Florida State lost to N.C. State 27-21 Saturday. It was a disappointing result, though FSU probably should have won the game based on how it was played, as evidenced by a 71-percent win expectancy. How often does a blocked punt and a fumble in a team’s own end zone via a bad snap not go for a touchdown either time?
Using Bill Connelly’s advanced stats from Football Study Hall, we can measure where the game went wrong.
Florida State played situations poorly.
- Passing downs are a situation in which N.C. State usually struggles (2nd and 7+, 3rd/4th and 5+), but FSU allowed the Wolfpack to convert them at a 38-percent clip, which is terrible. All five of N.C. State’s successful third-down conversions were of 6+ yards. There were numerous mental, technique, and discipline errors indicative of poor coaching, which should not be happening with the money FSU pays its assistants. A fifth-year senior should not be eye-violating on a pitch fake when he has the responsibility to play man coverage. Nor should a third-year safety be taking an awful angle on a give-up type screen.
- The lack of discipline was especially prevalent in the secondary. Consider that FSU successfully stopped 72% of N.C. State’s rushing plays, which is strong, but that N.C. State still had runs of 12, 30, 15, and 17 yards.
- FSU scored just 3.4 points/scoring opportunity (defined as a first down inside the opponent’s 40-yard line), which is terrible, while N.C. State got 5.4, which is good.
- FSU did not have a rush longer than 16 yards.
Even with all that, Florida State would likely have won the game had the circumstances occurred again. But FSU didn’t recover either of the fumbles, which is luck, nor did it return the punt for a score. But FSU did not do enough to guarantee victory, and when a team fails to do enough, and it doesn’t get the bounces (or calls, as many went against them), it can end up losing.