ASU Offensive Preview

This post will look at ASU’s offense in preparation for this weekend’s home game against the Sun Devils.  The post will look at the play calling by ASU, the conversion rates, and play success.

Play Calling

Overall, ASU is a passing team.  They have passed the ball 299 times (57%) and run the ball 230 times (43%).  Let us look at the play calling based on a few various situations.  First we’ll start with the play calling by down.

ASU starts quite balanced on 1st down.  2nd down leans slightly towards the pass.  But 3rd down is 77% passing and only 23% running.  Even given that ASU has an average distance to go of 7.01 yards on 3rd down, this is a high percentage to be throwing the ball.

Now lets look at the play calling based on field position.

ASU will typically pass the ball more than run anywhere outside of the redzone.  They pose most threat of throwing the ball at the beginning of their drives between their own 25 and midfield.

Lets take a look at the play calling by quarter.

ASU passes more than they run in all quarters.  However, the gap is much more pronounced in the 1st half.  This is especially true of the 2nd quarter, where ASU has passed nearly twice as often as they have run the ball.

Conversion Rates

ASU has a moderate 3rd down conversion rate.  My program logs them at 44% conversions on 3rd down.  The NCAA logs a slightly lower 40.5%, good for a #53 ranking in 3rd down conversions.  Lets look at their conversion rate per down.

ASU has a very healthy conversion rate on 1st and 2nd down, converting 21% on 1st down and 36% on 2nd down.  Lets take a closer look at 3rd down though.

ASU converts on 56% of their 3rd and shorts.  This isn’t much more than their 3rd and medium conversion rate at 50%.  Much of this has to do withe their play calling on 3rd and short vs 3rd and medium.  On 3rd and 1, ASU has run the ball 12 times (86%) and passed the ball only twice (14%).  This is fairly typical play calling.  Run the ball for the easy one yard gain and do an occasional play action pass to a high completion percentage route.  However in the 3rd and 2-3 yard range, I was quite surprised by what I found in the play calling.  At that range, ASU ran the ball only three times (15%) and passed the ball 17 times (85%).  Similarly, in the 3rd and 4-7 yard range, ASU ran the ball three times (10%) and passed the ball 26 times (90%).  The reason why 3rd and short and 3rd and medium are very similar in conversion percentage is ASU is using similar play calling by passing the ball in almost all those situations.  Their passes on 3rd and 2-3 yards are probably completed for the same yards gained as their 3rd and medium plays.

Play Success

ASU is actually quite successful in passing the ball.  ASU’s completes 61% of their passes as a team.  They gain 7.62 yards per attempted throw and a whopping 12.5 yards per completion.  52 of their passes (17%) are explosive and gain 15 or more yards.  88 passes (29%) gain at least 10 yards or more.  However, running the ball isn’t quite as successful.  Only 15 runs (7%) have been explosive and gained 15 or more yards while 41 runs (18%) have been stopped for negative yardage or for no gain.  That is nearly one in five runs stopped behind the line.

However, ASU turns the ball over a lot.  They have turned the ball over 18 times this season (2.25 turnovers a game).  This is slightly skewed by the seven turnovers forced by Oregon, but even discounting that game turns out to 1.6 turnovers a game.


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