This is the 2nd week of the stats tracker which compares our current 2015 numbers with the numbers of the National Championship teams from 2008-2014 and also the best and worst of Clemson from 2011 to 2014. These are hand-picked statistics that have shown a stronger than normal correlation to elite level winning.
This week we get to see what kind of affect the Miami Massacre had on our statistical standing. I am including last week's rankings in parentheses so that you can see how we moved up/down after the game Saturday. I have also bolded the stats that say we are operating on a National Championship level. Let's start out with the offense.
(All data courtesy of Football Outsiders and Cfbstats.com)
As you can see the Miami game raised our rushing profile here substantially. Last week I wrote:
"there is a lot of season left and, with our OL young and improving, we should see the rushing numbers increase on a game by game basis."
Sure, but not all in one week. I guess when you physically wipe the floor with a solid team for 58 points, this is the increase you would expect. Are these rushing numbers skewed by a Miami laydown? Perhaps the top two rushing stats are, but the third (S&P) is a different story. After we went up 28-0 early in the 2nd Quarter, Advanced Stats declared the game to be in "garbage time." We remained in garbage time the rest of the game and thus no statistics were counted after that 28-0 lead. Not so coincidentally, Kaaya was knocked out of the game on the next series and this is precisely when I believe Miami's spirit was broken and their team-wide effort level diminished (read: gave up).
For the 20 minutes of non-garbage time rushing we accrued, S&P Rushing moved us up from 66th to 11th. Clearly, S&P thought this one and a half quarter of dominance was very impressive. With the eye test and the numbers combined, we have to consider the possibility that our 5 new starters on the OL are getting better. Of course, we may look better or worse from week to week because of the strength of our opponent, but I think improvement is what we are seeing. If you recall, Ohio State's OL went from being destroyed by VT in game 1 to punishing Alabama in game 14 last year. Could we do the unthinkable and get there? Do we even need to be that dominant running the ball to win out?
The passing numbers were also affected by the Miami game but, they were affected for the worse. We were so dominant in the run game that we never had to throw downfield. It was basically the opposite of the BC game. Even though our pass numbers may have declined this week, we have shown an ability to attack defensive weaknesses by attacking though the air. S&P has us as a top 5 passing team in the nation and that is within the elite level. This means that if a defense is going to stack the box to stop the run, S&P believes we will hurt them in the passing game.
The defense is elite so far. The stats reflect what we already know. It is just shocking that we can lose 9 starters and be #1 against the run. I think back to that Mike Patrick quote in the bowl game last year and then I think back to how bad the defense looked in the spring and I just marvel at the job Clemson has done in player development. If you're a 4 or 5 star defensive talent and you want to get coached up and developed for the NFL, what school would you choose? If this holds, I think we can expect some fresh names to pop up on our radar in December and January, especially at LB where we have immediate playing time available.
Overall, the national rankings compare very favorably with National Championship teams of the past 7 years. F/+ thinks we are the best team in the nation by a substantial margin right now. S&P says we're the best team but, we're not at the previous level of dominance offensively by National Championship Teams. My verdict right now is that we may be good enough to win the NC but, we are not of that cloth just yet.
The stat with the strongest correlation (The Stat of Eliteness) says that we have not arrived. Offensive S&P backs that up. Right now, what we're looking for is the situation we have right now in college football. There reallyisn't the usual lead group of elite teams that don't have some major holes in their game. Right now, F/+ has declared us, to quote CUVince, "King of a bunch of pansy a$$ jokers." If that's what allows us to win our second National Championship, then I guess stats really will be for the losers.