Many Nole fans had high expectations for this year’s team. The expectations for the defense were based on two solid years of production and a lot of returning starters. The expectations for the offense, however, were based less on precedent and more on projections, i.e., a lot of returning starters, a fifth-year senior QB and a revamped OL. And although the OL is short on experience, they are the biggest and most athletic group that we have seen at FSU in 10+ years. Plus Rick Trickett has proven that he can do a lot with an OL that is short on experience.
Since we’re half way through the season sitting at 5-1 it’s a good time to take at look at the key indicators for the defense, offense and the team as a whole. This will allow us to evaluate our actual performance against our pre-season expectations. In order to make this data more meaningful, the data have been limited to the following parameters:
Note that three ACC teams have played only 4 games against FBS opponents (FSU, Maryland, Boston College) while all others have played five games. All of these stats are available through www.cfbstats.com.
Key Defensive Rankings
#1 Scoring Defense – allowing 17.8 P/G
#2 Rushing Defense – behind only Maryland; allowing 92.5 Y/G
#2 Passing Defense – behind only Maryland; allowing only 193.8 Y/G
#5 TFL – behind NCST, UNC, Maryland, Wake & VT; 6 TFL/G
#1 Passes Defended – 6 PD/G
#2 Opponent 3rd Down Conversions – behind only NCST; 27.27% Conversion
#12 Opponent TD Conversions in the Red Zone.
#1 20+ Yard Plays from Scrimmage Allowed – only 10 such plays allowed
First, Nole opponents have only made 8 trips inside our Red Zone; the next two closest teams are Maryland (10) & NCST/UNC (15). But in these 8 trips opponents have put points on the board 100% of the time: 6 TDs and 2 FGs. Second, the TFL ranking isn’t surprising given Stoops’ general strategy of playing zone and rushing only four. Last, it will be interesting to watch Maryland in the second half of the season—and in week 11 when we travel to College Park—to see if they can sustain a very good first half of the season. All things considered I think that half way through the season the defense is where we expected it to be.
Key Offensive Rankings
#3 Scoring Offense – behind Clemson and UNC; 36.8 P/G
#3 Total Offense – behind only Clemson & UNC; 36.8 P/G
#2 Rushing Offense – behind only GT; 244.75 Y/G
#8 Passing Offense – above only VT, Wake, Maryland and GT; 266.8 Y/G
#2 Total Offense – behind only Clemson; 511.5 Y/G
#4 Turnover Margin – behind Miami, UNC & Clemson; 0.25/G
#10 Sacks Allowed – above only NCST & Maryland; 2.5 S/G
#11 FTL Allowed – above only Maryland; 7.5 TFLA/G
#5 3rd Down Conversions – behind Clemson, Miami, GT & UNC; 39.29% Conversion
#8 RZ TD Conversion – tied with VT, above only BC, Miami & Duke; 57.14 RZ TD%
#4 20+ Yard Plays from Scrimmage – behind UNC, Clemson, UVA & BC.
Thus far compared to 2011 we have improved in Total Offense, our ability to run the ball and slightly in our ability to convert on 3rd down. Our explosive play ability has stayed about the same; although in 2011 our big plays from EJ’s arm and this year we’re getting the them from the ground game. But half way through the season we are still struggling with the following things with which we struggled in 2011: scoring TDs in the Red Zone, pass protection (i.e., Sacks & TFL Allowed).
Key Special Teams and Team Rankings
# 6 Field Goal Percentage - 70%
Home vs. the Road: There is a very (very) big discrepancy in FSU’s rankings between games played at Home vs. On the Road/Neutral Site. But we have only had two of each type of game (against FBS opponents), so I’m not sure that we can draw any meaningful conclusions about this just yet. Games at Miami, Blacksburg and College Park will tell us more in this category.
Penalties: as a team FSU has the 4th most penalties per game (behind only UNC, UVA & NCST); and the 3rd most penalty yards per game (behind only UVA and UNC).
Despite ranking last in Red Zone TDs allowed, all indicators indicate that our D has maintained its status as the ACC’s best and so has met pre-season expectations thus far. Has the offense met pre-season expectations? Partly. With respect to rushing and total offensive production, “yes”, but much of our rushing and total offensive production is due to explosive plays. So when an opponent gameplans to take away the big play or the run, the offense could struggle, e.g., vs. NCST the offense only produced 343 yards of total offense, 125 yards on the ground and16 points. The areas of the offense that have not met pre-season expectations by mid-season are pass protection, the passing game and scoring TDs in the Red Zone. It’s important to note that these three things were all problems last season and so were no doubt areas of focus in the off-season.