Kansas State Statistical Review

Jan. 6 -- The stats show a much better performance for UCLA against Kansas State than the score might indicate...

A friend is graduating from UCLA Anderson this Spring, having seen 20 wins in his first two seasons as a UCLA football fan. Boy did he get in at the right time—the Mora years have seen more victories than the five previous seasons combined, and on Friday evening in San Antonio, we saw what was probably the most impressive win of the nascent era. On the road (this was even less of a neutral site than the Texas game) against a Top 15 opponent, the Bruins fully outclassed the Wildcats despite an officiating crew that ignored the blatant holding Kansas State’s overmatched offensive linemen were forced to employ on every play. The score may have gotten close near the end thanks to a little Purple Wizard magic (no we don’t mean Bill SnyderTyler Lockett was the true wizard in San Antonio), but statistically this was a detonation nearly on par with the Arizona State and Southern Cal games.

As always, we use:

  • Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
  • Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
  • Points Per Drive to measure scoring
  • Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
  • Field Position Margin to measure field position
  • Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
Here is the report card for the Alamo Bowl and the season overall:

An elite offensive effort and a mixed defensive effort that easily hit the <6 Yards Per Play benchmark we set for a probable Bruin win.


The Bruin offense was a joy to watch in this game, with multiple successful triple option plays, perfectly blocked runs, and Good Brett Hundley. The K State defense wasn’t particularly good this season, but the Bruins absolutely shredded the Wildcats at a level commensurate with the elite TCU and Baylor offenses. There were just enough stops to keep the efficiency numbers out of the truly elite level, but the Bruins were still easily in the Top 25 tier for Yards Per Stop. 7.4 Yards Per Play is Oregon-like and reflects the astounding six plays of over 30 yards the Bruins managed in the game. When the Mazzone offense is getting big plays, it is pretty impressive to watch. The Bruins also did a great job of putting points on the board and taking advantage of scoring opportunities, with elite numbers in both Points Per Drive and Points Per Trip Inside the 40. Every time UCLA crossed midfield, it scored (side note: Ka’imi Fairbairn may just be rounding into a solid field goal kicker to go along with his NFL-level kickoffs). In Brett Hundley’s final game as a UCLA Bruin, the offense flattened a solid Big 12 defense. If the line can continue to run block this well, things will be a lot easier on whoever takes over behind center in the Fall.


The defense was a little more of a mixed bag, with a Stanford-like 4.6 Yards Allowed Per Play but a Wazzu-like 2.92 Points Allowed Per Drive. The Alamo Bowl was actually the fifth game where the Bruins held the opponent under five yards per play, a very impressive stat that cements the Bruins as the #2 team in the conference for Yards Allowed Per Play. This was the second-lowest YPP number the Wildcats suffered all year, and was 1.6 yards beneath Kansas State’s average.

On the other hand, the fact that Kansas State was able to finish their Drives of a Thousand Uncalled Holds meant the Bruin defense finished with a mediocre efficiency number (though still ten yards lower than the Wildcats had been averaging). This was probably a pretty clear decision by the coaching staff, as Kansas State was pretty much unable to get any big plays outside of the final touchdown drive. If your opponent needs 34 points to tie in the second half, it makes sense to allow 8 minute touchdown drives. Even the short 21 yard post-fumble touchdown drive took six plays and three and a half minutes.

The Bruins did not do a good job of preventing the Wildcats from scoring, and we believe that these stats in general are going to be something that the defense must work on in the offseason. The UCLA defense is too talented for how often it has capitulated against an opponent in scoring position.


The Bruins continued an impressive second half of the season, winning the turnover and field position battles against a team that had dominated both this season. The Myles Jack interception (is it too late to put his name in for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back? #MylesJackforThorpeandButkusandLombardiandUnitasandHeisman) and Marcus Rios sack/fumble (if there isn’t a College Gameday special next year on the Rios story someone is asleep on the job) were both impressive plays where the Bruins were just more physically talented than the Wildcats. The Paul Perkins fumble was unfortunate and probably the main catalyst for Kansas State making a game of it rather than petering out like the Washington semi-comeback, but the Bruins put 14 points on the board from their two turnovers against the Wildcats’ 7 on one turnover.

Ka’imi Fairbarn is an incredible kick off specialist, with five touchbacks in eight kicks and only 14.7 yards allowed per return on the three he did not put out of the end zone. Matt Mengel had one punt taken back a long way by the incredible Lockett (and another return called back), but he averaged 46.5 yards per punt and our early-season worries about his long kick motion proved to be unfounded. The season is over, and it was relatively successful, with ten wins against a tough schedule and a rocking Rose Bowl offsetting the disappointment of not winning the division or making the playoffs. After the National Championship, we will post a full season review.

Questions? Comments? Agreements with my idea that the UCLA defensive line needs to work with a professional soccer player to properly sell holding calls? Meet us on the Premium Football Forum or tweet us @Bruinalytics.

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