Charting WSU explosion plays: An evolution

THE EVOLUTION OF the Air Raid offense at Washington State is laid plain in analyzing the explosion plays. The Cougs lead the nation in explosive plays of 10-plus yards in 2014. But WSU was in the top 25 of that category last year. And so where the Cougs’ improvement truly comes into sharp focus is when looking at the remaining explosion play categories ... and then comparing them to last season.

Washington State is No. 1 in nation this season with 104 explosive plays of 10-plus yards. The 2013 Cougs ranked 24th in that category.

Going from No. 24 nationally to No. 1 is nothing to sneeze at. But here’s where the differences really show up:

The Cougs this season are also t-16 with 28 plays of 20-plus yards. Last year? They were 74th nationally in 2013 in explosion plays of 20-plus.

WSU is t-15 this year with 14 plays of 30-plus yards. Here, they were 66th in 2013.

The Cougs in 2014 are t-7 with nine plays of 40-plus. Last year, they finished 47th in that category.

Wazzu is also t-3 in the nation with seven explosion plays of 50-plus yards this season. They were 58th in 2013.

The Cougs are t-5 in the FBS with four plays of 60-plus yards. In 2013, WSU ranked 66th.

Washington State is also t-9 with two plays of 70-plus yards. And in five games this season, they’ve already matched last year’s total by the ’13 Cougs when they were t-40 with two plays of 70-plus.

And finally, WSU is t-4 in the land with two plays of 80-plus yards, with one of them coming last week when Vince Mayle (pictured) went 81-yards to the house on a pass from Connor Halliday. Last year, only 57 teams had between 1-3 plays that went that distance. The Cougs weren’t one of those 2013 teams.

But you know how Mike Leach is saying there’s always room for improvement and always something the Cougs could can do better at? Only 11 teams in college football this season have posted an explosion play of 90-plus yards. The Cougs, through five games, aren’t one of them.

So… something to shoot for.

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