Gary Doran

What’s Driving the Pac-12 South?


Here is another new measurement at the Devils Den taking a look at how well each of the Pac-12 South Division teams do with each of their offensive and defensive drives. The new measurement will not include any drive where a team is just running out the clock right before halftime or at the end of the game. That way, the analysis be will be measuring only the meaningful drives.

Each week, we will be measuring five possible outcomes that can happen from a drive; a touchdown, a field goal try, a three-and-out, a turnover including turning it over on downs and finally a punt after more than three plays. Tracking those five outcomes will give a good picture of the effectiveness of the team controlling the drive or defending against a team on a drive. We will publish a separate analysis for each of the two divisions in the Pac-12 North and South.

Here is a look at the offensive drives for all six of the South Division teams. Keep in mind that Colorado has played one more game than the other five conference teams in the division.


At a quick glance, you can see that ASU leads the group in the number of touchdowns scored from its offensive drives. In fact, the Devils have scored a touchdown on just over 40 percent of their offensive drives. That’s pretty impressive. The Arizona Wildcats lead the group in either scoring a touchdown or trying a field goal in that almost 58 percent of their offensive drives have ended with this outcome. It also means that in scoring situations, the Wildcats score a touchdown two out of three times, while attempting a field goal one of those times, whereas the Devils in scoring situations score a touchdown four out of five times, while trying a filed goal the one other time.

A real surprise is that UCLA is scoring touchdowns on only 31.7 percent of their offensive drives. This includes the touchdown outburst in Tempe couple of weeks ago. Additionally, they are the lowest of the six divisional teams in the percentage of times they are able to either score a touchdown or try a filed goal on their offensive drives at just under 42 percent.

Another surprise is that just over 25 percent of the USC offensive drives end with three plays and a punt. That’s the highest of the group. Utah is right behind at exact 25 percent. It also shows that the Arizona Wildcats are currently hitting on all cylinders offensively, because they experience a three plays and a punt less than once every ten drives. That is really impressive. Even though the Bruins have not been overly productive in scoring with their offensive drives, they don’t often experience a three plays and a punt situation either, only 15 percent of their drives. Another characteristic that has helped UCLA in its offensive drives is that they have only turned the ball over once every twelve drives. ASU is at roughly twice that rate in turning the ball over once every six drives.

Because UCLA is not scoring that often and not turning the ball over that often, then the only other outcome is that they punt the ball a lot. Exactly 50 percent of their drives ends with a punt. Utah is next with 44 percent of their drives end with a punt. Arizona is the lowest needing to punt only about 30 percent of their offensive drives.

Here is a look at the defensive drives for all six of the South Division teams.

Drive Chart Week 6 Offense

The first thing that jumps out at you on the defensive side is how often Arizona forces a three and out on its opponents, roughly 30 percent of the drives. Only Utah is slightly better at 31 percent. Utah was expected, but not Arizona. ASU struggles in getting teams off the field quickly. The Devils only force a three plays and a punt once every six drives. In fact, ASU forces a three plays and a punt situation fewer than any of the other South Division teams.

Utah and UCLA do the best job of keeping their opponents out of their end zones, as just over 20 percent of their opponents’ drives end in a touchdown. Colorado is having the hardest time keeping opponents out of their end zone, because almost one out of every three opponent drives end in a touchdown. That is one way to get a two and four record.

Utah has been very stingy in letting opponents have scoring opportunities. Only 25 percent of their opponents’ drives have ended in either a touchdown or a field goal try. The next closest is UCLA at 33 percent. However, UCLA is doing the best at getting a turnover per drive, as they are just slightly better than the Utes. Colorado lags behind the other five teams in generating turnover at one every ten drives.

One very interesting aspect to the drives is that most of the teams have close to the same number of offensive drives as they do defensive drives against them, except for the Trojans. USC has faced eight more drives by their opponents than they have generated on offense. On the opposite side, ASU has gotten five more offensive drives than it has faced on the defensive side.

There you have it, the Devils Den’s first installment of the offensive and defensive drives for the six South Division teams. Very shortly, we will do the same for the six teams in the North. Please let us know what you think of the analysis.

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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