Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Calming down from my furor over Saturday’s debacle, I decided to take a more empirical look at the statistics and looked for anything stuck out. Given that there are only two data points to consider, none of this should be considered conclusive evidence for anything. However, they do provide a glimpse at the problems and deficiencies plaguing our team that many of you have already mentioned here.
Average Time of Possession. It’s no surprise that given our offensive and defensive woes, that we are not holding on to the ball long enough. If our opponent has a higher time of possession, their offense and our defense are on the field longer, and that usually means more points for them. It also means our offense isn’t sustaining long drives and we’re not converting our 3rd downs (more on that latter). I think even more revealing is our average time of possession by quarter:
Average Total Possession Time 23:37 36:23
1st Quarter 5:11 9:48
2nd Quarter 7:26 7:33
3rd Quarter 6:20 8:40
4th Quarter 4:38 10:21
When I look at this breakdown by quarter, a few things stick out for me. First of all, our time of possession in the 1st Quarter is terrible. It’s almost half that of our opponents. This suggests to me that our offense needs almost an entire quarter before getting into any sort of rhythm. It can also shows that our defense isn’t getting the other team off the field. By the time the 2nd Quarter comes around, both sides seem to find some rhythm. After halftime, we seem to struggle again. We come out flat and aren’t able to sustain long drives. The 1st and 3rd Quarter times of possession are truly telling because these are the times when our team should be rested and prepared. No surprise, our 4th Quarter numbers are pretty horrid. By that time, our defense is gassed, and teams lean on us by keeping the ball on the ground. Time of possession directly correlates to my next point.
Scoring by Quarter. Given that we didn't score against Stanford, there really isn't much to see. However, some trends do stick out for me when I look at the scoring breakdown by quarter.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
UCLA................ 0 10 3 9 22
Opponents........... 17 3 25 21 66
First thing worth noting is that we haven’t scored a single point in the 1st Quarter yet. As I mentioned before, this is when our team should be fresh, energetic and prepared. Yet, our lack of offense here is disappointing. Similarly, our defense isn’t stopping drives, nor are they keeping points off the board. The 1st Quarter, for me, sets an important tone for the game. When we’re not scoring any points in the 1st Quarter, and not sustaining drives, it shows me that our team isn’t showing up ready to play, and is lacking that intensity, aggression and sense of urgency to set the tone. By the look of these numbers, we get completely dominated in the 2nd half. Opponents outscored us 25 to 3 in the 3rd Quarter. This is supposed to be the time when halftime adjustments kick in and we should be generating more points. Yet, we don’t get any momentum going into the 2nd half.
3rd Down Conversions. For those who watched the first two games, this stat shouldn't be a surprise, yet it's still painful to see.
3rd Down Conversions 4 for 22 17 for 32
It’s pretty clear here. Too many 3 and outs for our offense and very porous defense on 3rd down. We won’t win too many games if we don’t do better in this area. Our defense is allowing teams to convert around 50% of their 3rd downs. The worse part about this is that some of those happen during 3rd and long situations when our defense puts little to no pressure on the QB. If the defense is feeling gassed and spewing chunks on the sidelines, then they need to do a better job getting teams off the field. A little pressure via blitz packages wouldn’t hurt.
Turnovers. Call it a new offense, or lack of fundamentals, but we’ve been bad at protecting the ball. Our offense has been responsible for 6 fumbles (3 lost), and 4 interceptions. On the other side of the ball, our defense has caused 3 fumbles (2 lost) and 0 interceptions. I think our defense could do a better job attacking the ball when tackling a player. The one thing I noticed about the Stanford defenders is that they constantly tried to strip the ball whenever they wrapped up. That shows solid defensive fundamentals. At this point, I’d just be happy if we stopped arm tackling runners. I’m not surprised by our lack of picks so far. Our front 4 hasn’t been putting enough pressure on the QB to make a bad throw.
I could go on listing more stats, but these were the four that stuck out the most to me because of the differences between us and our opponents. Again, these are only from two games, so it’s far too early to draw any conclusions from them. Yet, they do provide a baseline for improvement. I’m going to focus on these areas in our games ahead and will try to update these stats as the season progresses. There is obviously much room for improvement, and I’m anxious to see what adjustments we’ve made against Houston this Saturday.