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Despite Deshaun Watson Clemson's Offense Wasn't Good Against FSU

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Ronald Martinez

We all saw what can be kindly characterized as several missed opportunities on Saturday. We also saw what seemed to be an extremely dominant defense stymy Florida State all evening. In this article we are breaking down the game using the advanced statistics I mentioned previously here.Just a note that all statistics in a column pertain to that team's offense.

Clemson Florida State
Line Yards 91.4 41.8
Highlight Yards 25.5 19
Opportunity Rate 10/37 - 27% 5/21 - 24%
Success Rate 25/71 - 35% 22/66 - 33%
Power Success Rate 2/5 - 40% 1/1 - 100%
Stuff Rate 5/37 - 14% 7/21 - 33%
Sack Rate 1/34 - 3% 5/45 - 11%
Explosive Drives 1 2
Methodical Drives 1 0
Value Drives 3 2

As you can see our defense was as dominant as advertised. The stuff rate is particularly impressive when you remember that it does not include sacks, they are counted under passing plays. Venables let his defense attack and they were able to get into the backfield with relative ease. When your blitzing linebacker can shoot the A gap without being touched life is pretty good and Clemson managed to keep doing it for the entire game.

The sack rate is on the lower side, but I think that has more to do with the number of pass attempts than Clemson having a problem getting to the QB. Five sacks is a pretty good total even though there is a preference to look at rate based statistics.

I also really like how we limited FSU to rushes of 4 yards or less. Looking at the opportunity rate the FSU OL beat Clemson's DL in the running game only 5 times out of the 21 opportunities. That is fantastic. For comparison, Ohio State had an opportunity rate of nearly 40% when we beat them. This was definitely a defensive battle and maybe the best way to describe things is to say Clemson made the FSU OL look worse than our OL.

Now a lot of y'all are going to scoff at it, but look at the numbers above. Our OL did a better job of preventing not only sacks, but also tackles for a loss. Only 5 of our 37 rushing plays ended behind the LOS. Now that said they didn't exactly do a wonderful job in the running game, but they beat out the FSU DL 10 times, double the number the FSU OL did. Unfortunately that would only translate to 5-6 times if we ran the ball an equal number of times to FSU.

Even with the additional rushing attempts our OL was worth an extra 1.4 yards per rush compared to FSU's OL. It isn't much but it definitely mattered during the game. Even though we weren't breaking huge runs with consistency, we did have a rushing attack that was close to 3 yards per carry. Not an example of excellence, but far better than FSU's.

The bottom line is even the underlying stats say we should have won. This was not a game where we were ahead because of FSU's ineptitude or we got lucky, we were the better team during the game. We just failed to capitalize on the opportunities we had and FSU is too good of a team to do that against.