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How Does FSU’s Jimbo Fisher use his timeouts?

Carefully? Consistently? Effectively? We found out.

NCAA Football: Florida State at South Florida
Jimbo Fisher confers with QB Deondre Francois during a timeout.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

“Timeout, Florida State.”

An opportunity to draw up the perfect play or exploit a mismatch. A breather to break your opponent’s momentum. How does FSU utilize its TOs?

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher has called 30 timeouts in 8 FBS game so far in 2016 (no timeouts were called vs. Charleston Southern). How have they been utilized? Let’s take a look into the detailed breakdown of timeouts, and find out if their strategic use has paid off.

In 30 timeouts:

  • 22 were used by the offense
  • 6 were used by the defense
  • 2 were used by special teams (both to unsuccessfully ice NC State’s field goal kicker)

Let’s start with the offense’s 22 timeouts

Jimbo uses his offensive timeouts fairly evenly throughout the contests. Three in the first quarter, seven in the second quarter, five in the third quarter, and another seven in the fourth quarter. 10 in the first half, 12 in the second half.

The exact down used is slanted toward third down, with 11 (or half) used there. Three on first down, six on second down, and two on fourth down.

The average down-to-go is 9.14 yards (somewhat skewed by 4th & 32 to end the final-drive debacle vs. Clemson).

The average yards per play following a timeout? An impressive 9.32 yards. Keep in mind, FSU averages 6.39 yards per play for the entire season vs. FBS teams. On those 22 plays, the composition is six running plays and 16 pass attempts.

Francois is 13 for 16 (81.3%) for 188 yards, or 11.75 yards per attempt. These numbers are not skewed by any enormous completions, with the longest being 34 yards.

Of the 22 timeouts, the following play resulted in a first down or touchdown 14 times, or a 63.6% success rate.

Other outcomes after the timeout play include three drives ending in punts, one in a field goal, one turnover (against LOU), and one turnover on downs (CLEM).

Before the Clemson game, Fisher’s third and fourth down timeouts were dynamite, with a first down or touchdown on 8 of 9 attempts. (the lone failure led to a FG while up four scores vs. USF)

On to the defense’s six timeouts

It’s apparent that Jimbo retains sole duty of calling timeouts for both sides of ball. But unlike the offense, the defensive timeout usage is unbalanced. Jimbo hasn’t called timeout on D in either the first or third quarters, preferring to use three each in second and fourth quarter situations.

Unfortunately, the numbers for opponents’ offenses after an FSU defensive timeout look similar to the other side of ball.

With an average distance to go of 10.66, opponents net 9.83 yards per play. FSU gives up 6.26 yards per play for the entire season vs. FBS programs.

Five of six plays (83.3%) netted a first down or touchdown. Were you holding your breath on NC State’s 4th & 12 pass Saturday night? Well that’s warranted, since that’s the only time FSU has stopped the opponent after a defensive timeout all season.

This data is offered without comparison to other schools or seasons. But it gives ‘Nole fans an interesting glimpse into the personality of their team & head coach, with certain takeaways readily apparent. While it may frustrate fans to see Jimbo use a timeout and berate his offensive players and assistants, the results thereafter are overwhelmingly positive. Yet the same certainly cannot be said for the defense.

On that note, the author is taking a timeout (a full timeout, his first of the second half).

I Heart Cherry.
Mark Cunningham - Getty Images