Emotions were running high in Orlando on Saturday night when the Gators and Hurricanes squared off. The number of 15-yard penalties alone tells that story.
It’s worth it to take a step back and look at what the numbers tell us once that emotion is stripped off. That’s one of the advantages — though sometimes, a drawback — to using analytics to break down a game. It can give you a coolheaded perspective when it’s hard to get one any other way.
This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays. It differs slightly from the box score in two ways. I am not counting DeeJay Dallas’s fumble recovery yardage because it’s not representative of a normal offensive play. I also threw out Bubba Baxa’s fake field goal; I don’t know why it’s in the box score because it was negated by a holding flag before the dead ball personal foul extended the drive.
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.|
Miami gained 291 yards on 65 plays for an average of 4.48 yards per play on the night. However, UM gained 175 of its yards on six explosive plays. That leaves 116 yards on 59 plays for the rest of the game, an average of 1.97 yards per play.
Florida, meanwhile, gained 306 yards on just 54 plays for 5.67 yards per play overall. The Gators gained 168 yards on five explosive plays. What’s left is 138 yards on 49 plays, or 2.82 yards per play. That’s not a high enough average to move the chains in three plays, though notably, it is enough to move them in four.
Both defenses were well dialed in, except that on about one in ten official, not penalty negated snaps they’d allow a chunk play. Florida cashed both of its 60+ yard pass completions for touchdowns. Miami’s second field goal drive contained one explosive play, its first touchdown drive had three, and its second touchdown drive had one.
The only touchdown drive without an explosive offensive play was the one where Miami’s Jeff Thomas muffed the punt, which is like an explosive play for Florida’s special teams. Explosive plays were a major factor in this game.
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|
As you’d expect, Florida had the more efficient offense, to the extent you could call either of them efficient.
UM had a 50% success rate on its crisp opening drive; the full game rate drops to 22.8% without it. Explosive plays and drive-extending penalties by the Gators were about the only things keeping the Hurricane offense afloat the rest of the way.
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
Florida’s defense adjusted well at the half, and again, its own sloppiness in the form of penalties and poor tackling effort on Dallas’s 50-yard touchdown run are about the only reason Miami’s offense could do anything at all. On the three drives after that TD run, Miami had only three success plays in 23 snaps for a success rate of 13%. Stifling, when not committing 15-yard penalties.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Franks drops to 7.2 yards per pass, a passing efficiency of 130.0, and a success rate of 39% if you take out the screen that Kadarius Toney took 66 yards to the house. He’d look worse without Josh Hammond’s long catch too, but I won’t take it out because Franks earned that one with perfect ball placement on a long throw.
The picks were bad, and that’ll be something to discuss in a film study piece later, but he did respectably well against one of the country’s best defenses. Don’t forget that, Gator fans: Miami is legit on defense, and use the fact that Dan Mullen hired Manny Diaz twice as sugar to help that medicine go down.
Williams jumps up to a 36.7% success rate if you take out the ten sacks to get an idea of what he was like when he could actually get a throw off. He was a freshman in his first game, but he also did well against one of the country’s best defenses.
Perine had 18 combined targets and rushes, which is exactly one third of the 54 plays the Gators ran. Mullen loves what he’s got in his bell cow running back. As for the receivers and tight ends, this will be typical. There are so many of them that sometimes they’ll get several targets like Hammond and Pitts did, and sometimes they’ll come away with only one.
It is puzzling why Toney never got another target after how well his first one went. Only getting to run 54 plays, one of them being a fake field goal, does mean Mullen didn’t get a chance to pay off some of the things he was setting up. However, you’d figure after that 66-yard screen he’d try literally any kind of pass to Toney at least once in the next 49 plays.
Townsend was the only player to average more than five yards a rush. Davis at least gets to positive one yard per carry without the 11 negative yards he’s credited for on the fumbled pitch that he should’ve caught but that Franks put too far ahead of him. It was tough for the run attack all game, though. Blocking was an issue, and not just by the line. That’ll be something for a film piece too.
For the lack of targets, Toney did get three carries. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the jet sweep where he lost yardage was his final touch. It’s unclear how much he could’ve gotten to the outside, but if he committed to the initial momentum and followed his outside blockers, he might have made something of it. Instead he tried to stop and reverse field, and he lost six. Mullen wants Toney to stick to plays as designed and do less freelancing, so once Toney tried to make a circus play, that was the end of that.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
If not for turnovers, Florida would have dominated this phase of the game. Everyone will remember Townsend’s run, but he was fantastic on his three punts. Miami took over at their own ten and own five following the first two, and had Jeff Thomas not muffed the third, UM would’ve had the ball at their own 12.
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|
The first fumble and the drive killed by Toney’s freelancing on the jet sweep were the two times the Gators failed to cash in on scoring opportunities. The fumble accounted for the one red zone trip without points.
You’d like to see them give Miami fewer scoring opportunities, but one turnover put UM inside the UF 40 to start and two others set up the Hurricanes less than 15 yards from the 40. Only letting them score on four of seven isn’t bad, though one of the failures was a missed field goal. The defense can get credit for forcing the try but not so much for the shank.
I’ve referenced them enough that I feel like I don’t even need to put anything here. The two fumbles, a mesh point and an option pitch, were things that shouldn’t happen given the experience of the players involved and how much Florida practices those things. They will happen on occasion, but in theory, we shouldn’t see them happen again.
The picks are sort of their own animals. On the second, Franks should’ve just taken the sack to keep the clock moving instead of attempting a throwaway that would’ve stopped it. Franks’s end zone pick against LSU last year was another example of him needing to just eat the ball instead of tossing it while getting hit.
Miami only had the one turnover, and it was costly since UF punched it in for a touchdown.
Mullen notched his fourth career win with a turnover margin of -3 or worse. He’s now 4-9 in such games. The other wins were a 51-50 victory over Arkansas in 2015, a 28-16 win over Kentucky in 2011, and a 23-17 bowl win over Wake Forest also in 2011.
While throwing Williams under the bus on Monday, Miami OC Dan Enos repeatedly said he was getting his receivers wide open. He said they were prepared for everything Florida did on defense and saw everything beforehand on tape. His simplest statement about his attitude might have been, “we felt like we gave the kids the answers to the test”.
A perhaps more telling quote is this: “Actually, they played a lot softer in the secondary than we thought they were going to play in the secondary.” It’s possible that Florida didn’t do anything that wasn’t already on tape and went soft in coverage because Todd Grantham was confident his defensive front could regularly pressure the quarterback. Ten sacks later, he’d be right.
For as messy as everything was, this was a confident win for the Gators. You never saw them push the panic button. They ran their standard offense and defense without resorting to tricks, unless you want to count the tone-setting fake punt. Mullen went for it on fourth down several times because he was sure they could routinely pick up the conversions — and they did without fail. Franks shook off his first pick by tossing a perfect 65-yard strike to Hammond on his next throw. People can and will debate for the next two weeks whether that confidence was earned or misplaced, but it was there.
There is plenty to work on, and some guys coming back from longer-term injuries like Davis and Marco Wilson still have some rust to shake off. But Florida did beat Miami and looked like the better team in doing so. Some of the problems like the fumbles and dumb penalties are eminently fixable. Some of the offensive plays that died from a missed block were perfectly executed by ten other guys. What you saw on Saturday was not 2019 Florida playing at the ceiling of its potential.