USC Midseason Offensive Comparative Statistics

Now that USC is in a bye week, this gives me some time to take a more in-depth look at the stats involved with USC.  In this post and the next, we will be looking into comparative stats.  This post will deal with the offensive side of the ball and the next post will deal with the defensive side.  First I will explain what a comparative stat is and the significance of them, then we will go over a few key comparative stats: total offense, passing offense, rushing offense, 3rd down conversions, and scoring offense.

What are Comparative Stats?

Comparative Stats look at a team’s production compared to what the opponent allows on average.  For instance, if USC were to gain only 250 yards of total offense against a mythical opponent, one might think “wow, USC’s offense is really bad.”  However, if this mythical opponent allows only 150 yards of total offense on average throughout a season, then suddenly the tune changes.  In this situation, USC has gained 100 yards more than what the opponent typically allowed, which shows a stronger USC offensive performance.

By using this over a number of games, you can see various trends on how good or bad a team is in a particular area.  A strong offense will consistently gain more yards than their opponents’ generally allow in various categories.  On the flip side, a poor offense will fall below the averages for comparative stats.

Please note that this is only part of the overall picture of football.  Winning in comparative stats in a particular game can be completely negated by committing turnovers, etc.  Using comparative stats is just one tool we can use to try to see how good a portion of a team is.

So with that in mind, let us look at some comparative stats for USC’s offense.

Total Offense

Lets take a look at how USC’s total offense compares to what their opponents’ typically allow.  Here is a chart which shows how many total offensive yards USC gained against each opponent (shown in Cardinal) vs what that team’s defense is credited for on their total yards defense (shown in Gold).

As can be seen in the chart, USC’s offense typically plays above the level of what the opponents’ defense gives up.  There were two games in which USC struggled offensively and fell below what the opponents typically allow: Virginia and Minnesota.  In the Virginia game, USC gained 329 total offensive yards while Virginia has given up an average of 380.67 this season.  Against Minnesota, USC gained 408 against Minnesota’s 414.29 average given up.  Let us look at trend line for the margin between USC’s total offense output and the defense’s average.

As can be seen here, the USC started off strong but dropped off quickly for game two.  However, since then, there has been an upwards trend.  This offense has been a work in progress as Kiffin slowly opened up the playbook.  Player development has also been very clear, especially in Barkley and Robert Woods.  On average, USC has gained 103.18 total yards more than their opponents have typically allowed.

Passing Offense

Lets take a look at how the passing offense has compared to what a defense typically allows.

Passing has been below the average allowed in only two contests: Minnesota and Washington.  The Washington game may have been a lot to do about the offense gameplan going into the game rather than a poor performance.  Washington’s defensive weakness was against the run and USC took full advantage over it.  In that game, Barkley only threw the ball 20 times, completing 14 of those passes.  A further look shows that USC averaged 9.3 yards per passing attempt, which was over the 7.61 yards per attempt that Washington typically allows.  Lets take a look at the margin trend graph.

At the beginning of the season, there is actually a downward trend up to the Washington game.  However, USC’s passing attack became explosive in the last two games.  This corresponds with the development of Robert Woods as a very dangerous receiving threat.  Teams could no longer double up against Ronald Johnson, which opens up a lot for both players.  On average, USC has passed for 73.05 yards more than their opponents have typically allowed.

Rushing Offense

Lets take a look at how the rushing offense stacks up against what a defense typically allows.

Again, the rushing game is generally above the average that the defense allows.  There are two games in which the rushing game fell below: the Virginia game and the Stanford game.  However, notice how much Bradford tore up Washington.  Lets take a look at the margin trend graph.

This graph is a lot more erratic but has seen a slight upwards trend overall from Game 2 onward.  Stanford was able to really bottle up our rushing attack and even force USC to -49.17 yards below what Stanford typically allows.  The bright side is in more recent games, when the rushing attack has failed to produce (ex: Stanford), the passing attack has put up strong numbers.  When the passing attack has failed to produce numbers (ex: Washington), the rushing attack has put up strong numbers.  On average, USC has rushed for 30.13 yards more than their opponents have typically allowed.

3rd Down Conversions

Lets see how USC did offensively on 3rd down conversions compared to their opposing defense’s averages.

USC’s 3rd down offense has been mildly above average.  Against Virginia and Minnesota, USC has been performing less than the defense has typically allowed.  Against Washington, it was about equal.  The rest of the games showed above average performances.  Let’s look at the trend chart.

This one shows no real trend up or down and is a little erratic.  But USC has been in the positive margin (playing better than the defense typically allows) in four out of seven games.  This will be an area which will need more consistency to outperform the opposing defense.  On average, USC is converting 10.1% more 3rd downs than their opponents typically allow.

Scoring Offense

Lets take a look at how our scoring offense has performed compared to how each defense typically allows.

As with the other charts, USC has generally been above average in most games.  There are two games in which USC basically matched the average: Minnesota and Washington.  There is one game which USC was below average: Virginia.  So lets take a look at the trend chart.

USC started strong against Hawaii before dropping down to where the balance point for the offense probably was at the beginning of the season.  Since then, there has been a general upwards trend as the offense has improved recently in the season.  On average, USC is scoring 9 more points than their opponents typically allow.


USC’s offense is strong overall in almost all areas.  Additionally, there has been an upwards trend in the majority of categories.  If the offense can continuously outperform the opposing defense not only in straight up numbers but against the opponent’s average, it shows a strong offensive attack.  Look for USC to become more consistent in 3rd down conversions and hopefully to end this season we will stay above the opponent’s averages the majority of the time like the other categories.

Sometime this weekend, I will post comparative stats for the USC defense.  Then, time permitting, I may take a quick look into what types of offensive formations that USC employs.  Finally, I will do a preview to the upcoming Oregon game.


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