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Advanced box score: Florida State’s offense is now nation’s 2nd slowest

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Let’s review what happened against Duke.

Using Bill Connelly’s advanced stats from Football Study Hall, we can measure where the breakdown of the Florida State Seminoles vs. Duke game (Click to enlarge).

Florida State’s performance results in a 99% win expectancy

That is, teams that put together a stat profile like FSU did vs. Duke win about 99% of the time. That means this was a fairly solid performance, despite the score.

Florida State runs the second-slowest offense in college football

One reason the Seminoles struggled to score more points was that they only had the ball nine times. That is a tiny number. FSU had only one pass hit the ground, which keeps the clock running, and it ran the football 38 times. But it also takes far too long from snap-to-snap, which neuters the offense’s ability to score points.

Florida State now has the second-slowest offense in the nation, per adjusted pace. Yes, 129th.

Adjusted Pace takes into account both the number of plays a team attempts and the type of play. Since passes, on average, take up less time (thanks to the fact that 30-50 percent of them are incomplete and stop the clock), pass-heavy offenses are prone to run more plays, therefore limiting the effectiveness of a general plays-per-game measure. Adj. Pace takes a team's run-pass ratio into account. — Football Study Hall

Only UTEP, perhaps the worst team in the country, operates at a slower pace than the Seminoles.

The best way to protect a defense is with points, not possession. FSU is not UTEP. It has better players than almost every team it plays, and it should not be trying to shorten the game. This is a huge blindspot for Jimbo Fisher, who is strong in so many other areas. And it is not a one-year trend, either. FSU has been somewhere between very slow and downright plodding for four most of Fisher’s tenure.

When FSU slowed down, so did its success

FSU opened the game with an up-tempo drive for a touchdown. And even on the second drive, the Seminoles utilized some tempo. But after that, it was back to the typical slow approach.

FSU’s success rate by quarter:

  • 1st quarter: 76% (FSU was utilizing some tempo)
  • 2nd quarter: 22%
  • 3rd quarter: 43%
  • 4th quarter: 41`%

Maybe keep the pedal down?

A defense of FSU’s talent should shut down Duke more than FSU did

Duke’s offensive players are not very good, yet the Seminoles allowed 5 yards/play. There are some rather obvious reasons why. Duke averaged more than 30 yards/drive, which is not good by FSU’s defense.

FSU had terrible field position

Part of the reason FSU scored only 17 points is that its average starting field position was its own 18. That is really bad, and is a result of punts not being caught, and of the defense failing to get enough three-and-outs.

More than half FSU’s passing plays were successful

57% is the number for James Blackman, which includes sacks, and is quite strong. This was not an empty 18-21 effort.

Within that, Blackman was 12-12 on standard downs (1st down, or 2nd/3rd and manageable). But he was poor on passing downs, going 6-9, but with two interceptions and two sacks, one of which was his fault.

FSU allowed too many explosive plays on long downs by Duke

The Seminoles allowed just a 38% success rate on standard downs, which is OK. But a 1.54 IsoPP rating on passing downs means Duke hit far too many big plays in those situations, including the 57-yarder on third-and-17.