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Florida State v. Pitt: The hidden yardage story

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An often overlooked stat, "hidden yards" are a big reason why a team can win or lose a game.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Special teams play and what are called "hidden yards" are very important in determining the outcome of a game. The team that on average has better field position than the opponent has a much better shot at victory. We at TN have always highlighted the importance of hidden yards, so we'll take a look at them in Pitt game.

The best way to determine who won the hidden yards battle is best seen by average starting field position. Garbage time was not included in the charts. Also note that the total yards gained does not reflect yards made up for penalties.

Florida State Offense
Result Possible Gained Plays Per Play % Gained
Punt 86 41 5 8.2 48%
TOUCHDOWN 24 24 2 12 100%
TOUCHDOWN 81 81 8 10.1 100%
TOUCHDOWN 78 78 14 5.6 100%
TOUCHDOWN 41 41 3 13.7 100%
FIELD GOAL 74 70 7 10 95%
FIELD GOAL 75 64 8 8 85%
TOUCHDOWN 49 49 9 5.4 100%
Totals 508 448 56 8 88%
  • So FSU's offense was, um, incredible last night. Jameis Winston and co absolutely shredded this defense. The Noles average starting field position was at their own 37-yard line in non garbage time drives (own 31 yard line with all drives accounted for). That's great starting field position, this was mostly due to turnovers flipping the field and a good punt return by Kenny Shaw.
  • The major stat that jumps out at me is that they gained 88% of all possible yards before garbage time drives. The Noles didn't need to win the hidden yardage battle because they scored on 7-8 of their non-garbage time drives. That is absolutely astounding. FSU also never went 3-and-out, and had four "explosive drives" (drives with at least 10 yards per play).
FSU's Defense Vs. Pitt
Result Possible Gained Plays Per Play % Gained
TOUCHDOWN 80 80 9 8.9 100%
INTERCEPTION 91 29 6 4.8 32%
Punt 75 3 3 1 4%
FIELD GOAL 80 69 11 6.3 86%
INTERCEPTION 80 3 2 0.67 4%
End of Half 64 9 2 4.5 14%
FIELD GOAL 74 52 10 5.2 70%
Punt 77 -2 3 -0.67 0%
Totals 621 243 46 5.3 39%
  • Pitt never started a drive in FSU territory.
  • Pitt's average starting field position was at their own 22 yard line in non-garbage time . What could this be attributed to? Cason Beatty only had two punts the whole night, and only one was during non-garbage time, however he did pin them on their own 9 on that punt. This could mostly be attributed to Roberto Aguayo doing an acceptable job on kickoffs, although it did seem like the coverage unit took a bit longer than normal to get down field. They did do a good job at not letting Pitt's returners break off huge returns.
  • Another interesting stat here is with the percentage of possible yards gained. Pitt was only able to gain 39% of their possible yards. This is a huge contrast from FSU gaining 88% of their possible yards. This could mean that the defense actually played a bit better than we seem to be perceiving the performance. Don't get me wrong though, this defense has a lot of kinks they need to work out before they can be elite.
  • The difference in starting field position gave FSU a 113 yard advantage in the "hidden yards" category. Or, put another way, Florida State's starting field position was, on average, about 14 yards better than Pitt's. That's a pretty sizeable difference. This was largely due to FSU being able to capitalize on the 2 interceptions they forced as they were able to score on those drives after the turnovers.

The hidden yardage battle was important in this game, as it is every game. I'll continue to track the hidden yards for Florida State throughout the year, so that we can compare game to game, and the 2013 season to previous years. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some cheeseballs.