The Florida State Seminoles lost this weekend to Florida, 41-14.
FSU had a post-game win expectancy of zero (0) percent. That is a number which takes into account all of the factors, and compares it against thousands of games, finding ones with similar performances and looks at the outcomes.
The eye test said that FSU could not match up physically with Florida’s defensive line, and the stats back it up. Florida destroyed FSU’s terrible undermanned offensive line up front.
The Gators basically copied the game plan from Notre Dame, and the results were exactly the same.
Florida played an extremely conservative game plan, knowing that Florida State, due to its offensive line, is incapable of sustaining drives. The only way FSU can score is via the explosive play. FSU was literally a top-20 team in explosiveness and a bottom-5 team in efficiency entering the game.
So Florida repeatedly lined up in looks that a decent team would punish via the run game. It played both safeties more than 10 yards off the football, and all of the receivers were covered. It knew FSU would not be able to throw well against this look.
This defensive strategy is designed to take away the pass.
It should, in theory, struggle mightily against the run. Any decent offense will see there are not enough defenders to stop the run. This is a look at should be run on repeatedly for five, six, seven yards a pop.
But FSU could not. And that is because Florida’s defensive front physically whipped FSU’s offensive line despite being repeatedly outnumbered at the point of attack.
Florida State managed a 44% success rate running the football, which is slightly above the national average. But it is quite poor against the looks the Gators presented. Florida was very happy to give up that relative success in exchange for not allowing big plays. And the Gators allowed an IsoPPP of just 1.02 on standard downs, which is exactly what the plan intends.
Florida State failed to gain 10 yards on eight of its first 10 drives.
Coming into the game, I thought that the only shot FSU had to win would be if Florida blitzed, as defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is fond of (perhaps too fond at times). But it was not necessary, he held off, and FSU never had a chance.
When this happens, an offense is absolutely dead in the water. This is boring to write each week, but it is no less true.
Let’s go over the five factors from Bill Connelly.
Efficiency edge: Florida (significant)
Florida had an efficiency edge of 45 percent to 33 percent in success rate.
As I explained above, FSU’s success rate of 44 percent rushing the football seems good, but in context, it’s not, because UF was perfectly happy to give that up in exchange for taking away the pass and not allowing big plays.
And take away the pass UF did, allowing just a 23 percent success rate. Deondre Francois is just 150-306 now all-time against ranked teams, a huge sample set which helps to highlight his accuracy issues.
Florida State was absolutely dead in the water on passing downs, achieving just a 10 percent success rate. Deondre Francois was just 1-9 on those downs, for three yards, and five sacks.
FSU had no chance to hold up in pass protection. It showed.
On the other side of the ball, Florida State knew that UF was just about an all-success rate team, with very little explosion. The plan needed to be to get Florida to passing downs by limiting their early-downs success rate, daring them to hit explosive plays.
That did not happen, as Florida had a 47 percent success rate on those downs.
Explosiveness edge: Florida (medium)
Florida had an IsoPPP of 1.39 to FSU’s 1.15.
The key here, though, is that for FSU to win this game, it would need to win the explosiveness margin by a lot. With Florida holding the edge in this category, it’s game over.
Turnovers (and turnover luck) edge: Florida (large)
Florida State had three turnovers. UF had none. The expected turnover margin was actually even, meaning Florida got the bounces in terms of fumbles recovered and passes defended.
In all, Florida had 14.8 points of turnover luck. Which suggests that with neutral turnover luck, Florida wins this game by two scores, not four. It still wouldn’t have been a win, but would likely have been closer.
Field position edge: Florida (huge)
Before garbage time, FSU started at its own 18.7 and UF at its own 35.0. Over 15 drives, that comes out to an incredible 244.5 yards of field position edge for the Gators.
Finishing drives edge: Even
Florida scored 4.56 points/opportunity (drives inside the opponent 40), while FSU had 4.67.
So that was not a key difference in the game.
What was, however, was that UF had nine scoring opportunities, and Florida State had three.
Any questions? Just ask.