USC at Washington State Offensive Recap

USC put up a fairly good offensive game against Washington State.  The offense had times of sputtering, but it also overpowered Washington State to the tune of 50 points and 613 yards of total offense.  However, the offense also committed three early turnovers which made us go into halftime with a 28-13 lead rather than what potentially could have easily been something more like 42-7 or even 49-7.

One thing I noticed was that USC changed up it’s offensive playbook slightly since the first three games.  In the first three games, USC used a lot of I-formation or Double Tight-End Ace formations.  Very few plays had three or four wide receivers on the field.  However, against Washington State, we used a lot of Single Back, Three Wide Receiver sets.  I expect the playbook to open up even more as the meat of our schedule hits in the upcoming weeks.

In this post, we will look at the plays per quarter and how they resulted in points and the overall run vs pass play calling for the offense.  Then we will take a quick look at the 3rd down conversions, and starting field position.

Plays/Points per Quarter

Notice that USC only took five offensive plays in the entire 1st quarter of the game.  These five plays included a 59 yard touchdown run by Havili, a 58 yard pass to Havili, a 7 yard run by Bradford, an 11 yard touchdown pass to Woods, and an interception in the endzone.  But lets take a look at the points scored per quarter.

As we can see here, those 5 offensive plays lead to 14 points (7 more added by an interception run back for a touchdown).  USC’s 26 plays of the 2nd quarter only lead to 7 points.  It is interesting to see that the 1st and 3rd quarters had the fewest plays, but the most points scored.  The 4th quarter isn’t surprising since by then most of the 2nd string was playing.  This leaves the 2nd quarter, where our offense got a lot of snaps in, but failed to really turn those into points.

On the bright side, USC didn’t allow their drives to sputter right away.  USC only had 1 drive which failed to produce a single first down.  This was the drive in which we blocked a punt to start 1st and goal on the 10 yard line and threw an interception on the 1st play.  There were  no 3 and outs or other things that can really kill the momentum (other than the interception, that is).  USC sustained drives, which leads to either points or is favorable in the field position battle.

Play Calling

Overall, USC ran the ball 39 times (57%) and passed the ball 30 times (43%).  However, if we split the game up before the 2nd stringers came in (4th quarter), we get a slightly different look.  In the first 3 quarters, USC ran the ball 24 times (49%) and passed the ball 25 times (51%).  This is the very balanced look that we are used to at USC.

Another interesting note was the redzone play calling in this game.  For the first three games of the season, USC ran the ball 9 times (43%) and passed the ball 12 times (57%) within the redzone.  However, against Washington State, USC ran the ball only 3 times (23%) and passed the ball 10 times (77%).

3rd Down Conversions

USC converted a very healthy 8/12 (67%) 3rd downs.  This included 4/5 (80%) of 3rd and short situations.  The good 3rd down conversion rate was most definitely helped by good production and good situations in 1st and 2nd downs.  In fact, USC faced no plays in which they were “long to go” (greater than 15 yards left to convert the 1st down).  This is in large part due to the continued improvement in the penalties department.  This game, USC only had 5 penalties.  Not only were there fewer penalties, but also the penalty yardage was 39 yards.  The penalties we are committing are no longer the 15 yard variety, but more of the 5 and 10 yard types.

Starting Field Position

USC had a starting field position on their own 43.  This is a great place to be starting with a short field.  This was aided by solid defensive effort, turnovers, and strong special teams play.  Its a good sign to always win that field position battle.  However, USC failed to produce many points off of the turnovers it gained.  USC only scored 7 points off of 3 turnovers.


USC’s offense rolled over an overmatched Washington State defense.  As has been the trend this season, there are still things to fix.  Three turnovers changed this game from an early blowout to a late blowout.  I wonder how much of Barkley’s interceptions had to do with the no-huddle that USC was experimenting with.  Barkley sure had a lot of yelling at the line of scrimmage early which lead to a lot of miscommunication.  But if there is a game you want to experiment and gain experience in, it’s against Washington State.

Look for my defensive recap analysis to come soon.

Click here for the full excel sheet.


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