The Five Factors and More: A Review of Key Statistics from the Cal Game

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Howdy, folks!

Saturday night’s game against the Cal Golden Bears was long and mostly fun, until it wasn’t anymore. Let’s try to piece together why we went to bed angry at 3AM.

This review is based off of Bill Connelly’s Five Factors to winning football games. The five factors are efficiency, explosiveness, field position, turnovers, and finishing drives. This advanced stat glossary will come handy to those of you who are less familiar with the five factors.


To measure efficiency I used success rate, an idea that was first made popular by the excellent book The Hidden Game of Football.

Both offenses were far more efficient than the national average, and neither team held a decisive edge in the efficiency battle.

Team Success Rate Run SR Pass SR Standard Downs SR Passing Downs SR
Texas 47.8% 58.3% 35.7% 54.0% 33.3%
Cal 47.4% 45.7% 48.8% 47.4% 47.6%
National Avg. 40.2% 41.0% 40.2% 45.8% 30.3%

The Texas offense performed exactly like we would have expected before the season started. The Longhorns used their physical offensive line and stable of stud runners to dominate in the running game and on standard downs. Unfortunately, a great running game was complimented by subpar passing. Texas struggled to put together an efficient attack through the air, and they were only average on passing downs.

Meanwhile, the Cal offense was efficient and about as balanced as can be, with virtually identical passing, rushing, standard downs, and passing downs success rates. The Texas defense deserves some credit for holding up reasonably well on standard downs, but allowing a passing downs success rate 17 percentage points higher than the national average was costly and is disconcerting going forward. Defensive efficiency on passing downs was a weakness last year (112th in PD Success Rate in 2015), and Texas is looking even worse in that department early on in 2016.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR 3Q SR 4Q SR
Texas 62.5% 50.0% 39.1% 33.3%
Cal 39.1% 38.1% 46.2% 66.7%

Texas had a huge edge in efficiency in the first half, but they failed to capitalize with a commanding lead (more why this was the case later). Cal closed the efficiency gap as the first half wore on, and they were the more efficient team in the second half by a large margin.


Offensive explosiveness can measured in many ways, but for the purpose of this review I am going to use future Texas Texas A&M LSU Auburn head coach Tom Herman’s definition of an explosive play: any pass that gains at least 16 yards and any run that gains at least 12 yards.

Both teams did a good job of generating explosive plays on offense, but Cal held a clear advantage in generating explosive plays.

Team Explosive Plays Explosive Pct. Explosive Runs Explosive Pct. Explosive Passes Explosive Pct. Yards per Explosive Play
Texas 9 10.0% 5 10.4% 4 9.5% 27.1
Cal 13 16.7% 1 2.9% 12 27.9% 26.8

Generating explosive plays in the running game was one of the few things that the Texas offense did well in 2015. This did not carry over to the first two games of 2016, as the Longhorns came into the Cal game 104th in Rushing IsoPPP (Bill Connelly’s explosiveness stat). After this Cal game, I think that we can put any concerns about a non-explosive running game to rest. The Longhorns generated 5 explosive running plays, with both Chris Warren III and D’Onta Foreman getting in on the action. These were two of the most explosive running backs in college football last season, so it’s nice to see them regain the open-field form that we have grown accustomed too.

Another early season struggle for the Longhorns has been preventing explosive running plays on defense (114th in Def. Rushing IsoPPP in the first two games). Texas fixed this problem in a big way on Saturday. The only explosive running play they allowed was the 54 yard run and fumble by Vic Enwere in which the defense completely sold out to try and stuff the Bears for no gain.

Now, on to the gloomy portion of this section.

Preventing explosive passing plays has always been a hallmark of Charlie Strong defenses. His first two Texas teams were excellent at preventing deep passes, and the Longhorns got off to a solid start in the first two games. And then Cal happened.

The Texas defense allowed an abysmal 12 passing plays of greater than 16 yards. The downside of not using IsoPPP (which I would do if I could) is that it is difficult to definitively say exactly how bad allowing 12 explosive passing plays is relative to national averages. Regardless of that missing context, we do know this- Cal was able to use their passing game to give them a clear explosiveness advantage in this particular game.

It will be interesting to see if preventing big passing plays continues to be a problem for this Texas team throughout the season. Hopefully this is a one game blip and not a new trend, because quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Mason Rudolph are going to be able to exploit a defense prone to surrendering big passing plays at least as well as Davis Webb was able to on Saturday.

Field Position

Team Average Starting Field Position
Texas 71.5
Cal 68.5

Cal had a slim field position advantage, and it’s quite frankly surprising that it was not larger given Cal’s two interception returns and their long kickoff returns.

Texas has Michael Dickson to thank for making the field position battle as close as it was. He has been a weapon all season, and Saturday night was no different as he averaged 10 more net yards per punt than Cal’s Dylan Klumph.


Texas completely dominated the first half from an efficiency standpoint, but found themselves down 33-35 at halftime. A pair of interceptions had a lot to do with that scoreline.

The first pick happened early in the 2nd quarter as a result of a high throw and deflection from Tyrone Swoopes to Collin Johnson.

The second interception came later on in the second quarter and was arguably more costly due to a long return that flipped field position. Cal safety Luke Rubenzer intercepted a long pass attempt to John Burt, and then proceeded to return the pick 45 yards to set Cal up with great field position. The Golden Bears would go on to score right before the end of the half.

When looking at the box score, one could easily conclude that Cal did a better job of taking care of the ball than Texas. Truthfully, California was extremely fortunate to win the turnover battle. The Golden Bears recovered all 3 fumbles that occurred in the game, and they were lucky that the aforementioned deflected Tyrone Swoopes interception fell to a defensive back instead of falling harmlessly to the ground.

Finishing Drives

A scoring opportunity is defined as any drive that includes a 1st down inside of the opponent’s 40 yard line or any touchdown that is greater than 40 yards.

Teams Drives Scoring Opportunites Points per Scoring Opportunity
Texas 15 8 5.1
Cal 14 7 7.1

As was the case with explosiveness, both teams finished drives well but Cal held a decisive advantage. Texas actually created one more scoring opportunity than the Golden Bears, but they were only able to score 5 touchdowns on 8 chances while Cal was perfect with their 7 scoring opportunities.

Texas’ defense has struggled to prevent touchdowns when they have allow scoring chances early on this season. The Longhorns were 118th in opposing points per scoring chance coming into the Cal game, and Saturday night’s performance will only drop them further.

If Texas hopes to win 8+ games this season, they are going to have to close to drive finishing gap between them and their opponents.

*Note: Cal’s final drive is not included in the drive finishing stats or field position stats. Once Enwere broke his long gain, Cal only had to kill the clock with kneel downs to win the game. They were obviously not trying to score.

Individual Statistics


Chad Hansen is excellent.

Cmp Att. Yds. TD Int. Yards per attempt Success Rate
D. Webb 27 40 396 4 0 8.5 48.8%

Rushes Yards per Attempt Success Rate Opp. Rate Highlight Yards/Opp.
V. Enwere 18 5.8 50% 28% 10.3
K. Muhammad 9 3.0 44% 33% 0.7
T. Watson 4 2.3 25% 25% 0.5
D. Webb 2 1.0 50% 0% N/A
M. Stovall 1 2.0 0% 0% N/A

Targets Catches Catch Rate Yards Yards per Target Yards per Catch Success Rate
C. Hansen 17 12 70.6% 196 11.5 16.3 58.8%
M. Stovall 9 6 66.7% 74 8.2 12.3 55.6%
J. Veasy 5 3 60.0% 77 15.4 25.7 60.0%
B. Singleton 2 1 50.0% 15 7.5 15.0 50.0%
T. Watson 2 1 50.0% -2 -1.0 -2.0 0.0%
D. Robertson 1 1 100.0% 16 16.0 16.0 100.0%
P. Worstell 1 1 100.0% 13 13.0 13.0 100.0%
V. Enwere 1 1 100.0% 4 4.0 4.0 0.0%
K. Muhammad 1 1 100.0% 3 3.0 3.0 0.0%


The Foreman twins had a hell of a day, then later learned from ESPN's announcing crew that they aren't actually related.

Cmp Att. Yds. TD Int. Yards per attempt Success Rate
S. Buechele 19 33 196 1 1 5.1 32.4%
T. Swoopes 4 6 65 0 1 10.8 50.0%

Rushes Yards per Attempt Success Rate Opp. Rate Highlight Yards/Opp.
D. Foreman 21 7.48 48% 33% 10.0
C. Warren 18 6.61 67% 39% 5.4
T. Swoopes 6 5.33 83% 67% 1.0
S. Buechele 3 4.00 33% 33% 1.5

Targets Catches Catch Rate Yards Yards per Target Yards per Catch Success Rate
A. Foreman 8 4 50.0% 72 9.0 18 50.0%
J. Burt 8 4 50.0% 36 4.5 9 25.0%
J. Oliver 7 5 71.4% 46 6.6 9.2 42.9%
J. Warrick 5 4 80.0% 64 12.8 16 40.0%
J. Heard 4 2 50.0% 10 2.5 5 25.0%
C. Johnson 3 2 66.7% 16 5.3 8 66.7%
D. Leonard 2 1 50.0% 7 3.5 7 0.0%
D. Duvernay 1 1 100.0% 10 10.0 10 100.0%
D. Foreman 1 0 0.0% 0 0.0 N/A 0.0%

*Notes: Sacks are counted as passing attempts and are factored into the presented yards per attempt figure presented with the passing stats.

Opportunity Rate is the percentage of a runner’s carries that gains at least 5 yards. It is a measure of a runner’s efficiency, although I also like to use success rate to judge a runner’s efficiency.

Highlight Yards per Opportunity is a measure of a running back’s explosiveness. You can find its definition in the advanced stats glossary that I linked earlier in this post. The national average for highlight yards per carry is about 5 yards. For more context on these rushing stats, I encourage you to check out 2015’s rushing stats.


Saturday night’s loss is a hard pill to swallow for a fan base desperate to keep the good vibes flowing. Texas did a few things well in its first road game of the season, but a review of the five factors shows that they didn’t do quite enough to beat California.

Texas was only able to hold serve in the efficiency battle, and Cal was at least slightly better in the other four factors of the game (even if their turnover advantage was due to a bit of luck). Being outdone in the five factors 4-0 with 1 draw is not a good recipe for winning football games.

Be excellent to each other.

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