Florida vs. Tennessee-Martin advanced stats review

After a bit of a slow start, Florida hit the gas and pulled away from Tennessee-Martin from the second quarter on. After a commanding victory where a bunch of freshman and reserves played, what’s the point of pulling out the fancy math?

I did it because I do it for every game, but I decided to go in a different direction than normal for the writeup. I know that there was a little angst about that first quarter and Florida maybe not playing up to its potential.

So, today I am comparing the 45-0 win over UT-Martin to last year’s 63-10 win over Idaho. The big win over the Vandals was part of the four-game stretch to end 2018 that got everyone excited for this year. I think you’ll get more out of stacking those two games up against each other than just presenting the figures from last Saturday in isolation.

This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays.

Points

“Points” is not one of the Five Factors, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Idaho got to ten, all scored well into garbage time. UT-Martin left with a donut. A slight edge goes to the 2019 defense, or at least the 2019 defensive backups.

UF had a pair of pick-sixes against the Vandals, meaning only 49 of the 63 points were offensive. The Gators had 45 against UTM, and if the turf monster doesn’t strike Kyle Pitts early on, it probably would’ve been 49 as well.

How did Florida only get three points in the first quarter against the SkyHawks when getting 28 in the first quarter against the Vandals? First, one of the pick-sixes came on the first play of the game. Second, Florida hit on some big plays early against Idaho that weren’t there against UTM because the SkyHawks kept dropping eight into coverage.

And, somewhat ironically, Feleipe Franks’s accuracy kept the clock rolling. There were ten combined incompletions in the first quarter of the Idaho game, six of them coming from Franks. Those stop the clock and allow for more plays to be run. There were zero in the UT-Martin game, as Franks was 6/6 and John Bachus was 3/3.

Florida scored 4.08 points per drive against Idaho and 4.09 against UT-Martin. Purely from an offensive scoring standpoint, the games were nearly identical.

Explosiveness

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.
Florida 2018 7 23.3% 7 15.9% 18.9%
Florida 2019 8 21.6% 4 10.8% 16.2%
Idaho 7 22.6% 1 2.7% 11.8%
UT-Martin 2 9.1% 2 7.1% 8.0%

The Gators were more explosive through the air against Idaho, but again, UTM was dropping eight into coverage a lot of the time. And if you thought Bachus’s couple of long runs were annoying, recall that Idaho QB Mason Petrino had five scrambles of at least 12 yards.

Florida’s offensive explosiveness rate was about the same except in the way you’d expect given UTM’s unusual defensive scheme, and the two opponents could barely generate big plays outside of surprise quarterback runs.

Efficiency

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
Florida 2018 56.7% 59.1% 58.1% 60.0%
Florida 2019 54.1% 56.8% 55.4% 66.7%
Idaho 38.7% 8.1% 22.1% 33.3%
UT-Martin 18.2% 28.6% 24.0% 0.0%

Let’s put a pin in Florida’s numbers and just look at the two FCS teams’ figures. Idaho had a merely bad day of rushing compared to a catastrophic day of passing. If you take Petrino’s five long scrambles out, then Idaho’s rushing success rate almost exactly matches UTM’s passing success rate.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR 3Q SR 4Q SR
Florida 2018 61.5% 75.0% 60.9% 11.1%
Florida 2019 53.8% 57.9% 73.9% 31.6%
Idaho 18.8% 5.6% 10.0% 26.3%
UT-Martin 36.4% 17.6% 11.1% 30.8%

The SkyHawks’ not-horrible first quarter success rate also contributed to UF’s low first quarter scoring total (and Dan Mullen’s F-bomb on his radio halftime interview). After the pick-six to open the game, Idaho went three-and-out on its next four drives. UT-Martin may not have scored, but its second drive went eight plays and its third went six — both at a glacial pace – before punts. Those together chewed up over nine minutes of clock and frustrated Florida’s head coach.

Now, look at Florida’s figures. The Gators smoked Idaho from the start before the backups stalled out near the end. The 2019 Gators were well above average in efficiency in the first half but didn’t move the ball effortlessly until the third quarter. We can talk about reasons for that in a film study piece later.

I’m going to skip the usual “Efficiency by Player” section because — spoiler alert! — basically everyone among the starters was efficient in both games. The only thing I’ll mention is that Franks improved from a 59.3% success rate on passing plays against Idaho to 64.3% against UT-Martin. Only throwing two incompletions will help with that.

Field Position

Team Avg. Starting Position Plays in Opp. Territory Pct. Of Total
Florida 2018 Own 32 39 52.7%
Florida 2019 Own 31 35 47.3%
Idaho Own 28 22 32.4%
UT-Martin Own 24 7 14.0%

Despite letting UT-Martin move the ball some in the first half (the SkyHawks had a second eight-play drive before intermission), the Gators didn’t allow then much time on the plus side of the 50. The 2019 Gators get an edge in this phase of the game.

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
Florida 2018 12 9 49 5 28
Florida 2019 11 7 45 4 28
Idaho 15 5 10 2 10
UT-Martin 10 2 0 1 0

I covered a lot of this in the Points section above, but I will point out that the 2018 Gators generated two more scoring opportunities while also failing in them. One flub was Emory Jones fumbling a shotgun snap that Idaho recovered.

The other was Lamical Perine getting stuffed on 4th & 1 midway through the first quarter. A fourth down, short yardage run in the first quarter not succeeding was a common occurrence in these games; it’s just the field position and ball carrier were different.

Turnovers

Florida had a turnover margin of +1 in both games. It had the two pick-sixes and the Jones lost fumble last year, while this year Kaiir Elam picked off a ball in the end zone. Elam’s interception didn’t put points on the board, but it kept some off and preserved the shutout.

Overall

If you were one of the ones counting the Idaho win as a part of the reasons for optimism for this year, then this win over UT-Martin should give you similar feelings.

UF was a little less explosive on offense due to opponent strategy but made UTM’s offense less explosive than Idaho’s. The Florida offense was less efficient early but it eventually caught up, and the backups fared better. The defense was about the same overall in efficiency terms, even if the SkyHawks’ success plays were distributed differently. This year’s team was a little better in field position. It was also better at turning scoring opportunities into points, even if last year’s team had more opportunities. The turnover situation is mostly a wash, though you could reasonably give an edge to 2018.

Mullen said in his Monday press conference that attention to detail was lacking in the first half, and you can see that in the success rate numbers. The national average is about 43%, so they were still way above that in accordance with the talent differential. However, they did not reach the heights of the first half against Idaho.

When it comes to blasting an overmatched FCS opponent, Florida was not significantly different in most areas last weekend than it was during its hot streak to end 2018. The divergences are explicable, from the UTM defense constantly dropping everybody in coverage to some missed details by inexperienced players. No one else on the schedule is going to do what that defense did, and fixing the small stuff is what practice is for. If you liked Florida’s 63-10 win over Idaho, you should like its 45-0 win over UT-Martin about the same.