“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
The past is not always a reliable source for current trajectory; however, short-term trends can be very insightful. Out of a mixture of curiosity and boredom, I was looking through the yearly stats available on the Pac-12 website. Then I decided to go a step further and exported all the available stats from 2010-2017 into Excel and started playing with the numbers. Obviously, it comes of no surprise that our beloved Ducks had some struggles in the past few years, but the point of this article is not to rehash tired lines or belittle previous coaches. I just have fun playing with numbers and thought some of you may appreciate or enjoy a visual of the Ducks’ offensive and defensive trends over the past eight seasons. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Points Per Game
Our offense hit a peak 49.6 PPG in 2012 and have gradually declined ever since. 2017 saw an increase of 0.6 PPG from 2016 and likely would have been more had Herbert been healthy all season. 2018 is hard to project with another coaching change, but I would expect this number to be back above 40 this coming fall. On defense, the improvement under Leavitt was incredible. The Ducks surrendered 12.1 fewer PPG than in 2016. For year two under the Pepsi fueled maniac, look for this number to continue to decrease to around 21 PPG.
Yards Per Game
This chart has been one of the more interesting ones to review as the offense and defense have had an almost perfect inverse relationship until this past season. Intuitively, this makes sense as the offense gains fewer yards, they are on the field less and the defense will then give up more yards. Before 2017, the last time the Ducks gave up under 370 YPG was in 2010 when they held opposing teams to 346 YPG.
Yards Per Play
I believe YPP is very underappreciated and can be much more telling than YPG. For a prime example, look at the Chip Kelly blur offense years. Oregon was never viewed as having an “elite” defense since most sportswriters only seem to care about ranking teams by YPG. However, the Ducks scored quickly and efficiently causing the defense to be on the field for more plays, inevitably resulting in more yards even though they regularly ranked in the top-25 in YPP.
Yards Per Game
Member when the Ducks regularly led the Pac-12 in rushing? I member. We all knew our defense was a liability in 2015, but did you know we gave up 306.5 YPG on the ground? Remember Ezekiel Elliott gashing our D to close out 2014? Yeah, that defense gave up 141.1 fewer YPG than the 2015 unit. Yeesh. On a positive note, 2017 was the lowest average since 2010 at 128.5 YPG. Let’s see if this number can drop a bit more to an even 100 in 2018.
Yards Per Rush
This was another interesting stat to review. In the last year of the LaMichael James & Kenjon Barner tandem, the Ducks averaged an impressive 6.7 YPR! This past year, the Ducks had their lowest average of the past eight years at 5.2 YPR. On defense, we saw a gradual increase in YPR followed by drastic improvement in 2017. 3.5 YPR was the lowest average since 2010.
Yards Per Game
Who knows what this may have looked like without an unfortunate broken collarbone. Though there are some questions at receiver heading into 2018, the offense should see a much higher mark. I’m predicting about 270 YPG through the air this year. On defense, I’m hoping this will be the unit’s area of greatest improvement. Look for the young secondary to mature and drop this number to 210 YPG.
Yards Per Pass
Aside from the numbers with Mariota and Vernon Adams under center, this statistic has been consistently around 8 YPP on offense. The defense improved by 0.6 YPP from 2016 to 2017, but still has a way to go before it will no longer be considered a liability. I expect this to drop by a similar margin to about 6 YPP this fall.
The Ducks frequently got off to slow starts in 2016 and were outscored in the first quarter 144-82. Both the offense and defense improved in 2017, but the defense needs to continue improving for the Ducks to take control of games early.
The 2014 team absolutely dominated the second quarter. Outscoring opponents 238-98, this was the most dominant quarter in any of the eight years analyzed. For the 2017 team, this was their best quarter on offense and their second best on defense.
Yikes. Obviously, you don’t want an opponent scoring more than you do, especially in the second half. Unfortunately, this has been the trend in recent memory. The Ducks only managed to score 69 points (nice) in the third quarter all year. Cristobal absolutely must get this to change.
The most important quarter of the game. This was the 2017 defense’s best quarter, surrendering only 68 points all season. The offense still struggled to finish games, but at least the Ducks scored more than their opponent in the fourth quarter last year. While reviewing the quarterly scoring stats, I’m most impressed by the 2010 team. They usually got off to a slow start and had a close first quarter, but as soon as the second quarter started they dominated the rest of the game. Go back and look at the scoring offense and scoring defense of that 2010 team. I hope to see that level of separation again.
Any thoughts or insights from the charts? Leave a comment!