UCLA is second-to-last in the Pac-12 in third-down conversions, converting only 36.6 percent of its third-down tries. USC is the only team worse at 36.1 percent.
Here’s a look at how third-down touches were distributed between running backs and receivers during the first nine games. The boxes that are shaded purple were passing plays and the blue boxes were rushing attempts. Quarterback attempts are shown in the separate box.
Of UCLA’s 134 third-down attempts, 84 were pass attempts, 41 were rushing plays and nine resulted in sacks, which are recorded as rushing plays for the quarterback, but were likely called pass plays. The Bruins converted 24 of 41 third-down attempts on the ground (58.5 percent) as opposed to just 25 of 84 (29.8 percent) through the air, but, as expected, faced a shorter distance to go on rushing downs. UCLA’s average yards to gain on third downs in which the team passed was 7.8 yards while rushing attempts were with 5.4 yards to go. (In this instance, plays that resulted in sacks were included as “passes” when calculating the average distance to go.)
Dorian Thompson-Robinson has completed 33.3 percent of his third-down passes while Wilton Speight was at 25.9 percent. Both have thrown one third-down interception this year, but Thompson-Robinson has taken nine third-down sacks to Speight’s none. Opposing defenses aren’t shy about blitzing the young quarterback, especially on third down.
Caleb Wilson is the most targeted pass-catcher on third down with 20 pass plays intended for the tight end, but Theo Howard is the most successful. Wilson converts 40 percent of his third-down looks while Howard has converted 46.2 percent of his chances.
Speight appears to prefer Howard as four of Speight’s seven successful third-down throws have been to the junior receiver. Demetric Felton, Joshua Kelley and Wilson each had one successful conversion on throws from Speight. Thompson-Robinson appears to favor Wilson, although had a more balanced distribution overall. Of Thompson-Robinson’s 19 successful third-down throws, seven went to Wilson. Kazmeir Allen, Michael Ezeike and Howard each had two, and Kyle Philips, Martell Irby, Dymond Lee, Chase Cota, Felton and Kelley each had one.
Kelley has converted 10 of his 12 third-down rushing attempts with all being third-and-short situations (3 or fewer yards to go).
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