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Stats Deeper Dive: Looking ahead to BC

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Over the past few weeks, we've started to look at stats at a deeper level trying to better understand offensive and defensive efficiency and its impact on the outcome of games. This week, we continue to look at how Clemson ranks nationally in several categories with the added component of evaluating the upcoming opponent, Boston College.

Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The table below shows offensive stats as we've shown the past few weeks with one small adjustment. In addition to displaying the FBS average, the 90th percentile in each category and Clemson's offensive stats and rank year to date, we are also showing, for comparison purposes, the BC defensive stats. Likewise, when we get to the defensive stats next, we will show the BC offensive stats for each category and evaluate those.

Category Avg. Top 10% Clemson RANK BC Def
Plays/G 71.5 82.5 79.0 22 84.0
Poss/G 12.6 14.0 12.8 46 13.3
Pts/Poss 2.4 3.5 3.1 26 1.7
Red Zone Opps/Poss 32% 45% 31% 63 28%
Plays/Poss 5.7 6.5 6.2 26 6.3
Scores/Poss 40% 53% 53% 17 35%
TDs/Poss 31% 46% 37% 35 15%
Negative Plays/G 7.2 4.3 6.3 40 4.0
3rd Down Convs/G 6.0 8.0 7.8 16 8.7
TDs/G 3.9 5.7 4.8 28 2.0
Red Zone Opps/G 4.0 5.5 4.0 54 3.7

The Tigers offense still ranks in the top 25 in Plays per game, Scores per possession and 3rd Down conversions per game. With 6 scoring drives against FSU the other night, Clemson continues to score points every other time they have the ball. In 2011, there were 13 teams that had a scores/possession rate of 50% or higher--11 out of those 13 teams won 10 or more games (lowest totals were 7 wins for Air Force and 9 wins for Toledo). This is a stat worth watching--essentially that will equate to around 6 scoring drives per game, which should result in a healthy points scored per game average.

BC's defense has been on the field a ton so far this season--84 snaps a game and over 13 possessions per game thus far. It appears as though a lot of this is driven from 3rd down conversions and a dearth of negative plays--BC ranks 119th in defensive 3rd down conversions allowed per game and 120th in negative plays per game (sacks + TFL's). Where BC's defense has been tremendous is in forcing FG's instead of TDs in the Red Zone --only allowing 2 TDs in 11 opponent Red zone drives. They have given up a total of 6 TDs, so teams have been breaking off some long TD plays. BC's D is allowing a TD on only 18% of red zone drives and the Clemson offense has scored TDs on 75% of RZ drives--something will have to give in this game on this front and whichever team performs closer to their season average will certainly have a strong chance to get a W.

Category Avg. Top 10% Clemson RANK BC Off
Plays/G 70.4 61.0 69.0 52 74.7
Poss/G 12.6 14.2 12.8 65 12.3
Pts/Poss 1.9 1.0 2.0 71 2.1
Red Zone Opps/Poss 27% 15% 29% 74 43%
Plays/Poss 5.6 4.9 5.4 48 6.1
Scores/Poss 33% 18% 35% 75 41%
TDs/Poss 24% 11% 24% 62 22%
Negative Plays/G 8.1 11.6 6.0 99 4.7
3rd Down Convs/G 5.7 3.8 4.3 16 4.7
TDs/G 3.1 1.4 3.0 59 2.7
Red Zone Opps/G 3.3 2.0 3.8 76 5.3

BC's offense has been below average in most stats this season with the exception of a relatively low amount of negative plays per game--this means they are giving up very few sacks and getting positive yards on most plays. They are averaging over 5 yards a play and getting to the red zone fairly often--5.3 RZ opportunities per game ranks 14th best in the country.

The biggest bugaboo for BC thus far is Red Zone scoring--whereas the Clemson offense is a perfect 12 for 12 in the Red Zone this season, the BC offense is 11 out of 16 (68%) in Red Zone scoring, with only 5 TDs in those chances. Frankly, those stats scare the hell out of me--over the course of a season, a low Red Zone scoring % is indicative of a systemic problem close in with an offense...after 3 games it could be largely due to bad luck.

With BC averaging 400 yards per game of offense and Clemson's D giving up nearly 450, I'd say it's a safe bet to to expect that BC will move the ball on Saturday--the outcome of the game may well come down to Red Zone performance and if the BC offense finds a way to punch the ball into the end zone vs. the Tigers D, that could spell trouble. The Clemson D will need to continue the trend of tightening up a bit in the Red Zone (ranks 25th in RZ TD% at a 40% rate) as they have in the first 4 games.

To finish this up, let's take a quick look at the SOS so far this year for BC.

I like to look at this based on the strength of the offensive and defensive units that teams have faced. BC's opponents have allowed about 42% more points per possession than the average FBS defense, which means that the BC already average stats are likely inflated to some degree--against better than average defenses this season (not Clemson's), BC will likely struggle to move the ball and put up points. On the other side of the ball, BC's opponents have scored about 17% fewer points per possession so far this year, so again, that is making the defensive stats look a bit better.

Adjusting the efficiency stats based on quality of opponents and plugging those into the prediction model results in a predicted 29-22 victory for the Tigers on Saturday. We'll be back next week with updated stats and a closer look at Georgia Tech.