We’re getting close to football. We’re finally in the single digits. 9 days until the Noles take the field at Doak Campbell Stadium. It’s so near. We’re all so ready.
But, before the season hits, I want to take a look back at an interesting stat, I came across this morning. I went through each of FSU’s 13 wins from 2014 and wanted to know how well the offense responded following a drive where the opponent had scored on the possession before, while the Noles were trailing. This is when I felt there was the most pressure on FSU’s offense. Not only because the other team had just scored, but because FSU was trailing. I didn’t really care about how FSU’s offense did when they had the lead. I wanted to know how we did when the most pressure was on us.
In 2014 FSU’s offense scored on 17 of 30 possessions when the other team had scored on the previous possession and the Noles were trailing. Looking at that number on the surface, is impressive enough. FSU was able to “answer” scores on more than half of these occurrences. That does so much for a team, on the whole. It silences the crowd on the road, or it gets the home crowd back into the game. It gives the defense a chance to rest and another opportunity to stop the offense that just scored on them.
But, and here’s where I had to do a lot of research, when you break down these numbers even farther, they get tons more impressive. We’ll start by just comparing the first half and the second half. In the first half, FSU’s offense scored on 10 out of 22 times when the opponent had just scored and the Seminoles were trailing. In the second half, the Noles were an incredible 7 out of 9 answering in this same situation.
Not only is the half by half comparison impressive, but the way that FSU scored to answer was, as well. Of the 17 times that the Noles were able to answer back in a situation when they were trailing, 10 times it was touchdown for touchdown. But, 4 times (3 in 2nd halves) they were able to answer an opponent’s field goal with an FSU touchdown. To not only answer, but outscore an opponent is huge. Only one time did FSU answer an opponent’s touchdown with a field goal (1st half against Miami.) 2 times, FSU answered field goals with field goals.
What about the times FSU wasn’t able to “answer” an opponent’s score? Well, there were 13 of these scenarios. 4 times is was a field goal and 10 times it was a touchdown that FSU could not immediately answer. But, let’s look at those. Three of those field goals were in the first half of the UF game. FSU did not immediately answer any of those, but did rely on their defense and a 94 yard interception return for a touchdown, so it didn’t come back to bite them too badly.
Now, let’s look at the touchdowns that FSU couldn’t answer immediately. The first time this happened, was against Clemson. FSU couldn’t answer either touchdown that Clemson scored on the Noles’ next drive. However, in the 2nd half, FSU scored on their second drive after Clemson’s final touchdown, to tie up the score. Against NCST, Florida State couldn’t answer a first half touchdown due to a fumble on the first play of the next drive. This pattern would continue. In the second half against Louisville and the first half against Virginia, FSU’s opponent scored and the Noles answered on the second offensive possession afterwards. Of the 9 occurrences that FSU’s offense couldn’t immediately answer an opponent’s touchdown, four of them resulted in FSU touchdowns on the next FSU possession, after a defensive hold.
There was one other time that FSU’s offense couldn’t answer immediately following an opponent’s score. Against Miami, FSU fumbled a kick return after a Canes touchdown. Since the offense never took the field, I didn’t hold that one against them. (Spoiler Alert: The good guys still won that game.)
So, when breaking it all down, FSU’s offense in 2014 was able to respond very well. I think a couple of key things led to this. First, Jimbo Fisher’s leadership. He was able manage the emotions of his players. His play calling was great. He put players in the position to succeed. Next, you have to look at Jameis Winston. His ability to compartmentalize and just play one play at a time was huge. He moved on very quickly from mistakes and did not let them compound. He represented every aspect of the word “clutch.” Guys like Greene and O’Leary were huge, as well. Everyone knew these two were Jameis’ favorite targets. However, they found ways to continue to get open and make plays.
So, hope you enjoyed this. FSU’s offense last year was much maligned, and probably for good reason. However, when they had to, they did what was needed and answered the call.