Two opposing perspectives on Utah – From Stanford fans

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    • #5106

      Wilson’s Mustache
      Ute Fan

      I don’t know what you consider respect. Two of three posters who have ranked the Pac 12 teams ranked them first. Another ranked them second. And Mick claimed Stanford could beat them.

      But if you want some lack of respect, I guess it’s up to me.
      I am not yet sold on Utah as the class of the Pac 12, though I certainly could see them winning the conference. There are a few issues.

      First, everyone keeps talking about their rugged defense. In this very thread, winflop says, “but I also wonder if they’ve [Stanford] faced a defense as good as Utah’s – or if they will the rest of the season.”
      Well, Utah’s defense is ranked 67th in yds allowed per game (6th in conference), and 74th in yds/play (9th). Their calling cards last year were sacks and tackles for loss. Currently they are in a multiple tie for 47th in sacks/game (6th) and 109th in tackles for loss/game (tie 10th). This compares to last year when they were 1st (1st) and 6th (1st).
      Their defense is not bad, but so far it’s not as good as last year.

      Another stat that is generally believed to be fairly predictive is yards gained differential – with per play useful for taking out pace of play. In the Pac 12 right now we have:
      Team Off yds/play Def yds/play Differential
      U$C 7.45 5.04 2.41
      Stanford 6.72 4.78 1.94
      UCLA 6.11 4.78 1.33
      UW 5.59 4.44 1.15
      Arizona 6.70 5.59 1.11
      c.a.l. 6.62 5.55 1.07
      Oregon 6.71 5.84 0.87
      ASU 5.72 5.24 0.48
      Colorado 5.59 5.45 0.14
      Utah 5.57 5.63 -0.06
      OSU 4.71 5.67 -0.96


      1. It’s really quite remakrable to be 5-0 and have a negative yds/play differential. In thinking about what other undefeated team might have such a stat, I thought of MSU – but no they are at +0.36; Florida – +1.20; Clemson – +1.47.
      I think their special teams are good, but they don’t really stand out in most categories (though they are #3 in the country in punt return yards/game).
      They have done this primarily through turnover margin. They are #1 in the country and #1 in the conference by a mile at +2.0 per game (second is c.a.l. at +0.83/game).
      Is that sustainable?

      My comment was related to the comment by the OP, “D is overrated and O is underwhelming”

      Well… I applaud you for your well reasoned post… but

      Utah has beaten two teams who would otherwise be unbeaten, Low APR U and Michigan. That counts for a lot.

      Secondly, some of the yards per play differential is driven by run/pass choice. Utah is outgaining its opponents by 4.87 to 4.22 on the ground. In the air, they are being outgained 6.8 to 6.7 per play, but because the Utes run a larger proportion of their plays than opponents, when the stats are combined it doesn’t look as favorable for Utah. If you look at pass rating instead of ypp, then Utah looks better off (136 versus 119).

      If you look at the advanced stats, Utah is 13th in S&P. They are 23rd in offensive S&P and 24th in defensive S&P, and they have the 12th ranked strength of schedule (to be fair, S&P has Stanford [#10] and Under Stanford Control [#6] ranked ahead of them). They are ranked #1 by ESPN’s power rankings, #26 on offensive efficiency and #19 on defensive efficiency. I haven’t even talked about their turnover margin because I do believe turnovers are largely due to luck, but Utah has had a profound advantage in turnovers (tied for best in the country).

      Third, Utah is ranked third in punting at 48 yards per punt (and 33rd in punt returns given up). They are sixth in punt returns at 26 yards per return. They are 23rd in kickoff returns. The only portion of special teams where they are weak is in kickoffs and preventing kickoff returns. Add to it their turnover margin and Utah has had a profound field position advantage that has made the “whole” greater than the sum of its parts.

      My point is that conventional statistics (yards per play) underrate Utah’s offensive and defensive, and exclude the contribution of special teams. They may not be the best team in the country (and may prove not to be in the Pac-12), but they are clearly not the second worst team in the conference.


      The CARDboard – Stanford Fan Forum

    • #5107


      Turnovers are luck? Lost me on that, do most Football fans believe turnovers are luck? Goff and Rudoch made some poor throws for sure. But it is because of the stout dline play. QB’s prep for that line mentally and know whats coming. Smart ones have a clock and know to get rid of the ball. Also Utah hasn’t been blitzing a lot like they did last season with Sitake.

      But interesting perspective from a fanbase that has seen Utah beat them twice.

      • #5111

        Wilson’s Mustache
        Ute Fan

        I there is a large factor of luck when it comes to turnovers. While a team can do much to improve their chances of creating turnovers (ie. pressuring QB, disguising coverage, strip tackling) they have no control over the decision making of a QB or the direction a ball bounces when stripped.

        You only have to look back a few years to Utah’s horrid luck with generating turnovers. Balls bounced right into opponents hands, balls dropped by DBs etc. While it it true that players & talent make up a huge part in getting turnovers there will always be a large luck factor as well.

        Also, turnovers aren’t something that a team can count on from game to game. Utah could force 6 TOs from Cal & could very well end up with 0 against ASU. Very hard to predict.

        Doesn’t change the fact that some teams just happen to be better at increasing the likelihood of turnovers form occurring. Both Utah & California do this very well.

    • #5115


      Pease has placed an emphasis on moving to the ball. Utah failed to pick up that blindside sack fumble of Goff. But I doubt Goff will throw that many picks again the rest of his career. The two tipped INTs largely luck and having guys that stay around the ball.

      Football in general is mostly luck then. You do all of the right things like film study, training, practice and scheming to increase your odds. But seeing it mesh correctly is luck.

    • #5119


      Fascinating. So it’s all smoke and mirrors? Tell that to the five teams we have beaten so far.

      There’s one stat this study seems to be missing… games won. Isn’t that the name of the game? It’s like golf. Who cares if you have an ugly swing if you get the ball in the hole in less shots than your opponent (that would be me).


    • #5123


      My perspective….Stanford lost to Northwestern. Their offense did not even score. Michigan shut out Northwestern. Utah beat Michigan. So Utah > Michigan > Northwestern > Stanford. Suck that Furd!

    • #5124

      Ute Fan

      He says we are undefeated “primarily because of turnover margin”. What about:

      Pac 12 Team Stats:

      Interceptions #1
      Punting #1
      Sacks against #1
      4th down conv #1
      Turnover margin #1
      Red Zone off #1
      Time of Poss #2
      Rush Off #3
      Rush Def #3
      Kickoff Ret #3
      Punt Ret #3

      • #5129


        Gotta say he’s right about turnover margin and there’s nothing wrong with that. You will that every championship team will have a 20+ turnover margin by the end of the season. It is a huge factor and highly correlated with winning and this coaching staff knows that.

        My senior year at Cal State Fullerton, the football team went 11-1. Only loss was to UNLV who had Randall Cunningham at quarterback. Fullerton had Damon Allen at quarterback (held all time passing record in CFL). But the real reason for Fullerton’s 11-1 record was their plus 20 something turnover margin. At corner back they had Matk Collins, future All Pro with the NY Giants.

        So long as Utah keeps producing turnovers at this clip, they will win. Simple as that.

    • #5127

      Ute Fan

      And he says our special teams don’t stand out in most categories…

      ESPN 2015 FBS stats:

      Punting #3
      Kickoff return #23
      Punt return #6
      Return TDs #1
      Special Teams efficiency #19

      BTW – combined offense, defense and special teams efficiency Utah is 13th in the nation!

    • #5149


      Also, looking at macro stats, particularly at this point in the season, one needs to consider the competition they were up against. Conference rankings are meaningless with just 2 to 3 games on the board. 4 to 5 games and they’re a decent measure of standing.

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Utah Utes Fan Board Forums Utah Utes Sports Football Two opposing perspectives on Utah – From Stanford fans