Florida State Football: The hidden yards v. Clemson

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Noles cleaned house in Death Valley last Saturday, let's take a look at what they did well.

On Saturday October 19th we witnessed what could be described as Jimbo Fisher's most signature win during his tenure at Florida State. The #5 Florida State Seminoles (2nd in F/+) went into Death Valley to take on the #3 ranked Clemson Tigers (10th in F/+). Many predicted that Florida State would despite not winning there since 2001. Those individuals were correct but they could have never predicted the absolute domination that Florida State brought down on Clemson. Let's take a look at some numbers to see just how dominant the Noles were in this game.

Florida State's Offense
Result Possible Gained Plays Per Play % Gained
TOUCHDOWN 34 34 3 11.33 100%
FIELD GOAL 88 77 16 4.81 88%
TOUCHDOWN 37 - - - -
Interception 65 31 4 7.75 48%
Punt 87 0 3 0.00 0%
TOUCHDOWN 95 95 4 23.75 100%
FIELD GOAL 78 72 13 5.54 92%
TOUCHDOWN 42 42 6 7.00 100%
Punt 70 5 5 1.00 7%
TOUCHDOWN 66 66 8 8.25 100%
Totals 662 422 62 6.81 64%

  • The Noles gained 6.81 yards per play before garbage time (this total would be 7.29 if you include the fumble return by Mario Edwards, Jr). This is very, very good against a much improved Clemson defense (9th ranked defense according to F/+ before the game took place). With a strong running game somewhat absent in this contest, Jameis Winston picked the Clemson defense apart piece by piece until he had racked up 444 passing yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • The Noles' average starting field position was on their own 34 yard line. That is a great place to start all of your drives on average. This was mostly due to Florida State forcing 4 turnovers in the contest (2 fumbles, 2 interceptions). The 2 fumbles specifically helped tilt this game in the Noles' favor since they were so early in the game and one was returned for a touchdown.
  • Florida State logged two explosive drives in this game (drives of 10 YPP or more). This came on the first offensive drive of the game where Winston lobbed a beautiful pass to Kelvin Benjamin who had an equally as beautiful catch. More astounding is that the second explosive drive came from the Noles' worst starting field position of the night. Winston marched the offense up the field in just 4 plays for a touchdown (Rashad Greene's ridiculous TD play) after starting on their own 5 yard line. Who cares about field position when you can do something like that.
  • Florida State is once again showing that they are one of the most efficient offenses in the country, gaining 64% of all possible yards during non-garbage time.
  • Sidenote: Clemson's F/+ ranking of 9th in defense was not a fluke either, their defense has played very well this year with the exception of some pretty poor safety play. The rankings released on October 12th were the first of the season that did not include any preseason data.
Florida State's Defense
Result Possible Gained Plays Per Play % Gained
Fumble 75 9 1 9.00 12%
Punt 67 18 5 3.60 27%
Fumble 74 11 5 2.20 15%
TOUCHDOWN 65 65 11 5.91 100%
Punt 42 7 5 1.40 17%
Punt 51 6 6 1.00 12%
Interception 71 46 6 7.67 65%
Punt 86 27 7 3.86 31%
Interception 40 6 4 1.50 15%
Totals 571 195 50 3.90 34%

  • Florida State put in a remarkable defensive performance against a very good offense (24th in F/+ before the game). Clemson was only able to gain 3.9 yards per play before garbage time. The defense made Tajh Boyd look like the freshman and pretty much derailed any chance he had at competing for a Heisman trophy. Oh and they did it on the road in one of the most hostile environments in college football. Not bad. This was arguably the best performance this unit has had in the season thus far.
  • Clemson only gained 34% of their possible yards. The Noles have been doing this all season despite putting in some rough performances earlier in the season. The Tigers committed 4 turnovers, which greatly limited their ability to get their offense going. FSU's defensive line was getting great pressure all night and the secondary played a fantastic game. Lamarcus Joyner also got an interception and returned it for a decent mark when FSU only had 10 men on the field too.
  • Clemson's average starting field position was on their own 37 yard line. They however did not hold an advantage in hidden yards over FSU because they only had 9 non garbage drives while FSU had 10 and there was only a 3 yard difference, so FSU technically had a 7 yard advantage in hidden yards. That is an insignificant number that won't do much to help a team win a game.
  • FSU's best answer for poor special teams play is still to keep the punting team off the field. Cason Beatty only had to go on twice in non garbage drives, and I'll be honest, it was the most nervous I felt during the entire game when he had to punt from FSU's own 13 yard line. Beatty did a decent job at getting the ball back to midfield and the defense held on and forced Clemson to punt on their ensuing drive.
  • The big thing to take away from this is that when Clemson had excellent field position the Noles' defense did an excellent job at not letting them capitalize. To me, that might be one of the best parts about their performance. Clemson could have easily added another 6-14 points on those two drives but the defense was very stout when faced with adversity.
It's an understatement to say that we're all pretty happy with this result. NC State is up next at 3:30 on Saturday October 26th. We'll have another one of these articles out for you after the result of that game. Until then, Go Noles!
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