Washington at USC Offensive Recap

USC was handed its first loss of the season this past Saturday in front of the home crowd.  In a game whose ending was reminiscent of last year, Washington booted a 32 yard FG in the final seconds to win the game.

Offensively, USC rolled up 484 yards and 32 points.  Out of the 10 possessions, 4 ended in TDs, 2 ended in FGs (1 made, 1 missed), 1 was an unsuccessful 35 second scramble to try to score before the half, 2 ended in punts, and 1 ended in a fumble.  As was expected, USC pounded the ball early and often to the tune of nearly 300 yards on the ground, a 7.6 yard per carry average, and 4 rushing touchdowns.

In this post, we will look at the play calling by USC’s offense, conversion percentages, and the run and pass gain histogram.

Play Calling

USC ran the ball quite a bit against Washington.  It isn’t surprising given that Washington ranks 113th in rushing defense.  First let us look at the run vs pass play calling by down.

As can be seen, the name of the game for USC was run run run.  3rd down was the only down in which we really passed a lot compared to running.  Here’s a look at the run vs pass play calling by quarter.

From the chart, it is pretty easy to tell how much USC tended to run across the board.  The 2nd quarter shows a nearly balanced attack, but 5 of those 11 passes came on the final drive of the half when USC had only 29 seconds to try to get into scoring position starting from their own 23 yard line.  Other than that drive, USC stuck with their initial gameplan pretty much the entire game.

Conversions

Lets look at the conversion percentages by USC’s offense per down.

It is a little bit odd that USC had a higher percentage at converting 2nd downs compared to 3rd downs.  In fact, USC converted nearly as high a percentage of 1st downs as it did 3rd downs.  Lets take a look at the average distance to go for USC by down.

USC’s average distance to go actually increased from 2nd to 3rd down.  It looks like USC converted all the easy 2nd downs which left a bunch of 3rd and longs which were difficult to convert.  Let us look at some of the situations that brought these long yardage 3rd downs.

  • In the 1st quarter, a holding penalty brought us from a 2nd and 2 to a 2nd and 12.  Barkley’s incomplete pass made this a 3rd and 12.  USC settled for a short 2 yard pass to Havili and then punted on 4th and 10.
  • In the 2nd quarter, a delay of game penalty brought about a 1st and 15.  Barkley was stopped for a loss of 1 yard (I’m assuming he scrambled and was sacked).  On 2nd and 16, Bradford was stopped for a loss of 1 yard.  On a long 3rd and 17, USC attempted to throw to Butler but it was incomplete.
  • In the 4th quarter, a rush of 1 followed by a rush which lost 1 yard found us in 3rd and 10.  Barkley was able to complete a pass to Ronald Johnson for 13 yards to convert the 3rd and long.  Immediately afterward, a rush of 2 followed by a rush which lost 1 yard brought us to another 3rd and long with 8 yards to go.  This time, the pass was incomplete and USC settled for a FG on 4th and 8.

Gain Histogram

Lets look at the histograms.

The running game was the staple of our offense against a Washington defense which ranked 113th in the nation.  It did well in that it produced six explosive run plays (16% of total runs) which gained 15 or more yards.  A total of 16 runs (42% of total runs) gained a healthy 8 or more yards.  On the flip side, 13 runs (34% of total runs) failed to gain more than 3 yards.

Passing wise, the completed passes gained fairly good yardage.  Other than incomplete passes (not shown in graph) and a 2 yard dump off that Barkley made to Havili on a 3rd and 12, the fewest yards gained by a pass was 7 yards.  There were even 5 completions which gained at least 15 yards.

Conclusion

USC’s offense moved the ball well against Washington.  Unfortunately, it was not able to move the ball well enough to pull away in this game.  The offense had an opportunity to put the game away late in the 4th quarter, but failed to produce points on a missed FG.  I will do a little more analysis and evaluation of that end game strategy/scenario later this week, so keep an eye out for that.

Upcoming is the more depressing post of the defensive statistical analysis.  Look for that.

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