USC at Colorado Offensive Recap

This post will look at USC’s offensive statistics in their win on the road against Colorado.  The post will start with the play calling by USC.  Then it will look at the average gain per down and field position stats.  Finally, we will look at the gain histogram for USC.

Play Calling

Overall, USC ran the ball 30 times (42%) and passed the ball 42 times (58%).  First let us look at the play calling by down.

USC favored the run on 1st and 3rd downs.  They passed the ball a little more than one and a half times more often than they ran on 1st down and passed twice as often as they ran on 3rd down.  2nd down was fairly balanced, although had a slight lean towards the pass as well.  The one time that USC went for it on 4th down was a run, but it was also late in the 4th quarter and a 4th and 3.

Now let us look at the play calling by quarter.

USC started the leaning heavily on the pass.  For the entire first half, USC was passing over twice as often as they were running the ball.  Once USC established a comfortable lead by halftime, they started to settle in to more balance in the 3rd quarter and finally leaned on the run in the final quarter.

USC did exploit a lot of mismatches in their passing attack.  They isolated defenders against Woods and Lee and simply allowed the athletic talent gap take over.  This lead to a lot of deep passing attempts by Barkley.  I hope to analyze these plays by USC sometime this week if I have time.

Average Gain by Down

Let us look at the average distance to go versus the average gain per down.

USC had very good gains in this game.  USC averaged 5.9 yards gained on 1st down.  41% of their 1st downs gained at least half the distance to go.  26% of USC’s 1st downs converted for new first downs.  2nd down was just as successful with the average gain being only 0.18 yards shy of their average distance to go.  A very strong 50% of USC’s 2nd downs converted for a new 1st down.  As for 3rd down, USC gained a whopping average of 12.58 yards.  USC converted 64% of their 3rd downs.  This includes both of their 3rd and shorts, three out of five (60%) 3rd and mediums, and two out of five (40%) 3rd and longs.

Field Position

USC had an average starting field position on their own 24 yard line, which isn’t particularly strong.  In addition, USC took only 38% of their offensive snaps on the Colorado side of the field.  At first this is quite surprising given how well USC played offensively.  However, on closer inspection, this is due to the sheer number of long touchdowns that USC had.  USC had touchdown plays of 33, 5, 15, 25, 45, and 19 yards out.  This means their average touchdown play was 23.7 yards away from the goalline.  Only the touchdown play of five yards was threatening at the goalline and only half of their touchdowns came from within the red zone.

Another way to look at it is the number of plays and yards each drive took.  USC averaged 6.55 plays per drive.  However, these drives averaged 52.4 yards per drive.  In fact, there was only one drive in which USC failed to produce a first down.  This was the drive that Matt Barkley threw an interception on the second play of the drive.

Gain Histogram

Let us look at USC’s gain histogram.  Remember that the passing histogram only shows completed passes.

USC had a strong showing offensively in this gain histogram.  There were only seven plays shown here that show negative or no gain.  Add in incomplete passes and this number still only increases to 21 total plays, or only 29% of USC’s total plays. USC’s runs in particular look strong as there were only five runs which underperformed and failed to produce at least three yards.

At the same time, there are a very large amount of explosive plays.  15 plays gained 15 or more yards.  This accounts for 21% of USC’s offensive plays.  These explosive plays comprised of both runs and passes.


USC’s offense performed quite well offensively.  There were some hiccups in the game, namely an interception by Barkley and some uncharacteristic drops from both Woods and Lee.  Otherwise, USC’s offense completely overwhelmed Colorado and had some big gains.  USC simply had better athletes and worked the mismatches on the field.  Hopefully I can go back and review some of the touchdown plays for analysis in a later blog post.  Keep a look out for it.


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