Freakishly pass-heavy

November 15, 2018

The website TeamRankings.com tracks team pass-play percentage. Since Leach became their coach, the Cougars have led the nation in that stat every season.

This year’s team is passing the ball 70.6 percent of the time. (Note: TeamRankings.com only counts games involving two FBS teams.) East Carolina is second at 60.4 percent.

Starting with Leach’s first year, 2012, here are WSU’s annual pass-play percentages: 74.3, 76.6, 77.2, 73.5, 65.6, 71.8, 70.6. No other school has a single season at 70 percent or higher during that span.

Only once this season have the Cougars attempted fewer than 50 passes in a game; they threw the ball “only” 40 times against Oregon State on Oct. 6.

Meanwhile, not a single Arizona opponent has attempted as many as 50 passes in a game this season.

The last time it happened? Oct. 28, 2017, against … Washington State.

The Cougars threw a mind-boggling 84 passes that night, completing 58 of them for 602 yards. They lost 58-37, turning the ball over four times, including Colin Schooler’s 66-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter.

Washington State’s 2018 average of 53.7 pass attempts per game is more than 18 higher than the No. 2 team in the Pac-12, Oregon State (35.5). WSU’s rival, Washington, attempts roughly half as many passes per game (27.7).

Because they pass the ball so often — and so well — the Cougars lead the Pac-12 in total offense by more than 100 yards, even though they’re last in rushing by more than 30 yards. (Arizona is second in the Pac-12 in total offense, by the way. The Wildcats are first in rushing, sixth in passing.)

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