Florida versus Florida State advanced stats review

Florida polished off a ten-win campaign by dominating Florida State to the tune of 40-17. It could’ve been worse had the Gators not taken their foot off the gas some in the second half. Here’s a look at how bad it was before halftime and how much worse it could’ve been if not for a little mercy being taken.

This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays. It excludes the handful of plays from the drives that ended the two halves.


Everyone has a different definition for what counts as an “explosive play”, but I go with runs of at least ten yards and passes of at least 20 yards.

Team Runs 10+ Pct. Passes 20+ Pct. Explosive Pct.
FSU 3 13.6% 3 9.1% 10.9%
Florida 2 8.3% 5 10.9% 10.0%

The one thing the Seminoles did well was keep the Gators from having explosive plays. It wasn’t all them though; Kyle Trask overthrew a number of deep sideline passes where his target had a step on the defender.

Two each of FSU’s explosive runs and passes came in the second half. That means in the first half they had one explosive run in 13 rushing plays (7.7%) and one explosive reception in 12 passing plays (8.3%). The Seminoles going heavy with passes late as they tried in vain to catch up meant the rushing explosive rate rose more thanks to the post-intermission proceedings.


The main measure here is success rate. Watch this short video if you need to brush up on it.

Team Run SR Pass SR Overall SR Red Zone SR
FSU 31.8% 36.4% 34.5% 23.1%
Florida 37.5% 45.7% 42.9% 50.0%

The Gators had a comfortable efficiency lead, which is what you should’ve expected coming in. It could’ve been a lot worse, though.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR 3Q SR 4Q SR
FSU 60.0% 13.3% 42.9% 31.3%
Florida 55.0% 50.0% 33.3% 14.3%

UF possessed the ball so much that six success plays in ten snaps on FSU’s sole first half touchdown drive make up the entirety of the visitors’ first quarter success rate. The Gator defense rebounded well afterwards, shutting the Seminoles out for the rest of the half.

Florida wasn’t as sharp after the break. The third quarter touchdown drive needed a third down conversion following two non-success plays, a fourth down conversion following three non-success plays, a big 30-yard completion to Lamical Perine, and a defensive pass interference flag to help overcome a Kyle Pitts personal foul. They couldn’t punch it in from one yard out on three tries on the next drive, and then in the fourth quarter Dan Mullen took mercy and called some runs to kill clock.

Efficiency by Player

Player Comp. Pct. Pass Eff. Yards/Att Sacks Pass SR
Kyle Trask 73.2% 167.6 8.4 0 43.9%
Emory Jones 75.0% 226.8 8.3 0 75.0%
James Blackman 60.9% 115.7 6.5 7 33.3%

This game was a fairly good encapsulation of the Trask experience.

He was highly accurate, completing almost three quarters of his passes. Several of his misses were dead on, but his lack of arm strength meant defenders could get a hand in the way. A couple of those misses should’ve been picked off but weren’t for one reason or another. In the end, he was more efficient than explosive and always looked like he knew where he wanted to put the ball. With Feleipe Franks on the way out, we’ll get to see what difference an entire offseason with the 1s can make with him.

Blackman wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t great either. It’s tough when you can’t trust your line to block for you.

Player Targets Catches Yards Yards/Target SR
Kyle Pitts 7 5 44 6.3 57.1%
Tyrie Cleveland 7 4 44 6.3 42.9%
Trevon Grimes 6 2 14 2.3 16.7%
Kadarius Toney 5 4 65 13.0 40.0%
Freddie Swain 5 5 62 12.4 60.0%
Van Jefferson 5 5 48 9.6 60.0%
Lamical Perine 4 3 40 10.0 50.0%
Josh Hammond 3 3 39 13.0 66.7%
Jacob Copeland 2 1 5 2.5 0.0%
Lucas Krull 1 1 15 15.0 100.0%
Dante Lang 1 0 0 0.0 0.0%

Florida spread the ball around quite a bit, although it was for modest yards per target gains for the top three guys. It was an unusually busy day for Cleveland, as he had more targets here than he did in the previous four games combined (five).

I’m not going to post the table, but FSU only targeted five players. Tamorrion Terry had 12 targets, and the other four had 12 targets combined. The only team to target fewer players against the Gators was LSU, which only targeted four (and one of those only got one).

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Emory Jones 7 4.7 28.6%
Dameon Pierce 5 1.0 40.0%
Lamical Perine 4 4.5 50.0%
Kyle Trask 4 4.0 50.0%
Josh Hammond 1 5.0 100.0%
Malik Davis 1 0.0 0.0%
Tommy Townsend 1 0.0 0.0%
Kadarius Toney 1 -1.0 0.0%

I’m surprised they didn’t give Perine a chance in either goal line situation. I know Greg Knox is in charge of the running back rotation and he tends to leave the same guy in for entire drives, but c’mon, give the senior a chance to score. Pierce gained three yards on 2nd & 4 and one yard on 3rd & 1 but rushed for zero, one, and zero on his other three carries. That’s how a guy who averaged one yard per carry gets a 40% success rate.

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Cam Akers 16 5.9 31.3%
Jordan Travis 4 2.3 50.0%
James Blackman 2 5.5 0.0%

I told you on Friday that the sole key to the game was stopping Akers. The Gators largely did that, and the end result was never in serious doubt. Seven of the Seminoles’ 17 points came on an Akers 50-yard run. Setting aside that one explosive play (and the one I tossed out from drive that ended the first half), and Akers had 44 yards on 15 carries (2.9 YPC) with a rushing success rate of 26.7%. Stop the running back, win the game.

Field Position

Team Avg. Starting Position Plays in Opp. Territory Pct. Of Total
FSU Own 31 18 32.7%
Florida Own 28 39 55.7%

Tommy Towsend’s failed fake punt is the most notable field position event. A Zach Carter 13-yard sack followed by a mediocre punt setting up the Gators 40 yards from pay dirt would be the only other one exchange worth mentioning. Florida’s edge in plays in opponent territory didn’t turn into an average starting field position edge because the Gators kept scoring so much.

Finishing Drives

A trip inside the 40 is a drive where the team has a first down at the opponent’s 40 or closer or where it scores from further out than that. A red zone trip is a drive with a first down at the opponent’s 20 or closer.

Team Drives Trips Inside 40 Points Red Zone Trips Points Pts./Drive
FSU 10 4 17 3 10 1.70
Florida 10 7 40 5 30 4.00

For perspective, Florida scored 4.75 points per drive against Towson, 4.09 points per drive against UT-Martin, and 3.77 points per drive against Vanderbilt. Look at just the first half, and the Gators scored an even 5.0 points per drive — or 5.17 if we’re generalizing and want to spot Evan McPherson his missed extra point in the middle of all the firework smoke.


None for either side, though Florida tried. Trask had a couple of ill-advised throws, and an illegal formation penalty wiped out Swain’s muffed punt. Townsend’s turnover on downs functioned as a turnover.


Basically all of the first half statistics are better for Florida than the second half ones. It really was as it felt while watching the game: the Gators had their killer instinct in place outside FSU’s first offensive drive but weren’t as sharp after the break. It’s hard to fault them when they went into halftime up 30-7.

Despite what you may have heard from various commentators, Florida State is not lacking talent. They’re sixth in the 247 Sports Team Talent Composite, and there was plenty of athleticism on display from their side. They just haven’t been developed well by the late Jimbo Fisher staff or Willie Taggart’s bunch, and a critical shortage of players who panned out on the offensive line makes the situation that much worse.

So while FSU may have more talent by the recruiting rankings, Florida by far had more skill. It’s skill that has taken a noticeable jump over the past two years. There still were things to complain about Saturday, like the lack of push in the run game from the O-line or safety play against RPOs, but overall the Gators were just better at everything.

That’s basically the sales pitch for Mullen and his staff: they may not be stocked with ace recruiters, but they’ll coach ’em up with the best of them. Mission accomplished. With UF now easily atop the Big 3 for the near future, we’ll see if that translates into bigger recruiting gains. If it does, watch out.

David Wunderlich
David Wunderlich is a born-and-raised Gator and a proud Florida alum. He has been writing about Florida and SEC football since 2006. He currently lives in Naples Italy, at least until the Navy stations his wife elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @Year2