Hello, late-July-into-early-August South. Thanks for the agony of unmitigated moist enthalpy, though your sea-breeze's and outflow boundary collisions help at times. "It's not the heat; it's the humidity." It's both, of course. Clown statement, bro.
Speaking of clown statements, if you picked up the last few year's Noles offenses and defenses, turned them upside-down, and shook them - you'd have quite a few tons of very angry young men questioning your decision-making skills and whether your parents were ever married. But you'd also shake loose some interesting stats.
I will elucidate some now, and may you ever outrun your competition.
Exhibits A & 2:
4.22, 5.34, 5.20, 5.39, 4.38 yards per Seminole carry. 2007--2011 seasonal averages. Sacks and sack yardage removed.
Note the humble beginnings, quick ascension, and dastardly reversion. Just off the cuff, these numbers correlated pretty closely to line maturity, culminating in the 2010 line which returned 146 combined starts. The 2011 dropoff - I tend to place the blame more on Jimbo's shoulders than Trickett by not accounting for player attrition in terms of scholarship OL on roster, followed up with subpar quantity recruitment of offensive linemen (Mr. 2010, I'm looking at you) that flamed an injury brushfire into a firestorm.
Back to the numbers, the quality of FSU opponent defenses has varied over the 2007--2011 timeframe, undoubtedly. FSU has faced the following set of most difficult set of defenses - otherwise known as Offensive Strength of Schedule (OSOS) - over the same period: 21st, 6th, 7th, 1st, and 60th. Or all of this in table form:
There's a lot here. Consider that the 2010 FSU rushing offense put up its best rushing performance of the Trickett era against the hardest slate of FBS opposing defenses.
Hired just after the 2006 season in January of 2007, Trickett's Fall 2007 offensive line was...well, rag-tag. Having said that, FSU in 2011 faced a much easier set of defenses than its 2007 counterpart, so the +0.16 ypc difference isn't that meaningful. We can agree to call both of them meh.
2008 was a revelation in terms of improved blocking and back runs playing within the scheme, as Bud chronicled ad nauseum. And this against the 6th most difficult set of defenses faced. The 2008 FSU offensive line was comprised of (L-R) Datko (Fr.), Hudson (So.), McMahon (RS So.), Spurlock (Fr.), and Sanders (Fr.). That line only returned 23 starts from 2007: McMahon (13), Hudson (10).
So what does this portend for the 2012 FSU offensive line? Well, until we know the exact starters, I'm not sure. But let's assume for a moment a line consisting of Erving (RS So.), Matias (So.), Barron (So.), Jackson (So.), & Stork (RS Jr.). That configuration features a returning starts total of 19: Stork (14), Barron (3), Jackson (1), Matias (1); 4 less than the 2008 FSU OL.
The experience level could between the two lines can actually be considered equal, though, as FSU would be returning 4 starters with starting experience (compared to just 2 in 2008). I don't have the birthday info, but we can assume the 2008 OL ages to be something like 18, 19, 20, 18, and 18 across (L-R). Using the potential starters above, 2012 could feature OL of ages 20, 19, 19, 19, and 21. That's a full year older on average (19.6) than the 2008 offensive line (18.6). Props to onebarrelrum for pointing this out to me via Twitter. That should only be a good thing in terms of strength and frontal lobe development (only 1/2 joking on that last part). For more comparison, the ND-FSU bowl game OL age was Sr., Fr., Fr., Fr., & Fr. Assuming 22, 18, 18, 18, and 17 (Hart), that's a physical age of 18.6, same as the beginning-of-year 2008 OL.
2.95, 2.89, 2.31, 1.27, & 1.14 opponent yards per carry. 2011 seasonal averages based on the part of the field the opponent occupied.
These are the average rushing yards allowed per carry by the 2011 defense based on the part of the field the opponent was on: Opponent's 1 To 20 Yard Line, 21-39, 40 to FSU's 40, 39-21, and 20 to the 1 yard line (RZ).
Note that the yardages decrease as less and less deep parts of the field become necessary to cover. This makes physical sense to see these numbers decrease. (Though, statistically, the RZ measurement is a bit flawed because a 1-yard gain can result in a TD, thus lowering the YPC totals).
Compare these to the 2010 numbers (4.07, 4.35, 2.28, 3.94, 1.85) and you can see how FSU could have gone from the 40th-ranked S&P+ rushing defense in 2010 to 9th in 2011. (No, sacks (41) and sack yardage (290) are not removed for these numbers. But they are similar to the 2010 sack totals (48 for 264 yards), and we can assume there is not a huge disparity from '10 to '11 on what downs the sacks occurred.)
In 2011, FSU forced 6.9 opponent punts per game.
Why is that impressive? Because amongst all FBS teams, only Oklahoma (92 / 13 games) forced more punts per game in 2011 (7.2) than FSU (90 / 13). After filtering to account for opponents who finished 2011 with a winning record, FSU still forced an impressive 6.3 punts per game, good for T-5th nationally.
Imma just gone leave this heeya.