Well, that was an unpleasant way to start the Florida State Seminoles football season. Chin up, sports fans, we gotta review the numbers and see where things went right and wrong, so we can complain with quantitative accuracy throughout the bye week. Today’s charts were made using the cfbscrapR package, created by myself, Saiem Gilani (@SaiemGilani), Meyappan Subbaiah (@msubbaiah1), and Parker Fleming (@statsowar). The package is made possible by CollegeFootballData.com, courtesy of @CFB_data, and we are grateful for such a valuable resource. For those who would like a refresher, here is the drive chart from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets game.
*The drive arrows without result labels are non-scoring drives which ended in punts.
In the first half, the Seminoles managed two turnovers, blocked two field goal attempts and closed the half with a missed 46-yard field goal attempt by Parker Grothaus. After an empty opening drive by the ‘Noles, the Yellow Jackets rattled off consecutive touchdown drives, scoring on three of their four second-half drives.
Win Probability chart (annotated)
The Noles closed the first half with an expected win probability of 94.4%, even after the missed kick.
Overall, FSU had a subpar day on the offensive side of the field. In total, James Blackman contributed to the tune of -15.02 Total EPA** (Expected Points Added) on the day from passing, taking three sacks and throwing one interception while throwing for 198 yards on 43 attempts at a 53% clip. In comparison, true freshman Jeff Sims managed to contribute 1.81 EPA on the day through the air, completing 66% of his attempts to the tune of 277 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on the day. Do not let these outrageous numbers fool you, this is not a failure on Blackman alone, nor would I even put most of this on him.
** Note that for the purposes of this article, I have ‘double counted’ EPA for passing plays because we do not presently have an adequate method of splitting the EPA on passing plays between the receiver and quarterback due to a lack of publicly available air yards data necessary for the existing methods.
Let us take a look at the receivers he targeted and how efficient they were with their targets.
With 12 targets, Tamorrion Terry managed just 52 yards on 6 catches for a net of -0.00 Expected Points Added from the returning senior with NFL aspirations. Warren Thompson was targeted 6 times, caught one for 24 yards and netting the team -4.73 Total EPA. The only two receivers to actually break significantly into the positive with volume were not receivers at all, with Camren McDonald earning himself 5 targets, 4 catches for 41 yards. The star in the passing game was Jashaun Corbin, grabbing 8 of his 9 targets for 55 yards and adding the most expected points of the Florida State receivers with 4.54 Total EPA.
As a point of comparison, two Georgia Tech receivers Jalen Camp was the Yellow Jackets leader in Total EPA with 4.82 EPA, catching 83% of his targets for 57 yards. The only receiver for Tech to hit pay dirt was Malachi Carter early in the 4th quarter for the tying score and his Total EPA for the game was 4.56 off 66 yards and 6 catches.
You might be wondering, how did a player that had 6 rushes for 18 yards earn more expected points than a player on the same team with 6 rushes for 39 yards. The difference between the two performances lies in the leverage of the situation. Jashaun Corbin converted three first downs in late down situations, including two 4th-and-1 situations, netting him 5.66 EPA from those three plays alone... but the other three rushes placed his Total EPA on the day at 4.62.
Jeff Sims was the most effective rusher for the Yellow Jackets, gaining 54 yards on 12 carries and Jordan Mason adequate on the day, gaining 56 yards on 15 rushes for a positive EPA.
All in all, not a stellar performance from the receiver group, the starting quarterback and most of the running back group. It is mildly encouraging that Blackman only took three sacks on the day and the ‘Noles were able to convert in some short yardage situations. The special teams performance is worthy of review, but I will simply add that both of the field goal blocks netted close to 25% win probability added in total.