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PAC 12 Advanced Metrics Overview- The North

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The PAC 12 was strong in 2014, and the north champion, Oregon, took the PAC 12 and drubbed FSU to reach the national championship game. There wasn't much doubt who the class of the North was last season, the balance of power is always in flux. This article will take a quick look at each team in the PAC 12 North, measure some key stats, and predict what that means for their future.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

This article will analyze two key concepts: advanced team metrics to get a sense of how good a team really was, and a percentage returning calculation in several key statistical areas on both offense and defense. Crunching these stats will let us know whether we expect a team to be a contender, a challenger, or a pretender in 2015, and whether we expect them to take a step forward, a step back, or to stand firm.

California Bears

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

6.09

38.3

39.8

46.07%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

65

50

N/A

65

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

4152

4139 (99%)

1790

1779 (99%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

4152

4147 (99%)

946

816 (86%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

55

48.5 (88%)

39

37 (95%)

Progress: Step Forward. The Bears will take a step forward in 2015, and it will be a big one. They have easily the best returns in the PAC 12 in every single area. Their defense struggled last year, but most of their major contributors will return with an extra year of experience and offseason of training under their belt. Their offense was incredible last year and returns all but a handful of yards.

Status: Challenger. If you are looking for a PAC 12 dark horse, Cal might be it. They’ll need things to fall their way, to be sure, but they can make it happen. If the defense can make some major strides and get down to 30 points a game, and the offense can push 40, a ten win season for the Bears might be within reach.

Oregon Ducks

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

7.34

45.4

23.6

49.49%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

3

1

2

2

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

4687

233 (5%)

3518

2563(72%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

4687

4217 (90%)

1149

730 (63%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

94

69.5 (73%)

71

29 (40%)

Progress: Step Back. UO returns a lot of skill position talent, but they say goodbye to Marcus Mariota. He accounted for over 5,000 yards of offense last year, and even a truly top-tier performance from his replacement would likely be less than that. In addition, the Ducks defense takes some substantial hits in a number of key areas. When you are just about the best team in the country, it’s hard to do anything but slide back a bit.

Status: Contender. Oregon at 80% of last year is still one of the best teams in the conference. With the North lacking depth and four of the other five teams also taking a step back, the Ducks are the odds-on favorite to represent the north in the PAC 12 championship game.

OSU Beavers

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

5.57

25.7

31.6

31.74%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

74

62

N/A

75

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

3305

141 (4%)

1417

647 (45%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

3305

2668 (80%)

812

254 (31%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

80

23.5 (29%)

39

16 (41%)

Progress: Step Back. Poor, poor Beavs. They were at the bottom of the conference last year and they are getting completely gutted for 2015. Massive losses in rush yards and passing yards are mirrored by the hemorrhage of their top senior talent on the defensive side. Combine that with a total transformation in offensive system and a new coach and staff, and the Beavers are in a lot of trouble.

Status: Pretender. This is a multi-year project for Gary Andersen and the crew. The Beavers were a dangerous team last year, with talented leaders who could make plays to keep games close when they were otherwise over-matched (Utah, ASU). This year, those leaders are gone and the entire scheme is in chaos. Brace yourselves, Beaver fans.

Stanford Cardinal

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

5.89

27.2

16.4

42.42%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

18

14

N/A

24

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

2988

100%

2064

902(44%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

2988

2085 (70%)

853

292 (34%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

95

28.5 (30%)

37

18 (49%)

Progress: Step Back. Stanford fielded one of the finest defenses in the country last year, and a lot of that was because of experienced senior talent. In 2015, they are going to have to start from scratch in a number of areas. Although Stanford has earned the benefit of the doubt, they should be mere mortals this year. As for the offense, fifth year senior Kevin Hogan is back, but the offense will need to find a new solution at running back.

Status: Challenger. Stanford was excellent last year, but wasn’t in Oregon’s league. Since they don’t figure to improve, they will likely be looking to play spoiler when they welcome Oregon in November. The Big Game could also prove very, very interesting indeed.

Washington Huskies

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

5.4

30.2

24.8

40.74%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

58

37

N/A

41

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

2801

404(14%)

2640

1957(74%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

2801

2161 (77%)

1020

638 (62%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

91

29.5 (32%)

51

36 (70%)

Progress: Step Back. Like Oregon State, the Huskies will be challenged to replicate what they were able to do last year. Major components of their front 7 were lost, and the retirement of Cyler Miles has raised questions at quarterback UW may not be able to answer, at least not in 2015.

Status: Pretender. Washington was a solid team last year, but they were firmly outside of the top of the division. With little prospect for improvement, the Huskies’ challenge is going to be staying out of the basement of the conference. They’ve made great strides in the last few years, but this may be a make-or-break year for both them and Coach Petersen.

WSU Cougars

YARDS/P

OFF PPG

DEF PPG

3RD DWN

6.12

31.8

38.6

41.49%

F/+

FPI

CFP RNK

MASSEY

77

63

N/A

80

PASS YDS

RETURN

RUSH YDS

RETURN

5732

1859(32%)

478

514(107%)

REC YDS

RETURN

TACKLES

RETURN

5732

2720 (47%)

833

706 (84%)

TFL

RETURN

PBU

RETURN

77

67.5 (87%)

41

41 (100%)

Progress: Step Forward. The injury to Connor Halliday (which kept him off of draft boards and seemed to lead to his retirement from football) was a tragedy for the young man, but a bit of a boon for the Cougars. They got a solid chunk of work out of Luke Falk; he can deliver in Mike Leach’s system. The rest of the team returns in force, except for receiver, which is a fairly interchangeable position for the Cougars.

*Without going into play-by-play data I can’t suss out sacks, so they return 107%. Is what it is.

Status: Pretender. Despite their prospects for improvement, returning all the members of one of the worst defenses in the country is still a profound problem. Mike Leach has failed to prove that he can put together a team that can win a bunch of games, and this year looks to be the same. They may manage a few more wins with a weakened North and a doughy non-conference schedule, but they won’t sniff the North crown.

Overview:

This doesn’t project to be a great year for the North, which bids farewell to four starting quarterbacks and a host of other important pieces. Only the Bears and Cougars figure to improve. Oregon is still the team to beat in the PAC 12 until proven otherwise, but you shouldn’t be surprised to see them head into the PAC 12 championship game as the underdog.