USC at Washington St. Defensive Recap

The USC defensive squad did a fairly good job against Washington State.  Washington State struggled to put many points on the board.  Their touchdown drive to start the game was off of a pretty elaborate trick play.  Robey wasn’t in horrible position but seemed to slow down a step too soon, forcing him to have to dive to try to swat the ball.  USC’s defense also was able to bring down three interceptions, including a pick six, which offset the turnovers the offense gave up.  USC was also able to sack Tuel four times.

This post will look at the play calling by Washington State.  It will then look at the yards allowed per quarter by the defense.  Finally, it will look at 3rd down conversions.

Play Calling

Washington State came out throwing early against the young USC secondary.  This isn’t too much of a surprise given that Washington State ranks 43rd nationally in passing but 108th in rushing.  Overall they ended up with 22 runs (33%) and 45 passes (67%).

Yards Allowed per Quarter

I found it interesting to see the yards allowed by our defense per quarter.

As you can see, Washington State’s production came mostly in the 1st quarter.  It tapered down as the game progressed.  Our 2nd stringers actually held the best allowing only 43 yards.  It doesn’t surprise me too much that the 1st quarter allowed the most yards since that was the quarter in which Washington State had the most plays.  They ran 29 offensive plays in the 1st quarter and averaged only 12.67 plays per quarter in the remaining three quarters.  Double the plays resulted in approximately double the yardage.

The reason Washington State had so many plays in the 1st quarter was a combination of turnovers and USC’s low time of possession.  The 1st quarter displayed 3 turnovers by USC, which gave Washington State extra drives.  But, USC also scored very quickly in the 1st quarter, giving the ball back to Washington State in a hurry.  As noted in my offensive recap post, USC only ran 5 offensive plays in the 1st quarter.

If we look at the yardage gained per offensive play, we get a slightly different look at how our defense performed each quarter.

Notice that the 2nd quarter was actually the most productive in terms of yardage gained per play by Washington State.  It was also the quarter in which USC struggled the most offensively.

3rd Down Conversions

USC held Washington State to 43% on 3rd down conversions.  An interesting note is that Washington State was never in a 3rd and short situation.  Every single 3rd down had at least 4 yards to go to convert a 1st down.  In fact, the average distance to go for Washington State on 3rd down was 8.4 yards.  Great defense on 1st and 2nd downs.

Conclusions

It is difficult to know exactly how well our defense played against an over-matched Washington State offense.  The defense did hold Washington State to 6 points off of turnovers after the offense gave them the ball 3 times.  Penalties were reduced, but there were still 2 pass interference calls on USC.  Those are critical penalties as they give an automatic 1st down and also can give up to 15 yards.  I’d like to see our Defensive Backs reading the man they are covering more rather than searching frantically for the ball.  Washington State’s 2nd touchdown seemed to result because our DB was looking around for the ball and ran too far on an underthrown ball.  The touchdown could have had a better shot at being stopped had the defender kept his eyes on the WR, stayed with him, and put his hands up to swat the ball when the receiver’s hands went up.

I will try to do a preview post on the upcoming game at home versus Washington later this week.  Stay tuned.

Click here for the full excel spreadsheet.

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