Using F/+ & Returning Starters to predict FSU 2012 statistical performance

Final '11 F/+ Ranking Team Unit F/+ 2010 Rk. F/+ % RS F/+ 2011 Rk. F/+% Improvement
1 Bama T 3 29% 17 1 35.80% 6.80%
D 15 10 1 14
O 5 7 7 -2
2 LSU T 13 18.80% 16 2 34.10% 15.30%
D 12 7 2 10
O 46 9 6 40
3 OSU T 12 19.20% 16 3 27.40% 8.20%
D 18 6 5 13
O 27 10 3 24

Looking forward to FSU 2012: Unit F/+ 2011 Rk. F/+ % RS

FSU T 8 18.40% 18

D 6 9

O 32 9

Someone, I believe ricobert, posted a few notes on Twitter about this years big boys - LSU and Bama - and how they finished in 2010 F/+, including returning starters. It was pointed out that FSU returns a similar amount of starters from 2011 with final 2011 F/+ positions close to those of 2010 Bama/LSU.

The 2010 Bama team was statistically almost as good as anyone in the country. They were defending national champions and remained an elite team despite returning just 10 starters, losing 9 defenders and all their specialists in the process. From a #1 defense they dropped only to #15 despite losing those 9. Clearly, all that playing time helped and the 10 defenders that returned for 2011 managed to be the #1 unit in the country, and that dominant D carried them to Saban's 3rd title.

2010 Bama returned 17 starters for the 2011 season - 10 from a #15 D, and 7 from a #5 offense. Losing a Heisman winning RB and your QB always hurts, but to drop only to 7th in Off F/+ is pretty impressive. Their defense is included in conversations of "best defenses of all time", and they're going to load the draft with defenders in a way that hasn't been seen since 2001 Miami, with 7-8 defenders likely to be drafted and 6 projected in first 3 rounds. They finished 2010 with a +29% F/+ number, which is easily top 3 caliber most any year.

2011 FSU can't be compared to 2010 Bama - though we're building quality talent and depth with recruiting, we simply don't have the talent and depth that Saban does, yet. We also don't have the benefit of wearing Rings on recruiting trips - yet. We aren't putting out 1st round defenders - yet.

2010 LSU is probably a better analogue to 2011 FSU. 2010 LSU finished 13th in F/+ with a +18.8% ranking, the #12 D and a #46 offense. The #12 D returned 7 starters and finished 2011 ranked #2 behind the big boys, while losing 3 players to the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft. The #46 offense returned all key players except Ridley but RB depth was never a concern. They returned 9 starters and finished 2011 ranked #6.

Oklahoma State finished 2010 12th F/+ with +19.2%, the #18 D returned 6 starters and finished 5th, and the #27 offense returned 10 starters and finished 3rd. Their offense isn't truly comparable to ours, but they had similar 2010 finish/2011 improvements/returning starters.

Looking at 2011 FSU:

Our defense grew up over the course of the season. The penalty mistakes we saw at the Clemson game were corrected. The defense carried us down the stretch as the injury-plagued offense seemed to wilt. The improvement over the year isn't a slight on their early performance, as they held OU and Clemson to some of their lowest YPP marks of the season (pre-November for Clemson, November 1st hits garbage time for them).

Many other people have written many words about our offense. Most are vulgar. The offensive line's lack of depth stems from hellacious injury luck and prioritizing defensive recruiting over OL in 2010. After a horrible run down the stretch of the season, the all-freshman-and-Zebrie OL grew up in the 2nd half of the ND game. They outplayed one of the better DL's they saw all year - clearly, they have a bright future.

The OL wasn't even close to being the only offensive unit snakebit with injuries. We saw QB1, RB1, 3 WR's go down over the year. EJ was playing with one arm while running for his life half the year. With the performance of the OL, the run game was... "ineffective", and EJ got hit more times than he needed to be hit. But don't forget this is a unit that returned much of the 2010 unit that was by all means excellent. We lost a 1st round QB, an OL who is starting as a rookie, and a very solid center - but the majority of skill players returned, and will be returning next year.

The 2011 offense finished 32nd in Off F/+. It may have been ugly, but EJ finished the year with a 65+% completion rating, 2-1 INT rating, and finished top 25 in most passing categories. His mental play was poor, but be it either through play-calling or decision-making, Jimbo's offense was able to keep from turning the ball over a lot, outside of the Wake game. This offense returns 9 starters, and loses only one meaningful player, Zebrie. Bert Reed had a good career but we are deep at WR. Jermaine, Ty Jones, Beau Reliford, and Ja'Baris Little - thank you for your careers, but we are replacing Bowden-era guys with quality talent. EJ's senior campaign and 2nd year starting should show significant improvement if he and his big men can stay healthy.

Basing this prediction of other teams' year-to-year improvements can be shaky because of the big question on the OL, but if the OL stays healthy & looks like they did in 2nd half ND game, 2012 FSU Offense should follow the trends of 2010 OSU/LSU and finish top 10.

The 2011 defense finished 6th in Def F/+ and has been the shining bright spot of this team. The non-adjusted statistics show similar levels of excellence, 3rd total defense by YPP, etc. While we may have played a relatively easy schedule, we've performed well against the good offenses we've faced.

We return 9 starters on defense and lose Nigel Bradham and Mike Harris. While we're not sure whose going to be taking Terrence Parks' spot, it'd be a stretch to say we couldn't replace him. Our CB depth was a major concern for 2012 until both Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes announced they'd be staying. Terrance Brooks got better and better every game and should be a major contributor next year. Hopefully he can fill Mike Harris' role, or we can move LJ down and Brooks back in nickel situations. Telvin, Vince, and CJ7 will make up our LB unit, and that doesn't bother me too much at all. Our DL will haunt the dreams of Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas, on its worst days. It's safe to say this defense will remain elite and improve, and that doesn't even consider which of the younger players (the Lucs, Waisome's, and Los of the world) will contribute.

The 2011 FSU defense finished 6th, well ahead of 2010 Bama/LSU/OSU, who finished 2010 15th/12th/18th. Only Bama returned more starters than FSU will. It's also arguable that we lost less to graduation/NFL than any of those 3. Considering they all finished 2011 top 5, anything less than top 3 Def F/+ would be a disappointment for the 2012 FSU unit.

Based on returning starters, existing depth, and the trajectories of similar teams - FSU will finish top 10 Off F/+, and top 3 Def F/+. This places FSU solidly into top 5 territory for 2012. If Cason Beatty is half the punter Shawn Powell was, we can expect a top 10 ST finish again, as well.

A healthy 2012 FSU should statistically be the best team in the ACC, better than anyone on the 2012 schedule, and has a realistic shot at the MNC. Statistically.

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