Sacks aren't ending FSU's drives like they used to

Sam Greenwood

Mathematically, a sack is a pass play where the QB is tackled behind the line of scrimmage (unless you're the NCAA, in which case you record it as a negative running play).

NFL great and terrifying defensive end David "Deacon" Jones - who passed away earlier this year - is credited with coining the phrase "sacking the quarterback." He described the splash play's effect as putting "all the offensive players in one bag and I just take a baseball bat and beat on the bag." Amen.

And while modern defensive thinking points toward putting less emphasis on sack totals than pressuring the ball carrier, it's still an offensive failure. Minimizing the number of sacks allowed sounds like a good tenet for a successful offense.

But as long as this is a Jimbo Fisher offense, don't expect FSU to lead the nation in fewest sacks allowed. Jimbo gives his QB liberty to check into a pass pre-snap and the training to make his reads. The trade-off for increased exposure to pressure and potential sacks is the opportunity for an explosive and efficient offense through the air.

Sacks generally put you in passing downs. Passing downs include down-and-distances of 2nd-and-8+, 3rd-and-5+, and 4th-and-5+. Passing downs are more difficult for an offense to succeed on than standard downs. The down-and-distance is such that an offense will need to pass to continue the drive — and the defense knows that. The potential for sacks ending drives is great, especially when they occur on 3rd downs.

How has FSU done on drives where they're sacked? First downs and scores are harder to get if your offense is in reverse. But are sacks ending FSU drives?

In short, they did in 2012 under EJ Manuel. But not nearly as much under Jameis Winston in 2013.

Let's look at the game logs from 2012 and 2013 where FSU's starting QB was sacked and those drives' results.

2012 Sacks

vs Wake
1st and 10 at FSU 10 EJ Manuel sacked by Merrill Noel for a loss of 2 yards to the FlaSt 8.
2nd and 12 at FSU 8 EJ Manuel pass complete to Rashad Greene for 21 yards to the FlaSt 29 for a 1ST down.

EJ recovers the drive by hitting Greene for a big-gainer, even though the drive would later end in a punt.

1st and 10 at FSU 45 EJ Manuel sacked by Kris Redding for a loss of 2 yards, fumbled, forced by Kris Redding, recovered by WFrst Tylor Harris at the FlaSt 43.

Drive stalls - to say the least.

1st and 10 at FSU 42 EJ Manuel sacked by Kris Redding for a loss of 5 yards to the FlaSt 37.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs CU
1st and 10 at CLEM 40 EJ Manuel sacked by Bashaud Breeland for a loss of 10 yards to the 50 yard line.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs USF
1st and 10 at FSU 36 EJ Manuel sacked by Cory Grissom for a loss of 10 yards to the FlaSt 26.1st and 10 at FSU 36
2nd and 20 at FSU 26 Chris Thompson rush for 10 yards to the FlaSt 36.
3rd and 10 at FSU 36 FLORIDA ST penalty 5 yard False Start on Cameron Erving accepted.
3rd and 15 at FSU 31 EJ Manuel sacked by Elkino Watson for a loss of 10 yards to the FlaSt 21.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs NCSU
3rd and 2 at NCST 19 EJ Manuel sacked by Dontae Johnson for a loss of 15 yards to the NCSt 34.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs BC
3rd and 4 at FSU 39 EJ Manuel sacked by Malachi Moore for a loss of 6 yards to the FlaSt 33.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs UM

1st and 10 at FSU 45 EJ Manuel sacked by Brandon McGee for a loss of 8 yards to the FlaSt 37.

Drive stalls. Punts.

3rd and 7 at FSU 33 EJ Manuel sacked by Tyriq McCord for a loss of 5 yards to the FlaSt 28.

Drive stalls. Punts.

vs VT
2nd and 8 at VT 25 EJ Manuel sacked by Bruce Taylor for a loss of 9 yards to the VTech 34.

Drive stalls. Leads to a FG.

3rd and 10 at VT 22 EJ Manuel sacked by Bruce Taylor and Kyshoen Jarrett for a loss of 6 yards to the VTech 28.

Drive stalls. Leads to a FG.

3rd and 15 at FSU 21 EJ Manuel sacked by Corey Marshall for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 10.

Drive stalls. Punts.

3rd and 3 at VT 48 EJ Manuel sacked by Dadi Nicolas for a loss of 8 yards to the FlaSt 44.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

2nd and 10 at FSU 20 EJ Manuel sacked by James Gayle for a loss of 10 yards to the FlaSt 10.

Drive stalls. Led to a safety.

vs Maryland
1st and 10 at FSU 24 EJ Manuel sacked by Kenneth Tate for a loss of 2 yards to the FlaSt 22.
2nd and 12 at FSU 22 James Wilder Jr. rush for 4 yards to the FlaSt 26.
3rd and 8 at FSU 26 EJ Manuel sacked by Kenneth Tate for a loss of 1 yard to the FlaSt 25.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

1st and 10 at FSU 30 EJ Manuel sacked by Kenneth Tate for a loss of 8 yards to the FlaSt 22.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

vs UF
1st and 10 at FSU 42 EJ Manuel sacked by Antonio Morrison and Lerentee McCray, fumbled, recovered by Fla Dominique Easley at the FlaSt 38, Dominique Easley for 1 yard, to the FlaSt 37.

Drive stalls. Turnover.

2nd and 10 at FLA 28 EJ Manuel sacked by Sharrif Floyd for a loss of 16 yards to the Fla 44.

Drive stalls. led to TO on downs

vs GT
2nd and 6 at FSU 29 EJ Manuel sacked by Jeremiah Attaochu for a loss of 3 yards to the FlaSt 26.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

2nd and 15 at GT 48 EJ Manuel sacked by Jeremiah Attaochu for a loss of 10 yards to the FlaSt 42.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

3rd and 10 at GT 25 EJ Manuel sacked by Emmanuel Dieke for a loss of 5 yards, fumbled, recovered by GTech Emmanuel Dieke at the GTech 30.

Drive stalls. Turnover.


Quick takeaways:

  • 20 out of 21 drives in which Manuel was sacked stalled (1.4 per game).
  • 3 of the drive-ending sacks resulted in a lost fumble.
  • Only 1 drive under EJ recovered from a sack.
  • FSU scored 0 points on the one recovered drive.
  • FSU scored 6 points on the 20 stalled drives.


2013 Sacks

vs Pitt
2nd and 2 at PITT 32 Jameis Winston sacked by Aaron Donald for a loss of 7 yards to the Pitt 39.
3rd and 9 at PITT 39 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kelvin Benjamin for 19 yards to the Pitt 20 for a 1ST down.

Drive recovered. Led to TD.

3rd and Goal at PITT 6 Jameis Winston sacked by Nicholas Grigsby for a loss of 2 yards to the Pitt 8.

Drive stalls. Led to FG.

vs Nevada
1st and 10 at FSU 26 Jameis Winston sacked by Lenny Jones for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 15.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

vs BC
3rd and 10 at FSU 25 Jameis Winston sacked by Kaleb Ramsey for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 14.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

2nd and 9 at FSU 21 Jameis Winston sacked by Mehdi Abdesmad for a loss of 2 yards to the FlaSt 19.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

1st and 10 at FSU 40 Jameis Winston sacked by Kasim Edebali for a loss of 9 yards to the FlaSt 31.
2nd and 19 at FSU 31 Devonta Freeman rush for 14 yards to the FlaSt 45.
3rd and 5 at FSU 45 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kenny Shaw for 55 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

Drive recovered. Sets up the big-time "hail mary" pass for a TD.

3rd and 8 at FSU 48 Jameis Winston sacked by Kasim Edebali for a loss of 7 yards to the FlaSt 41.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

vs Maryland
3rd and 9 at FSU 34 Jameis Winston sacked by Andre Monroe for a loss of 9 yards to the FlaSt 25.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

vs Clemson
1st and 10 at CLEM 25 Jameis Winston sacked by Stephone Anthony for a loss of 10 yards to the Clem 35.
2nd and 20 at CLEM 35 FLORIDA ST penalty 10 yard Holding on Josue Matias accepted.
2nd and 30 at CLEM 45 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kenny Shaw for 20 yards to the Clem 25.
3rd and 10 at CLEM 25 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kenny Shaw for 19 yards to the Clem 6 for a 1ST down.

The old "gives 'em plenty of room to work with!" drive recovery. Drive culminates with a FG.

1st and 20 at FSU 48 Jameis Winston sacked by D.J. Reader for a loss of 8 yards to the FlaSt 40.
2nd and 28 at FSU 40 Jameis Winston sacked by Corey Crawford for a loss of 5 yards to the FlaSt 35.

Drive stalls. Led to a punt.

vs NCSU
1st and 10 at NCST 44 Jameis Winston sacked by Robert Caldwell for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 45.

Drive stalls. Led to a punt.

vs UM
2nd and 4 at FSU 37 Jameis Winston sacked by A.J. Highsmith for a loss of 4 yards to the FlaSt 33.
3rd and 8 at FSU 33 Jameis Winston pass complete to Rashad Greene for 13 yards to the FlaSt 46 for a 1ST down.

Drive recovered. Led to FG 8 plays later.

vs. Wake
2nd and 10 at WAKE 28 Jameis Winston sacked by Nikita Whitlock for a loss of 3 yards to the WFrst 31.

Drive stalls. Results in a missed FG.

vs Syracuse
1st and 10 at SYR 39 Jameis Winston sacked by Isaiah Johnson for a loss of 5 yards to the Syrac 44.
2nd and 15 at SYR 44 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kenny Shaw for 20 yards to the Syrac 24 for a 1ST down.

Drive recovered. TD 2 plays later.

1st and 10 at SYR 39 Jameis Winston sacked by Jay Bromley for a loss of 7 yards to the Syrac 46.

Drive stalls. Led to FG

1st and 10 at FSU 50 Jameis Winston sacked by Dyshawn Davis for a loss of 9 yards to the FlaSt 41.

Drive stalls. Led to punt.

vs Idaho
1st and 10 at IDHO 48 Jameis Winston sacked by Roman Runner for a loss of 3 yards to the FlaSt 49.
2nd and 13 at FSU 49 Jameis Winston pass complete to Devonta Freeman for 6 yards to the Idaho 45.
3rd and 7 at IDHO 45 Jameis Winston pass complete to Rashad Greene for 13 yards to the Idaho 32 for a 1ST down.

Drive recovered. 32-yd TD to KB the next play.

1st and 10 at IDHO 32 Jameis Winston sacked by QuayShawne Buckley for a loss of 8 yards, fumbled, forced by QuayShawne Buckley, recovered by Idaho Bradley Njoku at the Idaho 40.

Drive stalls. Turnover.

2nd and 10 at FSU 42 Jameis Winston sacked by Vince Keener and Anthony Rice for a loss of 8 yards to the FlaSt 34.

Drive stalls. Led to punt. Up 35-0.

vs UF
3rd and 5 at FLA 25 Jameis Winston sacked by Neiron Ball for a loss of 7 yards to the Fla 32.

Drive stalls. Led to FG.

2nd and 10 at FSU 31 Jameis Winston sacked by Bryan Cox Jr. for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 20.
3rd and 21 at FSU 20 FLORIDA ST penalty 5 yard Delay of Game on Jameis Winston accepted.
3rd and 26 at FSU 15 Jameis Winston pass complete to Kenny Shaw for 27 yards to the FlaSt 42 for a 1ST down.

Drive recovered. Led to 45-yd TD to KB 2 plays later.

Quick takeaways:

  • 14 out of 21 drives in which Jameis was sacked stalled (1.2 per game).
  • 1 of the drive-ending sacks resulted in a lost fumble.
  • Out of 21 drives where Jameis was sacked, seven drives recovered.
  • FSU scored 41 points (5 TDs, 2 FGs) on those 7 recovered drives.
  • FSU scored 9 points (3 FGs) on the 14 stalled drives.

Sacks aren’t ending FSU’s drives this year like they did last year. 67% of drives where Jameis was sacked ended up stalling. 95% of drives where EJ was sacked ended up stalling. The difference is even more remarkable when you consider that Jameis has been sacked more often this year than EJ was last year (6.5% vs. 5.8% adjusted sack rate).

Also, the difference from last year in scoring on drives in which a sack occurred is glaring.

In 2012, FSU scored 2.74 points per drive (24th nationally) but only 4 points (2 FGs and 1 safety) on 21 drives in which EJ was sacked (0.19 points per drive). 0.19 points per drive is not even close to #124 UMass' 1.02 ppd.

In 2013, FSU is scoring an NCAA-leading 4.43 points per drive, the highest since Brian Fremeau began recording the statistic in 2007. On the 21 drives where Jameis has been sacked, FSU has scored 50 points on 21 drives (2.38 points per drive). 2.38 points per drive by itself would be good enough for a national ranking of 48th and 0.01 ppd behind 47th-ranked Georgia Tech.

The 2012 FSU offense was 23rd in the country on passing downs, which is not too shabby. But the 2013 offense? Tops in the nation on passing downs. Heck, they’re #1 on standard downs, too. This is one of the most dynamic college offenses in history. And not even sacks are holding this offense down.

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