ACC 2010 Offenses: One Last Look

With only a few days remaining before the opening of fall camp and just under a month before the 2011 kickoff, interest in 2010 is fading rapidly.  With FSU's prospects for returning to championship form looking brighter and brighter we'll take our last comprehensive looks at what happened last year-focusing on the all-important first step in competing at the highest level....conference play.  FSU fielded the 7th best offense in the nation according to the outstanding Football Outsiders system-considering all 14 games-for the highest ranking among ACC teams.  Here we only look at the eight games leading to their first ACC Atlantic Division crown since 2005 and whether or not they actually performed like the best.


After several months of data gathering, evaluation, head scratching and heart-to-heart talks with excel spreadsheets, what we have is over 6000 plays and 1000 drives worth of data with 121 metrics inspired by the good folks at FO.  Most of these metrics are copies or close relatives of the F/+ system.  However, the calculations are based primarily upon the mean and variance of the competitive playing time drives that occurred during the 48 regular season ACC games.

Per-Play Stats


Here is a brief explanation of how each offense was evaluated on the lowest divisible football level:

  • Standard down - Any 1st and 10 or less, 2nd and 7 or less, 3rd and 4 or less.
  • Successful play - Any gain of at least 50% of necessary yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd down and 100% on 3rd down, plus a slight modification to include any conversion of a non-standard down to a standard down.
  • Explosive play - A gain of equal to or greater than the conference average gain per play, plus one standard deviation.
  • Sacks - These occur on passing plays and are counted as such.
  • Excluded plays - When the game is mathematically over, i.e. the losing team did not have enough possessions left to overcome the deficit.

Per-Drive Stats


All of these metrics are based on the average drive and variance with the intent of counting every drive that results in something meaningfully positive or negative:

  • Sustained drive - Any drive consisting of at least the conference average plays per drive and at least the average yards gained per drive.
  • Scoring drive - Any drive that advances the ball at least into field goal range with a probability of scoring at least one point (inside the 35 about 1/3rd of all field goals were successful) and the offense gains at least the average drive possible yardage.
  • 3 and out - No first downs or score.
  • Explosive drive - A scoring drive in which the average plus one standard deviation yards per play are gained.
  • Dominant drive - A scoring drive consisting of at least the average plus one standard deviation of; plays, yards, possible yardage and success rate.
  • Field flipping drive - Any drive that begins behind the average starting field position and gains at least the average potential yardage.

Opponent Adjustments


Each metric was adjusted to correct every team's schedule to that of an average schedule with a rather simple multiplication factor; the ratio of the conference average to opponent average.  The complete breakdown can be found at the link below.

2010 ACC Conference games offense.

Yes, there is a lot of data to sort through here.  Some of the trouble can be saved by simply viewing the summary below.




Based on a rudimentary ranking system, giving equal weighting to each metric, the Seminole offense turned in the 3rd best overall performance in 2010.  This should not be mistaken as evidence they had the league's third best offense.  It is simply the average ranking (1-12) considering every metric to be equal and discrete.  Here is a summary of strengths and weaknesses:

Top Ranking


  • Explosive running plays (all downs).
  • Yards per run (all 2nd downs).
  • Explosive runs (all 2nd downs).
  • Yards per run (SD 2nd downs).
  • Ypp (all 3rd downs).
  • Success rate (all 3rd downs).
  • Ypp (NSD 3rd downs).
  • Success rate (NSD 3rd downs).
  • Yards per pass (all 3rd downs).
  • Yards per pass (NSD 3rd downs).
  • Success rate (NSD 3rd downs).
  • Success rate running (SD 3rd downs).
  • Dominant drives.

The Not-So-Good Stuff


  • Dead last in explosive 1st down passing.
  • Negative plays, negative plays and more negative plays. They ranked better than 6th in the league in only one negative play situation (3rd down runs).
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