The Day After: What to make of Washington's defense after 31-24 win at Arizona
It wasn't bad, but the Wildcats did run a lot of successful plays.
TUCSON, Ariz. — They’re shouting it about USC today.
At Washington, the concern is less pronounced, though the volume might be increasing, if incrementally.
The Trojans stayed unbeaten with a 48-41 victory at Colorado on Saturday, but allowed 564 yards of total offense and threatened to squander what had been a 41-14 lead in the third quarter. CU’s late surge — combined with last season’s shortcomings — has plenty of folks wondering if, no matter the brilliance of reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, USC’s defense might simply be too porous for the Trojans to become a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.
Arizona didn’t do to Washington what Colorado did to USC — not even close — though the games ended with identical final margins. The Huskies’ defensive issues — such as they were, in a game in which the opponent scored 24 points and averaged only 4.9 yards per play — are more about eye test and caliber of opponent, knowing that Oregon and USC, in particular, possess offensive weapons capable of exploiting Washington’s weaknesses.
If you’re into advanced metrics like EPA and success rate, GameOnPaper.com is a great resource with which to dive deeper into the box score. As our pals at UW Dawg Pound noted, Arizona’s success rate — a per-play measure of success based on yardage gained relative to down and distance — was 51 percent, which ranks in the 90th percentile (the Huskies were even better, at 55 percent, in the 96th percentile).
Yet Arizona had only four scrimmage plays longer than 13 yards and only two rushes for double-digit yardage. In fact, only 10 of Noah Fifita’s 27 completions gained double-digit yardage — three in the first half and seven in the second, including five on Arizona’s final possession.