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Advanced Analytics: FSU vs. Louisville

Diving into the digits to break down the Seminoles vs. the Cardinals

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Louisville at Florida State Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After coming off an electric win over a top 5 opponent at home, Florida State Seminoles football will look to carry the momentum as they take on Louisville Cardinals at 12:00 p.m. Saturday in Cardinal Stadium in Louisville.

After completing a gauntlet of elite defenses, the Florida State offense will get the chance unleash their new look offense against a lower ranked defense. In this advanced stats preview we will be diving into the numbers of both teams, to see what each team has done this season and what we could expect coming into the contest on Saturday.

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).

According to SP+, (Bill Connely’s metric for gauging efficiency), the Florida State offensive has a SP+ rating of 29.3, which is good for 56th in the nation (Note: this is out of 127 teams). On the other side Louisville has a higher rating of 36.7, which is good for 15th in the nation. So why the sizable gap in SP+ rating? Lets dive into Expected Points Added (EPA) to see if we can understand the difference.

The Florida State offense overall still has a negative overall EPA/Play largely due in part to the passing game. The passing offense is trending upwards due to the play of new Florida State starter Jordan Travis, which we will dive into more in depth later.

The running game remains the staple of the Florida State offense, averaging an efficient 0.16 EPA/Rush. In terms of success rate FSU remains relatively consistent across downs, but a success rate in the 40% range is not amazing. Success rate dips into the later downs, which can be due in part to how far FSU typically is from the first down marker. On average FSU’s late down yards to go is 7.3, which is a sizable number to consistently gain.

For Louisville their offense is a little more balanced among passing and rushing efficiency. In terms of EPA 0.03 EPA/Play is not wildly efficient, and neither is a 38.9% overall success rate. The real difference in offenses comes from explosiveness, which is the EPA/Play on successful plays.

An explosiveness of 1.52 tells us that when Louisville is successful, it tends to be in bigger chunk plays. It will be vital for the FSU defense to limit the overall explosiveness of the Louisville offense, which has more qualities of a boom or bust offense than a consistently efficient machine.

The two signal callers in this game, Jordan Travis and Malik Cunningham, have been relatively successful so far this season.

For Travis, he has averaged 0.16 EPA/Play on passes and rushes, with a success rate of 47.5%. When you compare him to the rest of the ACC, you can see he is one of the more efficient players at the QB position.

Cunningham has averaged 0.12 EPA/Play, but only a success rate of 39.9%. Like the Louisville offense in general, they overall do not see much success, but when they do it comes in the form of explosive plays.

Both QB’s are similar in that their main avenue of efficiency comes from the running game. For Travis, he has accumulated a total 3.66 EPA through the air, and 15.90 EPA from his runs. Cunningham’s total passing EPA comes in at 5.3, and 19.04 EPA on the ground.

In what seems like a first for FSU in a couple weeks they have the edge in defensive SP+. FSU’s defensive rating of 28.3 comes in at 71st in the nation, while Louisville’s rating of 31.9 comes in at 92nd in the nation.

For Florida State they still have not been able to handle opposing pass offenses, allowing 0.207 EPA/Pass. In terms of success rate FSU has allowed a successful play on essentially half of all plays, but there is a major improvement coming from the Florida State defense on late downs:

As you can see from the table, and from my previous articles, the Florida State late down defense was a major red flag for the team earlier in the season. This facet of the defense has been improving each week, and was a major part in Florida State’s upset win over No.5 North Carolina.

For Louisville they have seen defensive success in stopping the run, allowing essentially 0 EPA/Rush. Offenses have been able to pass on the Cardinals to the tune of 0.14 EPA/Pass. Overall the Cardinals have allowed a success rate of 37.4%. The main weak spot in the defense (which will sound familiar to Nole fans) is late down defense. The Cardinals success rate allowed balloons up to 47.4%. For the Seminole offense it will be vital to continue moving the chains on late downs in order to keep the offense on the field, while keeping the potentially explosive Cardinal offense off the field.

If you liked this post and would like to see more graphs and stats, you can follow my Noles Analytics twitter account at ScalpRNoles