Clemson Statistical Expectations and Performance: FSU Edition

Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It's time for our weekly installment of stat tracking. We are tracking cumulative stats for the season as well as evaluating the stats from each game against a set of established goals. On offense, expectations are to be inside the Top 25 nationally, with a goal of being between in the top 10-20 in total offense and scoring.

It's time for our weekly installment of stat tracking. We are tracking cumulative stats for the season as well as evaluating the stats from each game against a set of established goals. On offense, expectations are to be inside the Top 25 nationally, with a goal of being between in the top 10-20 in total offense and scoring.

Category Top 25 Goal Top 15 Goal FSU 2012 Season
Rushing Offense 192.08 217.23 136 198.5
Passing 274.17 294.17 290 296
Total 445.77 469.54 426 494.5
Scoring 33.38 36.77 37 39
Pass efficiency 147.13 153.32 147.59 152.47
Turnovers Lost 18 17 1 3
Sacks allowed 1.29 1 1 1.5
3rd downs 45.83 47.00 41.17 47.69
Red Zone TD% 66.70 69.20 100.00 75.00

Against FSU, the Tigers only ran for 136 yards on 38 carries. This is where stats can be misleading though-at least the carries and the yards per carry. Tajh Boyd accounted for 44 yards on 18 carries (2.4 ypc), while the starting running back had only 14 carries for 55 yards. Some of the QB runs were designed, but most were not and therefore skew the numbers. I contend that in a game where a team is up by 14 in the 2nd half the run game should play a larger role...or at least a comparable role to the pass game. Andre Ellington, in a game of this magnitude, must get more than 14 carries. A ypc of 3.9 isn't great, but against that defensive front 4, it's very respectable especially considering Ellington didn't rip off a long carry that skews the average--his long run was only 12 yards, meaning we were getting a few yards on every tote.

Again, purely from the stats, there were 39 passes and 38 runs, but several of those runs were pass plays that turned into runs, which might take the pass/run mix from 50/50 to closer to 60/40. Part of that is a function of getting behind late and needing to pass, but that is not entirely . Overall, 77 plays were run for an average of 5.5 yards per play--not quite the goal of 85 plays, but very solid against a top tier defense like the Seminoles.

From a full season perspective, Clemson is still on pace to hit Top 25 in all and Top 10 in most of the main categories--this is not a surprise with a returning starter at qb and the weapons at Chad Morris' disposal--if the offensive line continues to play well, all of the offensive goals are well within reach and this offense could and should end up being one of the elite offensives in all of college football.

Now, to the defense...and things are not quite as rosy on that side of the ball as we all know. Sometimes your eyes can mislead and stats might tell the real story...other times the stats very clearly verify what we already know to be true.

Category 2012 Top 40 2012 Top 20 FSU 2012
Rushing Defense 132.69 113.54 287 207.25
Pass 208.71 192.31 380 236
Pass Efficiency 123.34 114.65 187.2 128.28
Total 351.69 323.92 667 443.25
Sacks 2.21 2.58 1 1
TFL 6.46 7.23 4 5
Interceptions 13 15 0 5
3rd Downs 36.73 34.24 61.54 31.48
Scoring 23.08 20.31 49.00 25.50

At this rate, the Tigers D is on track to hit the Top 20 goal on 3rd down conversion percentage for the season adn at this rate, an interception total in the 13-15 range is achievable with 5 thus far in 4 games. Although in both of those categories, the FSU game was a big miss--how big would an INT have been sometime in the late 3rd or early 4th quarter? How about another 3rd down stop or two? 61% conversion rate in Tallahassee last Saturday--that number and the rest of the defensive numbers must improve over the course of the season. The numbers will certainly improve, because FSU has a far more dynamic offense than most others we will face the rest of the way...but saying the D will improve off a performance where 49 points and nearly 600 yards of offense were allowed is...well, let's just say that not exactly a high bar. Back to the interceptions, the stated goal of 1 pick per 15 attempts is now being missed on the season. We've faced 122 pass attempts and had 5 picks--an interception per attempt rate of around 4%, not the stated goal of 6.6%.

A few additional defensive stats...

The Tiger D has been on the field for 276 plays so far this season--on 55 of those plays, they've allowed a gain of 10 or more yards. Think about that for a second--that is nearly 20% of the opposing offenses snaps where they've gained 10+ yards. And nearly half of those 55 plays (22 to be exact) have gone for 20+ yards. To continue on this path a bit more--the D is facing, on average, 5.4 plays per possession, which means that they are allowing a 10+ yard game EACH TIME the opponent has the ball and a 20+ yard play every other time.

Through 4 games, the D ranks 70th in scoring D, 105th in total yardage and 112th in yards per play. At this point, the goal should be to start to reduce the total yardage allowed and end up south of 400 yards/game--the Top 40 goal of 350/game is probably the best case scenario at this point. If scoring D can remain the low to mid 20's for the rest of the season the offense should be able to carry this team to a bunch more wins, but it puts a lot of pressure on Tajh and Co. to go the entire season without an off day (off quarter? off possession?), continue to limit turnovers and avoid key injuries, especially along the OL.

Again, none of us that watched the game needs to study the stats to know what an epic defensive fail occurred Saturday night in Tallahassee, but it sure as hell verifies that we saw what we thought we saw...and let's hope we don't see it again anytime soon. Twice in 9 months is plenty.

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