Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Drawn & quartered: Pac-12 scoring check
By Ted Miller
What is your team's best quarter? Worst? And what does it mean?
While it's probably a mistake to read too much into how a team does quarter by quarter -- the final score is what counts -- it might provide some tidbits of insight.
The baseline, of course, is this: Good teams are going to win most every quarter and bad teams will lose most every quarter. But what does it mean if your team starts fast or slowly? Or owns the third quarter? Or sputters in the second?
The conventional wisdom is teams that do well in the third are good at making halftime adjustments, but coaches often snort at such talk.
Former Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter once painstakingly walked reporters through the halftime process to help them understand the small window for making significant schematic changes. Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly was at his snarky best -- even as he was being flattered -- when asked about "halftime adjustments."
Kelly, however, would admit that the occasional slow start by his offense was due to a feeling out period, where he and his assistants were taking the measure of what a defense was trying to do. That's the nature of football -- punching and counterpunching, reading and reacting.
Still, you probably shouldn't read too much into these numbers. While it's interesting that UCLA and Washington were very good in the third quarter last year while Arizona State -- curiously -- was not, the salient fact is the Sun Devils beat both.
A look at how each team fared by quarter last season.
Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Washington were the only Pac-12 teams to win every quarter.
California was the only Pac-12 team outscored in all four quarters. The Bears gave up 181 points in the first quarter, the worst defensive quarter in the conference.
The highest scoring quarter belonged to Arizona State, with 192 points in the second. Washington had 184 points in the third and Oregon 182 points in the first.
The best defensive quarter was USC in the first, holding foes to 37 points. Washington yielded 44 in the first and UCLA gave up 44 in the third.
Arizona State was dominant in every quarter, other than the third, when it was outscored 109-99.
Stanford was dominant in every quarter other than the fourth, which it lost 85-92, suggesting the Cardinal didn't fight for a large margin of victory.
Oregon was dominant in all four quarters and, despite that, posted the best fourth-quarter margin of 78 points (137-59), suggesting the Ducks enjoyed producing a large margin of victory.
Stanford yielded 60 or fewer points in each of the first three quarters. Only four teams produced even a single quarter with 60 or fewer points: Oregon in the third (47), UCLA in the third (44), USC in the first (37) and Washington in the first (44).
Colorado was outscored in the first three quarters but won the fourth decisively, 130-70. That suggests Mike McIntyre's team didn't quit.
USC won 10 games last year despite being outscored in both the third and fourth quarters. Only Cal and Washington State matched that dubious distinction.
Utah was outscored only in the fourth quarter. Oregon State was outscored only in the first.
Washington's 119-point margin (184-65) in the third was the largest for any quarter. Oregon's 109-point margin in the first quarter was second (182-73). Arizona State had the largest second-quarter margin at 77 points (192-115).