USC vs Washington Offensive Recap

This post will look at USC’s offensive staistics in their win against Washington.  We will first look at the play calling by USC.  Then we will look at conversion rates and the yards per quarter.

Play Calling

Overall, USC was fairly balanced.  USC ran the ball 38 times  (54%) and passed the ball 32 times (46%).  Let us look at the play calling by down first.

USC relied on the run on every down.  However, I suspected that this might have been due to USC relying more on the run in the second half, so let us look at the play calling by quarter.

As seen here, USC relied on the pass on the 1st and 3rd quarters but relied on the run in the 2nd and 4th quarters.  USC only passed the ball twice in the fourth quarter.  Let us take a closer look at some interesting drives for play calling.

On USC’s first drive, USC starting with seven straight passes in a row, taking advantage of Washington’s weak secondary which ranked #113 in the country in passing defense.  Once it approached midfield, USC followed up with three straight runs and a punt.

Moving into the second quarter, USC came out with eight straight passes.  That is when the drive seemingly stalled.  However, USC called a well designed fake punt.  Once this occurred, USC went with five straight running plays to finish the touchdown drive.  The next drive started with five runs, an incomplete pass, a rush by McNeal, then a touchdown pass by Barkley.

As expected, the final real by drive by USC contained six straight runs.

Conversion Rates

USC converted on 47% of its 3rd downs.  This included three out of four (75%) of its 3rd and shorts, two out of three (67%) 3rd and mediums, and two out of eight (25%) of its 3rd and longs.

So let us look at how USC got into those situations in the first place.  Let us look at the average distance to go versus the average gain per down.

Notice that USC struggled mightily on first down.  USC averaged only 3.9 yards gained on first down.  On first down, Barkley gained only 4.4 yards per attempt and we were rushing for only 3.5 yards per carry.  USC did much better on second down, which was their best down.  On second down, Barkley gained 8.4 yards per attempt and USC rushed for 9.7 yards per carry.  Of course, the rushing stats were boosted by a 79 yard touchdown on 2nd down.  Take out that rush and the rushing average drops to 3.4 yards per carry, comparable to first down.  Third down was very average for USC.  Barkley gained only 4.0 yards per attempt while the rushing attack gained a much healthier 6.1 yards per carry.  Take out the high point of Tyler’s 24 yard gain and it drops down to 3.6 yards per carry.

Yards per Quarter

First let us look at the yards per quarter.

USC held fairly decent production in the first three quarters.  However, for whatever reason, the fourth quarter had almost no offensive production by USC.  On further inspection, USC had only 10 offensive  plays in this quarter.  Compare this to the other quarters which had 18, 23, and 19 respectively.  However, the production is still low.  Much of this might be attributed to trying to run out the clock.

Let us look real quickly at the yards gained per quarter divided by play type.

As can be seen here, USC had various success throughout the game.  USC had much success on the pass in the first quarter.  However, the second and third quarters tended towards the run.  Notice that USC gained only 29 yards on the pass in the second quarter.  Barkley was five of nine (56%), but averaged only 5.8 yards per completion.  Much of this was due to a swing pass to Marqise Lee which lost nine yards.  Without this play, Barkley averaged 9.5 yards per completion, which is still a bit on the low side.

As a side note, the yards per play stayed in roughly the same ratio as the overall yards by play type graph shown.


I left the game thinking this wasn’t the strongest game for USC’s offense.  They seemed a bit lackluster, but did just enough to win this game without much trouble.  Even when the game was close, USC needed a fake punt to set them up to create separation.  Once they had the lead, USC simply rode their momentum, defense, and special teams to win this game comfortably.  How much of this was USC only doing enough to get them into next week’s game against Oregon without tipping too much of their hand?  We’ll have to see how well USC’s offense plays when they need to against a strong Oregon team.


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