For many football fans, including this writer, looking at the statistical performance of both teams and individuals holds a special intrigue.
When you look at the matchup between Washington State (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) and Arizona (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12), there are some fascinating stats to compare and contrast.
It struck me to share selected key areas which drew attention for consideration on this Crimson Friday leading toward the ridiculously early kickoff Saturday at 11am PST in Tucson, AZ. I don’t even know if my DVR is working at such an inopportune time of day. And yes, there is no stat comparison for either team playing before lunchtime…
Here are some good numbers for comparison:
- WSU junior quarterback Connor Halliday is on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards this season, yet the Cougars have a lot of work in front of them if post season play is to become a reality. Halliday is averaging 2 interceptions per game. For a young football team, turning the ball over repeatedly can effectively squash the emotion needed to be successful in the Pac-12. But when you look at the number of pass attempts Halliday is averaging, nearly 54, there are going to be a few mistakes along the way.
- Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey is on pace to rush for more yardage than any other player in the Pac-12 and is likely to crack 1,700 yards on the season. When Carey is able to do his thing, the Wildcats are very tough to beat. For WSU to keep this game close, they will have to minimize the yards Carey picks up after contact. The guy is going to get his, but if the Cougs can keep him in front of them Carey’s impact on the game can be neutralized. A powerful back with a low center of gravity, it will take more than one WSU defender to bring this potential 1st round NFL pick down.
- The Arizona offense is averaging 459 yards per game. Much of that comes on the ground and is a key reason the ‘Cats have earned 6-wins already. By controlling the line of scrimmage on offense, Arizona accomplishes two critical goals. They put together long scoring drives which light up the scoreboard and break down the will of their opponents. WSU ranks near the bottom of the conference when it comes to stopping the run. Couple that with the fact the Cougar ‘D’ has not done a good job of stopping…or even slowing down option quarterbacks. They will face a good one Saturday in the person of senior B. J. Denker who is deft at running option-style play.
- There was a moment in time early this year where senior running back Daniel Jenkins was in the process of transferring to Washington State. He was looking for a ball club where he might be the featured back. The only way Jenkins would see the field staying at Arizona was if Ka’Deem Carey were injured or the game was a blowout. But before he could pull the trigger, Jenkins was convinced to stay in Tucson. Used sparingly, Jenkins has nearly matched the rushing yardage of the entire Cougar team by posting a net 376 yards on just 57 carries. As a team, WSU has netted just 469 yards on 156 attempts. Let’s not complete the math, OK?
- The Cougar defense has 12 interceptions in their first 9-games. They totaled just 15 picks for the entire 2012 season. If WSU can get the job done along the line of scrimmage when they are on defense, look for a talented Cougar secondary to be a game changer. Everyone following Pac-12 football knows Deone Bucannon is one of the best safeties in all of college football this year. With 9-games under his belt, expect freshman Daquawn Brown to play like a veteran over the rest of this season and the balance of his Washington State career. This kid is something special.
3 for 2
- Washington State has 3-games remaining on their regular season schedule. The Cougs haven’t been to a post season game since their 2003 Holiday Bowl victory over No. 4 Texas. This young Cougar football team is a hungry bunch looking for a taste of bowl play. Cougar Nation is starved for the satisfying feeling which accompanies a bowl bound team. To secure the possibility of a bowl invitation, WSU must win 2 of their last three games. That task will be within reach if the Cougs can play up to their potential Saturday…on the road. They know what it takes to do that very thing. Just ask the Trojans. Second thought, might not be a wise idea to bring up that subject with the folks at USC.
- One point coach Mike Leach and his staff pound on is individual and team focus. His mantra is simple and direct. There is only one game scheduled to be played this week. Focus on the job at hand which is playing the best you can against Arizona. This will be a successful week for Washington State football if they can emerge victorious over Arizona in their only game scheduled.