Through six games, Florida State’s offense has been surprisingly efficient. Everett Golson is playing turnover free, the receiving corps is finally shaping up and Dalvin Cook is on pace for a Heisman-type season.
However, looking at the plain statistics shows a different tale. Offensively, Florida State is ranked 38th in the country with 445 yards per game, 44th with 253.7 passing yards per game, and 43rd with 191.7 rushing yards per game. The problem with this is that Florida State runs at a slower pace than many of the teams above them. Jimbo Fisher consistently runs one of the slowest offenses in college football and Florida State averages about 50 or so plays a game, way lower than the TCU and Baylor at the top of the offensive chart that run close to 90 plays a game.
There are several better ways to determine offensive performance. One way is to look at Bill Connelly’s advance statistics at SBNation. Using the S&P+ rankings (which takes into account offensive efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers), Florida State is ranked 13th in the country. The Seminoles also have the #1 ranked running game using the same metric and Dalvin Cook is leading the nation with 11.9 highlight yards per opportunity (the portion of the run that is given solely to the running back once the offensive line has done their job). Jimbo Fisher is finally finding a role for Kermit Whitfield, the former track star, and the 5’8″ receiver is averaging 12.0 yards per target and is currently FSU’s leading receiver.
Another way to look at offensive performance is to compare the statistics for individual games against average performance. Below is a chart that shows Florida State’s offensive performance in each of their six games and the average performance given up by the individual defenses on each of those teams over six games.
From the chart, we can see that Florida State is consistently performing on an above average rate compared to the average performance given up by the six individual defenses. The outliers lie here and there amongst the data. Florida State had a terrible day through the air against USF and threw foe almost a hundred less yards than the Bulls were giving up. They only had 127 yards rushing versus Wake Forest, but part of that can be blamed on Dalvin Cook’s hamstring injury. Boston College was Florida State’s worst performance offensively, and the ‘Noles had less passing yards and yards per attempt than Boston College has given up on average.
On the flip side, Florida State’s offense has had a remarkable turnaround these past two weeks against Miami and Louisville. After averaging 3.8 yards per play against Boston College and 6.32 against Wake Forest, Florida State had 7.81 against Miami and 7.18 against Louisville. They almost doubled their total first downs in the same time period (29 versus Boston College and Miami as compared to 49 versus Miami and Louisville). Everett Golson has also been playing very well these past two weeks, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt versus Miami and 9.2 against Louisville.
So what’s the cause for this sudden offensive turnaround these past two weeks? Well for one, Dalvin Cook is playing at a phenomenal rate. Despite missing time due to his nagging hamstring injury, Cook is still 5th in the nation in rushing yards and is averaging over eight yards per carry. Everett Golson is also playing the best football of his career under Jimbo Fisher and is six games in without committing a turnover (knock on wood). The offensive line seems to have finally solidified and Kareem Are’s injury has opened up more playing time for Chad Mavety. If Are can return healthy, getting Mavety these snaps will be huge as he’ll likely be the sixth man up at any position on the offensive line moving forward.
Florida State faces Georgia Tech next week in a game that was highly anticipated in the preseason. Now? Not so much. Georgia Tech is 2-5 on the season and issues and injuries on both sides of the ball have prevented Paul Johnson’s squad from living up to their hype from last season. Dalvin Cook should have a field day with their 85th ranked run defense and the offense should continue its impressive stretch of performances.