WSU vs. OSU: Ioane Gauta and his teammates really were that good on defense

Otto Greule Jr - Getty Images

Let's take a look back at the Cougars' 19-6 loss to No. 14 Oregon State by diving into the numbers a little bit. What can they tell us about how WSU performed?

Numbers alone almost never tell the whole story, but put in the proper context they can be revealing. Here are some stats that we think shed some light on Saturday's game in Corvallis.

4.51 - Yards per play allowed by the defense. It obviously felt like the defense was having a very good day, and this more or less confirms it. While yards per play isn't a tell-all stat, it's a nice rudimentary indicator of offensive and defensive effectiveness. What I love about this number is that it isn't relying on the three turnovers by Sean Mannion to make it look better. Sure, those were three plays that netted the Beavers zero yards, but that's just three zeroes out of 81 plays. The defense was just darn good.

For context, consider: Just five other times since the beginning of the 2008 season have the Cougs held an opponent under 5.0 yards per play.

  • Sept. 10, 2011 vs. UNLV (2.93)
  • Oct. 16, 2010 vs. Arizona (4.76)
  • Nov. 22, 2008 vs. Washington (4.36)
  • Oct. 4, 2008 at UCLA (4.39)
  • Sept. 20, 2008 vs. Portland State (4.10)

I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that the 2012 OSU offense (at least so far) is better than all of those offenses -- the Beavers had put up 6.59 against UCLA and 6.97 against Arizona the previous two weeks. And say what you will about Mannion's mistakes, but the Cougars had a lot to do with that as their blitz seemed as effective yesterday as it has at any point in the season. Ioane Gauta's Fat Guy Interception was a direct result of pressure by Travis Long.

It's exciting to see the defense build off of what was, at times, a very strong performance against Oregon the week before.

4.6% - The rate at which Connor Halliday is throwing interceptions in 2012 (on a per attempt basis) after Saturday's three-interception performance. That's tied for 110th nationally out of 123 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 75 pass attempts. (Data here.) That's roughly one interception for every 21 passes -- or, roughly three per game if you figure a Mike Leach QB is going to throw it about 60 times a game.

I don't really have a whole lot of other insight to offer, other than to say that if you were of the opinion that Halliday's interceptions weren't that bad, they really are. And if you were of the opinion that it really was that bad, well, it is.

For the record, Jeff Tuel is 94th at 3.3 percent, or roughly one interception every 30 attempts.

31 - The difference in number of offensive plays run by OSU (82) and WSU (51). If you're wondering why the defense maybe wore down at the end of the game, this would be a better place to look than time of possession. Obviously time of possession comes about because of this, but it's really the number of snaps these guys have to play. And when you do that, and still only give up 19 points ... it's impressive.

0.0% - The Cougars' offensive red zone TD percentage on Saturday. Two more touchdown-less trips on Saturday moves the Cougars down to 113th in red zone touchdown percentage.

33.3% - The Cougars defensive red zone TD percentage on Saturday. The Beavers only scored touchdowns on two of their six trips inside the 20. They got in just once in the first five trips while improbably holding the game close. The Cougars now rank 31st nationally in red zone touchdown percentage allowed. Pretty good!

3 - The number of yards Marquess Wilson gained on his three receptions after removing his 51-yard reception. Sigh.

11 - The number of tackles by Deone Bucannon. He had a hell of a day.

Here are the full stats. What else do you see?

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