ASU Defensive Preview

This post will look at the defensive side of the ball for ASU in preparation for tomorrow’s game in the Coliseum.  The post will look at the yards allowed histogram by ASU’s defense, the yards and points allowed per quarter, conversion rates allowed, and the average field position for ASU’s opponents.

Yards Allowed Histogram

Lets take a look at the yardage allowed histogram for runs and passes by ASU’s opponents.

ASU has allowed quite a few explosive pass plays.  29% of the opponent’s passes gained at least 10 yards, including 17% of opponent’s passes are gained for 15 or more yards.  Pressure wise, ASU is ranked #56 in the nation in sacks with 2 sacks a game.

On the running front, ASU has a very strong run defense.  This does not bode well for USC’s somewhat struggling rushing attack (especially with Kiffin recently saying our rushing offense was overrated).  A whopping 63% of ASU’s opponent’s runs are stopped for 3 yards or less.  30% of runs, nearly one in three, are stopped for no gain or for a loss.  On the flip side, 12% of runs against ASU’s defense gained 10 or more years including 9% which are explosive with a 15+ yard gain.

Yards and Points per Quarter

Lets look real quick at the yards and the points allowed by ASU’s defense per quarter.

Like Oregon, ASU’s defense gets better as the game goes on.  They allow the majority of yards and points in the 2nd quarter and the least amount in the 4th quarter.  The 24 points they’ve allowed all season in the 4th quarter is half the amount as the 3rd quarter (the quarter with the second least points allowed).

Conversion Rates

Lets take a quick look at what rate ASU’s opponent’s convert for new 1st downs.  ASU allows their opponent’s to convert a decent amount of early downs.  20% of 1st downs and 39% of 2nd downs are converted, leaving only 54 plays to reach 3rd down this season out of 270 total plays that opponent’s have taken on 1st down (20%).  Lets take a further look into the average distance to go and the average gain per down for ASU’s opponents.

ASU’s opponent’s actually have a very high to-go per down.  Both 2nd down and 3rd downs are greater than 8 yards to go, which is ridiculously high.  But as noted before, ASU does allow a lot of 1st and 2nd downs through, which may be why the 3rd down average distance to go is so high since only the failed attempts make it to 3rd down.  This is why ASU is ranked so lowly on 1st down defense (#50 with 18.63 first downs allowed per game) compared to their high 3rd down conversion defense ranking (#9 with a 30.1% 3rd down conversion rate held).

Average Field Position

This was one very surprising stat to me when I punched the numbers through.  The average starting field position for ASU’s opponents is their own 49 yard line.  That’s starting midfield on average.  Remember ASU’s high turnover rate I mentioned in the Offensive Preview.  Those turnovers are really killing ASU.  In fact, ASU’s opponent’s typically score 5.5 points per game off of turnovers.  That is pretty huge.

Yet there is another odd stat that I noticed which is associated to the field position.  ASU’s opponents take only 38% of their offensive snaps on ASU’s side of the field.  How is it that ASU’s opponent’s start at midfield on average, yet take only 38% of their snaps on ASU’s side of the field?  Honestly, the numbers don’t tell enough for me to know.  Maybe ASU gives up a lot of very explosive plays that score quickly, so the opponent’s don’t need to take many snaps on ASU’s side.  Maybe the turnovers are given up deep in ASU territory, vastly affecting the average starting field position while the opponent’s only take a few snaps before they score.  Or maybe their defense is just good at stopping the opponent’s before they reach midfield.

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