USC at Hawaii Defensive Recap

USC at Hawaii had a lot of disappointments to go along with our stellar offense.  Mostly, this disappointment came on the defensive side of the ball.  The tackling was sub par, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since USC had vastly reduced live tackling practice in fall camp.  Penalties also hurt USC greatly as well.  In this post, we will look at the run vs pass play calling from the Hawaii Run and Shoot offense, the gain distribution histogram for Hawaii, the yards allowed by down and quarter, and how penalty yardage affected the game.

Hawaii’s Run vs Pass Play Calling

First, lets look at the run vs pass play calling by Hawaii.  Hawaii ran a Run and Shoot offense out of the pistol formation.  The pistol formation was something of a surprise to USC, as Hawaii ran out of the Shotgun last year.  But, Hawaii threw the ball as much as ever,  throwing 54 times (69%) and running 24 times (31%).  Note that many of the runs were in actuality broken down pass plays in which the QB scrambled.  Hawaii’s starting QB Moniz is credited for 11 carries for 38 yards.  One of those runs was an option play so was a called run.  However, I am unsure how many of the remaining 10 runs by Moniz were broken down pass plays vs called runs.  In any case, here is a graph depicting the runs vs passes based by down using the original numbers.  Even without adjustments for QB runs, Hawaii passed nearly twice as much as they ran the ball in nearly all areas.

Hawaii Gain Distribution

Our defense was unable to provide consistent stops on the Hawaii offense.  Hawaii was able to pull off 14 explosive plays (plays which gained 15 or more yards).  This accounted for 18% of their total offensive plays, nearly 1 in 5 plays.  10 of their 54 (19%) total passing plays were considered explosive and 4 of their 24 (17%) running plays were explosive.  This included a long 3rd and 15 draw play which had no business gaining 30 yards on our defense.

On the flip side, USC was able to produce gains of zero or negative yardage seven times against Hawaii, which accounted for 9% of their total offensive plays.  On that note, lets take a look at Hawaii’s Run and Pass Gain Histogram.

I adjusted the vertical axis to only display up to 11 so it was easier to read.  However, please note that Hawaii had 22 passing plays for no gain (off the chart in this case) since most of these were incompletions.  Hawaii’s offense shows a good distribution even on the higher gains.  Unfortunately, that meant that USC’s defense allowed 24 plays of 10 or greater yards.  Many of these plays can be attributed to missed tackles.

Yards allowed by Down and Quarter

If we look at the average yardage allowed by our defense by down, we end up with this graph below.

Our best down at defending was 2nd down where we held Hawaii to an average gain of just over four yards per play.  Our worst down by far was 3rd down where the defense allowed a whopping 13.47 yards per play.

Now lets look at yardage allowed by quarter.  I have also supplemented the data on defensive penalty yards which helped aid the Hawaii offense as well.

A total of 70 defensive penalty yards helped keep Hawaii in the game.  This included three offside calls, two pass interference calls, a roughing the passer, and a personal foul.  The defensive coverage also broke down as the game progressed.  In the first quarter, our defense was able to hold Hawaii to 81 yards.

However, the 2nd quarter was plagued by 40 defensive penalty yards which kept drives alive for Hawaii.  Hawaii’s final drive of the 2nd quarter was aided by three defensive penalties.  Hawaii started the drive with only 1:06 on the clock and starting on their own 20 yard line.  When Hawaii reached midfield, USC committed an offsides penalty for 5 yards.  Immediately following that play, USC committed pass interference for 15 yards.  The very next play, Moniz completed a 12 yard pass to Salas and USC was nailed with another 10 yard penalty for roughing the passer bringing the drive to the USC 9 yard line.  Hawaii went on to kick a field goal in the waning seconds of the half (and nearly scored a touchdown if the replay hadn’t called it back).  This 79 yard drive by Hawaii was aided by a total of 30 penalty yards by the USC defense.

The 4th quarter was pretty bad too, allowing 188 yards.  Most of those yards came from Hawaii’s 3rd string QB.


It will be interesting to see how USC’s defense adjusts after this game.  There were a lot of holes in the execution of the gameplan.  I expect a more inspired effort in our next home game against Virginia.

Next, I will take a statistical preview of Virginia.  I will look at their 34-13 win against Richmond as well as their 2009 season statistics.  This will hopefully paint a picture of what we will see from Virginia as they visit the Coliseum this coming Saturday.

Click here for the full excel sheet.


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