To complete the SEC Championship Game set, here is the promised Five Factors of winning review of the Florida State-Florida game. I was struck so much at how similar this game was to the Iron Bowl that I considered just doing a find-and-replace on yesterday's review to swap "Alabama" for "Florida State" and "Auburn" for "Florida" to save time. All of the names would be wrong and I'd be busted, of course, so here's the real thing.
This review ends with FSU's second-to-last touchdown, as that put the game into garbage time by the Football Outsiders definition of it. All sacks count as pass plays.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
For reasons I'll get into later, this is a little misleading when it comes to FSU's explosive run plays.
What isn't misleading the the Gators' goose egg on explosive pass plays. Treon Harris couldn't connect with several open receivers, and at times no one could get open amidst the FSU secondary. The Gators were without junior Demarcus Robinson, their best receiver. He was suspended for the game because "he made a choice" and it's up to the seniors to decide if he'll play in Atlanta. Without him out there, UF's passing game was pedestrian at best.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
The game's final score was not indicative of how good a job Florida's defense did. FSU seldom got into a rhythm, and as you can see here, it didn't fare well on a down-to-down basis.
The Gators' pass attack was a disaster more often than not. Starting center Cameron Dillard was out hurt, so guard Trip Thurman made his first ever start at the position. Bad snaps plagued Thurman throughout the game, as at least four of them were errant enough to kill plays. Harris missed guys, or guys weren't open, or Harris didn't deal well with pressure and either got sacked or flustered. If it wasn't one thing, it was another.
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
The fourth quarter is when the game turned. Down 13-0, the Gator offense actually managed to drive down to the FSU six-yard-line on a 16-play drive mostly in the third but that ended in the fourth. This was the offense's best scoring opportunity to that point in the game. On 3rd-and-4 from the six, Harris got pressured and took a 13-yard sack with an intentional grounding penalty. The ensuing field goal attempt was blocked. The UF defense next forced a punt, but the offense did nothing and then punted itself. The Gator defense then got a safety after forcing a fumble, making it 13-2 with a chance to swing momentum. On the possession immediately after, Harris threw two incompletions and took a sack to go three-and-out.
From there, the UF defense appeared to be done with the proceedings given the utter lack of support it got from the offense. FSU drove 52 yards with plays of 15, 12, ten, and 15 yards for a touchdown, and on the Seminoles' final possession during garbage time, the UF defense showed little effort in allowing another TD.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Jake Coker is more mobile than Maguire is, but Florida's defense could realistically force this kind of line from him in Atlanta. Of course if Harris has this kind of line in Atlanta, it won't matter.
Aside from one big catch each from Whitfield and Izzo, the yards per target and success rates here are all excellent for the UF defense. And if the personnel usage in the Iron Bowl is any indication, the Gators won't have this many pass targets to worry about.
Without Robinson to help open things up for others—and without Harris able to hit some open guys—all of these figures are pretty bad.
Here is where I'm circling back to the idea that FSU's explosive run rate was a bit misleading. Cook's overall line is misleading too. He had two nice runs of 21 and 32 yards prior to the safety when the Gator defense was giving full effort, but he also had six runs for no gain or loss and wasn't anything special. Afterwards, he lit up a defense that more or less had stopped caring.
This table above includes all of Cook's carries, including garbage time, just to help hammer home that point. Three of the five explosive Seminole runs that I catalogued back two sections ago came after the safety, leaving a rather average 11.1% explosive rate for FSU's run game prior to it. Effort: it matters.
This was one of Taylor's best games as a Gator. Behind an even more banged up offensive line than usual, he cranked out an excellent yards per carry rate and a success rate above 50%.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
|Florida State||Own 27||19||37.3%|
It was even less of a factor than I expected, especially because of...
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
Florida can't kick field goals. It can't run when everyone knows a run is coming. Its pass targets have a hard time getting open in the red zone, although Callaway did get open in the end zone during a garbage time drive and Harris overthrew him. The Gators are simply going to have to come up with something else to do in the red zone other than kicking, running, or passing.
There weren't any, though the safety basically was one.
Yesterday, I did a "let's come up with a score that actually represented the game as played" exercise with the Iron Bowl and ended up with 19-6 Alabama. Doing it again with this game tosses out the garbage time score for FSU and imagines that UF could actually make field goals. That gives you an eerily similar 20-8 final.
Nearly everything I said about Jeremy Johnson yesterday applies to Treon Harris. Jovon Robinson had a good game and probably should have gotten more carries, and the same goes for Kelvin Taylor. If Auburn had anything resembling a fully functional offense, the Tigers would've had a shot to pull off the win, and that statement applies to Florida against FSU too.
The good news for Florida is that it didn't look significantly different than a team that just hung with Alabama for nearly the entire game. The bad news for Florida is that the team that it looked like was an Auburn squad that finished the year 6-6.
If the shotgun snaps are good and Harris can actually hit his open receivers... it'll probably still be a disaster. Florida's offensive line on its best day matches up about as well against Alabama's defensive front as a sandcastle does with a tsunami. Harris being short means he tends to get some passes batted down at the line—he had three or four of those against FSU—and no one does that better or more often than a Nick Saban defensive line.
Florida's defense can probably do something similar to what it did in this game and keep the contest close for a good long time. Derrick Henry is a load, but he's run for fewer yards per carry on the year than Cook has. Jake Coker's thrown a pick on 2.7% of his pass attempts in SEC play, good for just eighth among league starters, and he probably should have a couple last week had Auburn held onto them. That fact could provide opportunities for the Gator defense to flip the field for the offense or even just do everything itself and score some points.
Both teams in Atlanta will be facing the toughest defenses they've seen all year outside of practice, and when that's the case, an ugly slopfest for three quarters is always a possibility. But like in this game here, it's hard to imagine Florida lasting a full four quarters.