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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 3, 2007 at 12:06 PM

About those penalties

With no UW game for another 10 days, I’m still intrigued by what happened last Saturday and the seeming disparity of the views of the two coaches on what took place.
Maybe it’s only to be expected that UW coach Tyrone Willingham would say that it was the Huskies’ aggressive play that caused so many USC mistakes. And that Pete Carroll would basically say the opposite, that the Trojans did it all to themselves.
Don’t know if I can come to any real way to end that debate. But listening to the coaches talk the past couple days made me decide to re-exmaine the penalties from the other day to see if that would shed any light on things.
For starters, USC was whistled for 16 penalties for 161 yards. Five of those penalties resulted in UW first downs — the Huskies also had five first downs rushing and five passing for a total of 15. USC had 20 first downs for the game, one via penalty, 11 passing and eight rushing.
Of USC’s penalties, here’s the breakdown:
False start — 5
Personal foul — 4.
Holding — 3
Pass interference — 2
Offsides — 1
Kick catching interference — 1
USC was whistled for three penalties — two personal fouls and an offsides — on UW’s first drive, which accounted for 25 of UW’s 67 yards on the drive (the Huskies also had one penalty on the drive offseting five of the yards). UW ran 10 plays on the drive for 42 yards if you take out the penalties.
Also of note is how penalties affected USC’s drives. The Trojans punted five times in the game. It can be argued that penalties killed two of those drives — the second drive of the game when two straight false starts turned second-and-10 into second-and-20 from the 10-yard line and the Trojans went conservative; and another in the fourth quarter when USC was called for two more false starts within three plays.
So you can see why Carroll might say it was simply the Trojans doing it to themselves, especially since he’s kind of seen this happen before. Even before Saturday’s game USC had had some issues, getting whistled 10 times for 102 yards at Nebraska. So maybe Carroll has some issues there with how his team handles being on the road (USC was called for 11 penalties combined in its two home games).
Willingham, though, argues that many of those penalties were due to UW’s speed on the edges forcing holding calls, or the crowd forcing some of those false starts, and the stats bear out that the Huskies have been better at avoiding penalties this year than their opponents.
In fact, no team in the Pac-10 has seen its opponents whistled for more penalties for more yards (52 for 437). Amazingly enough, that’s twice as many penalties as opponents of USC have been called for this year, though in one fewer game (26 in four games).
The Huskies also lead the conference in fewest penalty yards per game (46.8) committing just 32 penalties for 234 yards. The Huskies, however, were called for a season-high nine for 64 yards against the Trojans, so maybe that was just a particularly flag-happy crew.
Arizona State, no stunner there, leads the Pac-10 in penalty yards with 363 with USC next at 349.
Ultimately, I guess, the numbers show that it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that USC was called for a lot more penalties than UW was Saturday. But as with everything else about their game, the Huskies have to figure out how to begin turning that into wins.

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