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Clemson Advanced Statistics: Running the Ball is Hard

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

I will be honest, even though we are only three games into the FBS schedule, I'm not tracking FCS stats, I'm running out of ways to describe our running game. Once again it was utter crap. The basics stats show it and the advanced stats back it up. Clemson is averaging less than 3 yards per carry in all of this and that is unacceptable. I'd argue it is the single biggest reason our offense isn't clicking like fans are used to. Even against North Carolina the offense didn't seem smooth. They were certainly effective, but it wasn't always pretty. I'm really disappointed that DJ Howard got so many carries. His running wasn't much worse than anything we've been doing all year, but it would have been nice to give the carries to other backs and see what happens. I doubt much changes because of our OL, but the extra yard here and there can come in handy.

Opponent Georgia FSU UNC
Line Yards 117.8 91.4 101.6
Highlight Yards 29 25.5 19
Opportunity Rate 12/37 - 32% 10/37 - 27% 9/38 - 24%
Success Rate 26/69 - 38% 25/71 - 35% 31/80 - 39%
Power Success Rate 5/7 - 71% 2/5 - 40% 1/1 - 100%
Stuff Rate 4/37 - 11% 5/37 - 14% 8/38 - 21%
Sack Rate 2/32 - 6% 1/34 - 3% 3/42 - 7%
Explosive Drives 1 1 3
Methodical Drives 3 1 2
Value Drives 4 3 6
Total Drives 13 15 15

Advanced stats reference

Moving away from the rushing stats, it is Tuesday after all and I can't drink at work, things get a bit better. We finally hit 80 plays on drives that count, I believe I had to eliminate 1-2 drives as garbage time so our total plays run is probably closer to 90 in this game. While that number is nice, it was good to see our success rate increase as well. That said, I would like to see that number go up even more. Over the next bye week I'm going to look at our success rate last year to try and compare it. I think the loss of so many weapons at the skill positions is hurting us at continuing drives through successful plays.

To continue with that theme, the power success rate number worries me from the UNC game. Not the percentage, but the number of opportunities. We only ran the ball once on a 3rd or 4th and 2 or less, but we only passed it once or twice as well. That would be ok if we only had 7-8 third downs all game, but we had 18 third downs. We converted 10 of them, but having so many third downs and especially third and longs is not good for an offense's efficiency. Arguably we got lucky moving the ball as well as we did in this game. Remember to say your Hail Watson's this week before bed.

Opponent Georgia FSU UNC
Line Yards 110.2 41.8 66.9
Highlight Yards 147 19 19.5
Opportunity Rate 15/32 - 47% 5/21 - 24% 6/23 - 26%
Success Rate 25/59 - 42% 22/66 - 33% 21/68 - 31%
Power Success Rate 1/3 - 33% 1/1 - 100% 2/3 - 67%
Stuff Rate 5/32 - 16% 7/21 - 33% 4/23 - 17%
Sack Rate 1/27 - 4% 5/45 - 11% 3/45 - 7%
Explosive Drives 4 2 1
Methodical Drives 1 0 2
Value Drives 4 2 3
Total Drives 14 15 12

On defense I think we have an example of a game where we see a few ugly plays color the entire performance. Obviously the screen pass defending needs work, but I'm still pleased with Clemson's run defense. They didn't allow many big runs from UNC and the DL did a good job of containing Elijah Hood who is certainly better than the FSU backfield. I was definitely a bit disappointed in the lower stuff rate compared to FSU, but it was a better rate than the UGA game which is good to see.

I also liked seeing us keep keep UNC's success rate down. One of the big reasons we look at success rate is because it helps identify when the offense is getting into favorable situations with down and distance. If a team is successful on first down it is setting up a 2nd and 5 or less which gives you options. Succeeding there for a 3rd and 1 keeps those options open for getting the first down. The lower our defense can keep this number the fresher they will be and the more efficient they will be. We all saw the defense getting gassed after UNC converted a first down or two. Keeping down the successful plays will help prevent that.

This week with NC State coming up I expect to see similar stats to the UNC game. The Wolfpack appears to have a QB, but not many great weapons around him. I'll be very disappointed if our defense doesn't halt the run game again and it is in pass coverage where we will win or lose this game. Hopefully Venables can successfully light a fire under our defense in practice.