Week zero (why is it called that, does the week not count?) is in the books, Hawaii received a lot of well-deserved national attention, and the final play was awesome. #49 Manly Williams is now the textbook example of “never quit playing until the whistle is blown”, as he almost got a sack and then kept running downfield to help make the tackle right before the goal line. Kevin Sumlin called Arizona’s performance “unacceptable” and “too many critical errors in that game for us to be successful.” The season couldn’t have started better for Hawaii or the Mountain West. In every pregame show, one key to the game is always win the turnover battle. Well, Arizona did win that battle 6 turnovers to 2, which puts them at plus 4, so how did they lose? The answer is in the advanced stats. Since this was one of two games in the nation, we are going to see how advanced stats affected this game. Click for a refresher on a Bill Walsh’s Advanced Stats.
Hawaii wins the field position battle. Hawaii’s DFP (average distance from the end zone) was 65.6 yards, will Arizona’s was 68.0. Simply put, Hawaii had less distance to travel than Arizona. A NFP (net starting field position) advantage of 2.4. That might not seem like a lot, but last year Hawaii’s NFP was -5.5 so staring closer than you opponent is a great first step and last year 2.4 was ahead of Utah State and behind Boise State, not a bad position to be in. The other great statistic for Hawaii is they started exactly zero drives inside their 20 yard line, while Arizona started one. That one drive that started inside Arizona’s 20, the final drive where the Wildcats fell one yard short. Last year the Rainbow Warriors had a starting position on offense of 70.5, so a decrease of almost 5 yards for this game, while the defense had a 2018 average of 65.1, so nearly 3 more yards for the defense to work with. I know it is only the first game, but when you can improve in multiple advanced statistics against a Power 5 team, things are looking up. Also, last year the offense started 19.6% of drives inside their own 20 yard line, 0% last week, while the defense started 14.1% of drives pinning this opposing offense back, 6.7% so far.
Backed-up Advanced Stats Hawaii 5-Arizona 0
Third Downs (teamrankings.com)
Walsh called 3rd down “Do or die.” Arizona did have more third downs than Hawaii 11-10. How many 3rd downs you have is not as important was what you do with them. Hawaii converted 5 of those downs for 50% compared to Arizona’s 2 conversions at 27.2%. Five time Hawaii continued the drive, comparted to Arizona’s two, although Hawaii did try and convert three 4th downs, succeeding twice, so in reality they kept the drive alive 7 out of 10 times and only punted once. Hawaii’s five conversions is up from last year’s average of 4.2 and 50% is much improved over 32.14%. The defense allowed 6.3 3rd down conversions last year at 43.39%, a much better showing this game.
Offensive 3rd down converted Hawaii
Offensive 3rd conversion rate Hawaii
Defensive 3rd down converted Hawaii
Defensive 3rd conversion rate Hawaii
3rd Down Advanced Stats Hawaii 4-Arizona 0
Red Zone (teamrankings.com)
To win games you have to score points, can you score more points than the other team? Arizona had 4 red zone attempts comparted to Hawaii’s 3. However, both teams had 3 red zone scores leaving Hawaii with a perfect 100% and Arizona at 75%. Last year Hawaii average 3.9 attempts at a scoring rate of 84.31%, so down a little from last year on attempts, but can’t beat 100%. While the defense allowed 4.5 red zone attempts at 84.75%, so improved a little from last year. Could have been worse, Miami had zero red zone scoring attempts.
Redzone attempts Arizona
Redzone Offense Percentage Scoring Hawaii
Redzone Defense Percentage Scoring Hawaii
Red Zone Advanced Stats Hawaii 2-Arizona 1
Arizona may have won the turnover battle, but Hawaii won the advanced statistics battle 11 to 1. Winning the statistics battle most likely will lead to winning the game. It is only one game, but Hawaii improved in almost every category of advanced statistics over last year against a quality opponent. If Hawaii can keep going in this direction, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.