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Advanced Analytics: Florida State vs. Miami

What do the numbers tell us about the Seminoles and Hurricanes?

Jarad Moon #54

Florida State Seminoles football travels to Miami Gardens to take on bitter rivals, the Miami Hurricanes in Hard Rock Stadium.

In our advanced stats preview we will be examining how each team has done so far this season. It should be noted that these numbers are the results of small sample sizes thus far (2 games for Miami vs 1 game for Florida State). As a result one or two plays can skew a team’s numbers, which we will note in this preview.

As always we will be acquiring data from, courtesy of @CFB_data, using the cfbscrapR package, created by Meyappan Subbaiah (@msubbaiah1), Tomahawk Nation contributor Saiem Gilani (@SaiemGilani) and Parker Fleming (@statsowar).

First up we will look at the offense. According to SP+, Bill Connely’s metric for gauging efficiency, Miami’s offense sits at a rating of 29.8, which is good for 39th in the nation (Out of 91 teams currently included in his rankings). This is slightly better than Florida State’s offense, which sits at 27.3, good for 48th in the nation.

This may come as a surprise to people, as Miami’s offense has put up 31 and 47 points against UAB and Louisville, respectively. So why the discrepancy between points scored and SP+? We need to look deeper in order to find our answer.

One possible answer to our question is success rate. If you need a quick refresher, a play is “successful” if it hits the following criteria:

  • 1st down: gain 40% of yards to go
  • 2nd down: gain 60% of yards to go
  • 3rd-4th down: gain 100% of yards to go

According to the table, Miami has an overall success rate of 37%, which isn’t very successful.

They have struggled in early down play (1st-2nd down), but have been able to convert on late downs (3rd-4th down) at a higher clip, which should be a point of emphasis for the Noles defense this week.

In their lone game Florida State showed a level of consistently based on success rate, but the numbers overall are not very good.

Another possible answer to our question of Miami’s low offense SP+ rating vs their points scored is what they have done outside of select explosive plays.

So far this season Miami has had a 4th and 1 go for a 66 yard touchdown vs UAB, and 2 busted coverage touchdowns vs Louisville. This can certainly boost the overall season statistics 2 games into the season, and it might be worth a look at a trimmed version of these statistics.

If you trim Miami’s EPA/Play (take out 5 highest and 5 lowest plays according to EPA), Miami’s overall EPA/Play drops to 0.09. The biggest hit comes in the passing game, where their EPA/Pass drops from 0.35 to 0.11, which is a sizable drop. We certainly cannot pretend these plays didn’t exist, and Miami will surely capitalize on the situation again if it presents itself, but it is something to keep in mind.

Regardless of the big plays the biggest difference between Miami and Florida State’s offense so far this season is still in the passing game. D’eriq King has given the Miami offense life in the passing game, which is evidenced by the 0.35 expected points added (EPA) per pass. On the other side James Blackman did not get off to a great start to the season, with an almost mirror opposite -0.33 EPA/Pass.

The final point on Miami’s offense is something Noles fans can relate to: a struggling offensive line in the run game. Miami’s OL yards sit at a very disappointing 2.58 yards/play, and 20% of Miami’s rushes have been stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

Transitioning over to defense, Miami’s defensive SP+ rating clocks in at 17.3, which is good for 17th in the nation. Florida State’s defensive rating at 24.5 is 40th in the nation, which is a sizable distance from Miami.

The staple of Miami’s defense is their passing defense at -0.01 EPA/Pass. The biggest differential between Miami and Florida State’s defenses resides within success rate.

Offenses against Miami have only had a 30% success rate against Miami’s defense, while Georgia Tech was successful on almost half of their plays ran against Florida State. Miami is 16th in the nation when it comes to havoc rate, which looks at tackles for loss, passes defended or intercepted, and forced fumbles. Miami has made a name for itself around college football for their turnover chain and aggressive defense, meaning ball security is vital for the Noles offense.

If you liked this post and would like to see more graphs and stats, stay posted for more articles and in the meantime, you can follow my Noles Analytics twitter account at ScalpRNoles.