USC vs ASU Offensive Recap

This post will look at the play calling by USC’s offense in various situations against ASU.  It will then look at conversion rates and drive statistics.  This will be followed by the gain histogram and the yards and points per quarter.

Play Calling

USC ran the ball 39 times (49%) and passed the ball 41 times (51%).  But let us first look at the play calling by quarter.

Overall, USC played fairly balanced, even with their struggling running attack (according to Kiffin) and ASU’s strong rushing defense.  The ASU run defense allows 3.25 yards per carry, good to rank them #23 in the country in run D.  This is likely the reason why USC came out passing the ball early.  Unfortunately, the pass was not very successful to start the game as the first three passes lead to no yards (two incompletions and a pass for no gain).  The rest of the game was played fairly balanced.

Now let us take a look at the play calling by field position.

USC was fairly balanced in most areas on the field.  However, the interesting thing is when USC entered the redzone.  Typically, teams tend to run the ball more here, as the real estate you have to pass to is very limited as you get close to the endzone.  However,  USC opted to pass the ball nearly four times as often as they ran in the redzone.  When USC was goal to go, they only ran the ball once while passing four times.

Conversion Rates and Drive Statistics

Let us look at the conversion percentages for USC by down.

USC was held to a fairly low 1st and 3rd down conversion rate.  However, USC converted and inordinate amount of 2nd downs.  Almost half of USC’s 2nd downs were converted for a new set of downs.  Due to this, this left a lot of just the failed plays to reach 3rd downs.  This lead the average distance to go on 3rd down to be a long 8.2 yards.  In fact, USC had seven 3rd downs which were 3rd and long and they only converted two of them (29%).

Prior to the USC game, ASU’s opponents were starting on average at their own 49 yard line.  USC also had an average starting field position at their own 49 yard line.  Furthermore, 57% of USC’s snaps took place on the ASU side of the field.  However, five of USC’s drives (38%) ended without USC gaining a single first down.

Gain Histogram

Lets look at the gain histogram for USC on the run and the pass.  Incomplete passes have been removed for ease of reading the graph.

USC’s run struggled against ASU’s strong rushing defense.  While only two runs (5%) were stopped for a loss or for no gain, 21 runs (54%) were stopped for a gain of three or less yards.  USC was able to break six runs (15%) for a gain of 10 or more yards.  On the passing side of the ball, 23 passes (45%), including incompletions, gained three or less yards.  Nine passes (22%) gained at least 10 yards.

Yards and Points per Quarter

Lets first look at the yards gained per quarter.

USC struggled mightily in the 1st quarter.  USC’s first two drives of the game were three and outs.  This was followed by a 48 yard drive which resulted in a missed field goal.  Finally, the last drive of the quarter only had two plays before the quarter ended.  USC bounced back strong in the 2nd quarter and also in the 4th quarter.  Now let us look at the points per quarter.

USC actually gained the most points in the 3rd quarter even though they gained more yards in the 2nd and 4th quarters.  This was because of the defensive interception returned 76 yards for a touchdown and the resulting two point conversion.  The 4th quarter scored only 5 points, two of which came off of a defensive two point conversion.  This quarter unfortunately featured a USC interception returned for a touchdown, two punts, and a FG.


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