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Digging into USC's advanced stats profile

A tale of two teams

Harry How/Getty Images

Today Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC for those on Twitter) released advanced statistical profiles for each team, so I thought I'd go ahead and break down a few of the notable stats that stood out for USC (go here to see the full profile).

Offensive S&P+ USC Rank: #1

We're Number 1! We're Number 1! What's that? We're only number 19 in the AP Poll? Right. Well as depressing as that is, at least USC has the most explosive and efficient offense in the nation thus far. I'd say that's pretty damn exciting. As frustrating as it was to see USC lose to Stanford on Saturday, at least Trojan fans have this to hang their hat on. Credit must be given to Sark and Clay Helton for achieving this.

Passing Down Success Rate Rank: #46 34.5%

Well that's an interesting little number isn't it. A passing down is defined as 2nd and 8+ yards or 3rd/4th down and 5+ yards to go (a good page to keep handy).  This number really illustrates USC's struggles on the downs that help you win close football games. Although technically above average, if Cody Kessler and co truly want to win when it matters, then this number needs to improve for USC's chances in close games. So how can USC be #1 despite this number? It's largely a combination of how successful the Trojans have been on standard downs -- 63.4% success rate, good for #3--, explosiveness 21st -- measured by ISOPP-- and their ability to finish drives, ranked #4.

Defensive S&P+ USC Rank: #61

Well that sure is a depressing drop isn't it? As great as the offense has been, the defense has been largely underwhelming, which Stanford game very clearly showed. The pairing of the ranking above, with this ranking couldn't illustrate any better the struggles for this USC team. If they just had a functional defense, ranked above say 30, this would be a team comfortably in the playoff conversation.

Overall Havoc Rate Rank: #115

The full definition of havoc rate is here, but the short is it's a defensive metric that shows how often the defense is creating negative plays and turnover opportunities. That number, sigh. For context on how awful that number is there are 128 teams currently in FBS. I can just imagine the offensive coordinators for USC's remaining opponents licking their chops at this number.

I just decided to pick out a few of the more descriptive numbers that really highlights USC's successes and struggles so far this season. Hopefully the defensive numbers improve on Saturday vs ASU and the offensive numbers largely stay the same, aside from that mediocre passing down success rate. One more thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are buoyed by the early season performances and a bit from last seasons numbers. We'll see just how good this team really is as the schedule plays out.