The Florida State Seminoles got the win this weekend at Louisville.
Using Bill Connelly’s advanced stats from Football Study Hall, we can measure where the game was truly won.
Why was FSU’s win expectancy was 70 percent, a number which indicates that FSU outplayed, but did not dominate Louisville. The idea that FSU should have lost the game is nonsense. It’s a statement which focuses solely on the final break that went FSU’s way while ignoring all the breaks Louisville got throughout the game.
Louisville had a success rate of 40 percent compared to 35 percent for Florida State. This matches what we saw in the game. On a down-to-down basis, Louisville had slightly more of its plays considered as a success.
Florida State had a yards/play of 6.4, which was considerably higher than Louisville’s 5.1. The total yards stats for the game show Louisville with more yards, but that is because the Cards had 25 more plays than FSU (27 if you take out FSU’s kneeldowns).
Reading into the run game
Florida State’s running backs had a success rate of 33 percent (7 for 21). Part of that is due to FSU’s offensive line not getting much push. And part of it is due to the quarterback making the incorrect read, or sometimes even reading the wrong defender, and thus dooming the play. And some of it is running back comfort in the system.
But more concerning is the lack of explosion. FSU is completely unable to hit long runs right now with its running backs. And most of that is on the offensive line.
FSU’s backs ran for 8, 7, 5, 7, 7, 4, 2, 3, 3, 0, -1, 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, -2, 3, -3, 0, and -1. In practice, their first-down runs were setting up semi-manageable second downs, which is huge for this offense.
But there’s no explosion with it. I’m not sure if there is reason to expect much better with this offensive line and a QB who won’t run.
The passing game provides the explosion
FSU’s success rate on passing plays really was not much better (40 percent or so) than its success rate rushing.
But FSU hit some really explosive plays in the passing game: 25, 28, 55, and 58 yards. Four pass plays were 45 percent of FSU’s total yards and 660 percent of FSU’s passing output.
It seems FSU’s commitment to the run (32 pass plays, 24 runs) as opposed to going all-in on the pass is helping the Seminoles when it comes to the play-action game.
Louisville had 24 points on eight opportunities, while FSU had 28 on four. That’s a big advantage for FSU, more than doubling Louisville.
Recovering fumbles is luck. There were six fumbles in this game and Louisville recovered five of them.