also our new Havoc Rate. Impacting the opponent’s offense and quarterback is a mainstay of a Todd Graham defense, and why we are tracking the Havoc Rate for ASU and the conference.

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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