FSU-UM preview

On Saturday, we're going to play a massively important game for the FSU program against our old nemesis, the Miami Hurricanes. To preview what we might expect to happen in the game, I decided to do some deep analysis of what has transpired so far this season for both teams. The game is not played on paper. Take this more as being indicative of what our tendencies will point to happening in this one and not as something etched in stone.

RUSHING OFFENSE
Team National Ranking Rushes Yards Yards Per Game
Miami #60 172 753 150.6
FSU #70 175 712 142.4

MIAMI RUSHING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Rushes Yards
Louisiana Tech #95 43 192
Florida #67 30 114
East Carolina #116 37 223
Boston College #47 34 136
West Virginia #82 28 88
AVG. #81.4 34.4 150.6 (4.38 YPC)

FSU RUSHING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Rushes Yards
North Carolina #110 42 236
Maryland #26 46 196
Georgia Tech #17 32 91
Colorado #62 24 93
Duke #98 31 96
AVG. #64.6 35 142.40 (4.07 YPC)

Rushing Offense: Advantage FSU, possibly a big advantage. We are #70 in the nation, compiling our numbers against an average rushing D of #64.6. They are #60 in the nation, compiling their numbers against an average rushing D of #81.4. They average 4.38 yards per carry while we average 4.07. I would call this a draw given that we have faced somewhat more difficult rushing defenses than Miami has. We are nearly identical in the amount of times per game we run the ball (35 for FSU, 34.4 for UM). They have rushed for 8.2 yards per game and 0.31 yards per carry more than we have, numbers that are easily explained by the comparative caliber of rushing defenses we have faced.

We do have experience against two high caliber run defenses this year with our games against Maryland #26 and Georgia Tech #17. We had mixed results in those two contests as we rushed for 196 and 91 yards respectively. Miami has yet to face a rushing defense ranked in the nation's top 40, so FSU's running defense will provide the first stern test for the Canes rushing attack.

The reason I say that FSU holds the definite advantage in this area of the game is the injury factor. Miami has compiled their numbers with top tailback Frank Gore healthy for all but part of the West Virginia game. He will not be available for this game due to an unfortunate season ending injury in that game. FSU has compiled our numbers with #2 and #3 tailbacks Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker out for 4 and 3-1/2 games respectively. Given how Leon and Lorenzo looked like they were going to be a big part of our offensive scheme based on the way they played against North Carolina, you'd have to figure that their return will bolster an FSU rushing attack that has struggled in their absence. So with everything else being virtually even, I can only conclude that the injury factor definitely gives FSU an advantage with the rushing offense.

RUSHING DEFENSE
Team National Ranking Rushes Yards Yards Per Game
FSU #19 180 446 89.2
Miami #41 176 634 126.8

MIAMI RUSHING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Off. Ranking Rushes Yards
Louisiana Tech #100 19 64
Florida #46 39 178
East Carolina #96 36 103
Boston College #23 45 119
West Virginia #27 37 170
AVG. #58.4 35.2 126.8 (3.60 YPC)

FSU RUSHING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Offensive Ranking Rushes Yards
North Carolina #104 27 72
Maryland #32 31 73
Georgia Tech #89 39 112
Colorado #112 38 83
Duke #53 45 106
AVG. #78 36 89.20 (2.48 YPC)

Rushing Defense: Slight advantage to Florida State. Florida State is #19 in the nation, holding our opponents to 2.48 yards per carry against an average rushing offense of #78 in the nation. Miami is #41 in the nation, holding their opponents to 3.60 yards per carry against an average rushing offense of #58.4 in the country. On the surface, one would say that this would be a decided mismatch, but when you look closer and see that Miami has faced more challenging rushing offenses than we have, it makes our advantage here less decisive. The difference in competition does make up some of the disparity in the numbers, but I'd still keep the slight advantage to Florida State in this department, given the 1.12 yards per carry difference being too much to overcome simply with the schedule difference. I do think we'll come out very fired up towards a goal of making UM one-dimensional in the absence of Frank Gore.

If our comparative performances against top rushing competition are the best indicators to go by, then FSU comes out looking very good in holding Maryland's #32 rated rushing offense to 73 yards as compared to Miami's struggle with Florida's #46 rated ground attack getting 178 yards, Boston College's #23 rated rushing offense getting 119 yards and West Virginia's #27 rated rushing offense getting 170 yards.

Rushing Overall: Advantage to Florida State that could turn into a big advantage if Miami's backup tailbacks Jarrett Payton and Tyrone Moss (and perhaps Jason Geathers?) aren't up to the task. Florida State's rushing offense averages 4.07 yards per carry while Miami's rushing defense gives up 3.60 yards per carry. Figuring the average of those numbers, FSU should be able to average around 3.83 yards per carry on the ground. Miami's rushing offense averages 4.38 yards per carry while Florida State's rushing defense gives up 2.48 yards per carry. Averaging these numbers, Miami should be able to average 3.43 yards per carry on the ground. Going with the 35 carries per game that these teams average, using this statistic as a barometer would translate into a 134-120 yard advantage for FSU.

The run defenses they have faced give up a combined average of 178.64 yards per game. So, with UM averaging 150.6 yards per game, that means UM's opponents are holding them to 28.04 less yards per game rushing than the average of all the opponents that have faced.. The run defenses we have faced give up a combined average of 148.64 yards per game. So, with FSU averaging 142.40 yards per game, that means FSU's opponents are holding us to 6.24 less yards per game rushing than the average of all the opponents that have faced. If those numbers hold true to form in relation to both how the teams are doing against opposing defenses and using the numbers both defenses have compiled as the average to judge against, FSU would out rush Miami roughly 121 to 59.

The rushing offenses they have faced gain a combined average of 149.31 yards per game. So with their opponents gaining 126.8 yards per game, that means UM is holding their opponents to 22.51 less rushing yards per game than their average. The rushing offenses we have faced gain a combined average of 125.49 yards per game. So, with FSU giving up only 89.20 yards per game, that means FSU is holding our opponents to 36.29 less rushing yards per game than their average. If those numbers hold true to form in relation to how both teams are doing defensively against the rushing offenses they are facing, FSU would out rush Miami roughly 120 to 114.

So no matter how you tally up the numbers, FSU should enjoy a modest advantage on the ground at worst, based on the tendencies and averages of our first five games, even before factoring in the injury situation.

PASSING OFFENSE
Team National Ranking Attempts Completions Yards Yards Per Game
FSU #16 178 113 1494 298.8
Miami #26 190 119 1357 271.4

MIAMI PASSING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Completions-Attempts-INTs Yards Sacks Yielded
Louisiana Tech #102 18-35-1 275 1-4
Florida #46 27-41-2 340 1-6
East Carolina #32 17-27-1 226 1-12
Boston College #43 20-33-2 164 0-0
West Virginia #79 37-54-2 352 0-0
AVG. #60.4 23.8 - 38 - 1.6 271.4 0.6 - 4.4

FSU PASSING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Completions-Attempts-INTs Yards Sacks Yielded
North Carolina #111 24-37-0 317 2-15
Maryland #16 17-30-1 231 2-17
Georgia Tech #83 15-30-2 160 0-0
Colorado #114 35-47-0 458 0-0
Duke #27 22-34-0 328 6-35
AVG. #70.2 22.6 - 35.6 - 0.6 298.8 2 - 13.4

Passing Offense: Very slight advantage to FSU. FSU comes in at #16 in the nation while Miami ranks #26 in the passing yardage department. They have accomplished their numbers against an average pass defense of #60.4 in the nation while our numbers come against an average pass defense of #70.2. Florida St. is averaging 298.80 yards per game while Miami is passing for 271.40 yards per game. As is the case with the rushing offense numbers being slightly in Miami's favor, the small advantage Florida State holds here also can be easily explained by the difference in the caliber of pass defenses we have faced. So I'd say these numbers to this point in the passing analysis are virtually even.

More numbers in the passing department reveal Miami is averaging 23.8 completions out of 38 attempts (62.6% completions) and throwing 1.6 interceptions per game. FSU is averaging 22.6 completions out of 35.6 attempts (63.5% completions) and throwing only 0.6 interceptions per game. Miami averages 7.14 yards per pass attempt. FSU averages 8.39 yards per pass attempt. So on these specific numbers, there is a definite edge to FSU. Miami throws an interception every 23.75 attempts, while FSU throws an interception every 59.33 attempts. That is a decided advantage to Florida State, so we really have to make sure that we exploit this as best we can.

Miami has given up only 3 sacks on the year with what would be 193 attempted passes (adding sacks to the passing play totals). So they give up a sack 1 out of every 64.33 pass attempts. FSU has given up 10 sacks on the year with what would be 188 attempted passes (again adding sacks to the total). So we give up a sack 1 out of every 18.8 pass attempts. We give up 13.4 yards per game to sacks while UM only gives up 4.4. Chris Rix has to make sure that he is able to get rid of the ball for an incompletion when under pressure without making a foolish mistake in throwing an ill-advised pass for an interception. Our OL has been very inconsistent with the pass protection so far this year, doing great one game, not so great on another. We have to be sure to protect Rix to minimize the chances of him making a costly bad decision under pressure. He's done a much better job of eliminating the turnovers and really bad plays this year, but Miami sometimes has a way of making you play at your worst.

I'd go with calling all these factors a slight advantage to Florida State simply because of the number of interceptions UM has thrown. That advantage could be negated in a big way if our pass protection has a bad game, but overall, I'll give up the average of 9 extra yards per game lost due to sacks in trade for the extra interception per game on the logic that a turnover is a bigger play than a -9 yard tackle for loss. Our extra 1.25 yards per attempt also helps with calling this area of the game FSU's way by a slight margin.

PASSING DEFENSE
Team National Ranking Attempts Completions Yards Yards Per Game
FSU #13 168 83 836 167.2
Miami #20 130 70 885 177.0

MIAMI PASSING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Offensive Ranking Completions-Attempts-INTs Yards Sacks Made
Louisiana Tech #10 19-34-2 246 3-8
Florida #33 18-27-1 219 4-15
East Carolina #103 16-24-2 126 2-16
Boston College #91 8-26-2 94 1-12
West Virginia #110 9-19-1 200 1-7
AVG. #69.4 14 - 26- 1.6 177 2.2 - 11.6

FSU PASSING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Offensive Ranking Completions-Attempts-INTs Yards Sacks Made
North Carolina #20 27-47-2 223 1-7
Maryland #64 14-31-1 124 3-20
Georgia Tech #92 12-25-1 128 6-43
Colorado #15 15-31-0 192 6-34
Duke #94 15-34-1 169 4-28
AVG. #57 16.6 - 33.6 - 1 167.2 4 - 26.4

Pass Defense: Even: FSU is #13 in the nation, giving up 167.20 yards per game in the air and Miami is #20, giving up 177 yards per game. We have accomplished our ranking against an average passing offense of #57 in the nation while Miami has faced an average passing offense of #69.4. So FSU is giving up 10 less yards per game while facing somewhat superior passing competition. That starts the pendulum our way in this phase of the game.

Miami has averaged 2.2 sacks per game for an average of -11.6 yards per game against their opponents. Florida State has averaged 4 sacks per game for an average of -26.4 per game against our opponents. So the pass rush department is a very clear advantage for the Seminoles in this game as our DL has definitely shown considerable improvement so far this year.

FSU limits our opponents to a very solid 4.98 yards per attempt, while Miami holds their opponents to 6.81 yards per attempt.

FSU gets an interception every 33.6 attempts by our opponents. UM gets an interception every 16.25 attempts by their opponents. While FSU holds advantages in all of the other statistical categories, this is the area where I feel Miami has the equalizer. In forcing interceptions over twice as frequently as FSU's pass defense, Miami is able to negate whatever other advantages we have. We must avoid throwing interceptions on offense. If we can neutralize Miami's dangerous strength here, then we do hold a definite advantage in the pass defense department.

Passing overall: Advantage to Florida State. FSU averages 8.39 yards per pass attempt while Miami holds their opposition to 6.81 yards per attempt, so FSU should be able to average 7.6 yards per attempt. Miami averages 7.14 yards per pass attempt while our defense holds our opponents to 4.98 yards per attempt, so Miami should be able to average 6.06 yards per attempt. Going with the average number of pass attempts both teams have shown this year (FSU 35.6, UM 38), this would translate into a 270-230 passing yardage advantage to FSU.

Miami gives up only 0.6 sacks per game while our defense averages 4 per game, so averaging those out would give us a 2.3 sack average (rounded down to a likely 2 sacks for us). FSU gives up 2 sacks per game while Miami's defense averages 2.2 sacks per game, so averaging these out would yield a 2.1 sack average (rounded down to a likely 2 sacks for UM). So it looks like the pass rush and pass protection area of the game will be a draw. If one team gets a decided advantage in this area of the game, this could be something that can really swing the game, given the tendency of Miami to throw interceptions with their offense, and make interceptions with their defense.

Miami throws 1.6 interceptions per game while FSU forces 1 interception per game on defense. This averages to 1.3, so rounding that down, FSU should expect to get 1 interception. FSU throws 0.6 interceptions per game while Miami forces 1.6 interceptions per game on defense. This averages to 1.1, so rounding that down, Miami should expect to get 1 interception. FSU does hold the slight advantage here with the averages at 1.3-1.1, so if a second INT is to be had, the odds would favor FSU in getting it.

The pass defenses Miami has faced have given up an average of 220.91 yards per game. That means Miami is throwing for 48.29 more yards per game than their opponents give up, on the average. The pass defenses FSU has faced have given up an average of 240.31 yards per game. That means FSU is throwing for 58.49 more yards per game than our opponents give up, on the average. If those numbers hold true to form in relation to both how both teams are doing against opposing defenses and using the numbers both defenses have compiled as the average to judge against, FSU should again come out on top with a 235-215 advantage in the air.

The pass offenses Miami has faced have averaged 211.66 yards per game. That means Miami is holding their opponents 41.46 yards per game under their averages. The pass offenses FSU has faced have averaged 228.42 yards per game. That means FSU is holding our opponents 61.22 yards per game under their averages. If those numbers hold true to form in relation to how both teams are doing defensively against the passing offenses they are facing, FSU would outpass Miami roughly 257 to 210.

So again, no matter how you tally up the numbers, FSU should enjoy a 20-40 yard advantage in the air, based on the tendencies and averages of our first five games.

SCORING OFFENSE
Team National Ranking Points Points Per Game
FSU #11 189 37.8
Miami #20 179 35.8

MIAMI SCORING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Points Scored
Louisiana Tech #69 48
Florida #32 38
East Carolina #114 38
Boston College #64 33
West Virginia #40 22
AVG. #63.8 35.8

FSU SCORING OFFENSE
Offense vs. Defensive Ranking Points Scored
North Carolina #117 37
Maryland #9 35
Georgia Tech #36 14
Colorado #112 47
Duke #79 56
AVG. #70.6 37.8

Scoring Offense: Even to maybe a slight advantage for Miami. FSU is #11 in the nation and UM is #20 in the nation with the Seminoles holding a slight 2 points per game advantage over FSU. FSU's #11 ranking came against an average defense of #70.6 while Miami's #20 ranking has been gained against defensive competition averaging #63.8. This is something of a deceptive statistic though because seven of Miami's TD's this season have come from their defense and special teams compared to only one score from FSU's special teams. So if FSU can avoid the deadly mistake to give Miami points in unconventional methods, this statistic should turn into an advantage for FSU. That's a big if though when you look at the number of potential playmakers Miami has on their defense and special teams. It is vital that we make UM's offense earn all their points on the day.

SCORING DEFENSE
Team National Ranking Points Points Per Game
FSU #1 37 7.4
Miami #18 79 15.8

MIAMI SCORING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Offensive Ranking Points Yielded
Louisiana Tech #88 9
Florida #21 33
East Carolina #117 3
Boston College #41 14
West Virginia #90 20
AVG. #71.4 15.8

FSU SCORING DEFENSE
Defense vs. Offensive Ranking Points Yielded
North Carolina #73 0
Maryland #40 10
Georgia Tech #102 13
Colorado #73 7
Duke #111 7
AVG. #79.8 7.4

Scoring Defense: Advantage for FSU. FSU enters this game with the nation's #1 scoring defense, yielding only 7.4 points per game. Miami comes in at #18, giving up more than double that total at 15.8 points per game. This is definitely a decided advantage for FSU. FSU has racked up it's defensive dominance against an average offense of #79.8, which is hardly an impressive gauntlet there, and makes our #1 ranking right now a bit suspect as far as the chances of us maintaining that status throughout the season. Miami has not played significantly better competition (at least not so significantly better as to negate our overall advantage here) in facing an average offense of #71.4. FSU's tendency to bend but not break in the first half is going to have to hold up and I'm just hoping we'll see a continuation of our second half defensive dominance.

Scoring Overall: Taking these scoring offense and defense averages, we get an average score of FSU 26.8 - 21.6. Whatever amount of points UM should get for playing slightly tougher competition with regard to scoring offense and scoring defense is something that can probably be negated by FSU's home field advantage. Both numbers would be slight because Miami's competition has only been marginally better in this area, and Miami isn't usually phased much, if at all by playing in hostile environments. So those factors would probably be a wash leaving the analysis here where I currently have it as a slim advantage for FSU.

TURNOVER RATIO
Team National Ranking Fumbles Recovered/Lost Interceptions Made/Lost Turnover Ratio
FSU #14 9/5 5/3 +1.20
Miami #54 6/5 8/8 +0.20

FSU does hold an advantage over Miami in turnover ratio, due to managing to force 9 fumbles this year. We have 9 fumble recoveries and 5 INT's on the year. Miami has 6 fumble recoveries and 8 INT's on the year. So we have both forced 14 turnovers. FSU's offense has 5 lost fumbles and 3 INT's on the year, while Florida's offense has lost 5 fumbles and 8 INT's on the year. So they have turned it over 5 more times than we have. As long as we can stay even with them here and not allow any of our turnovers to be returned for touchdowns, I'll feel pretty good about our chances. If we can win the turnover battle, then I look for a solid FSU victory with everything else factored in.

NET PUNTING
Team National Ranking Punts Average Net Punting
FSU #13 23 43.48 40.39
Miami #84 18 36.67 34.61

PUNT RETURNS
Team National Ranking Returns Yards Average
Miami #1 13 240 18.46
FSU #42 19 197 10.37

KICKOFF RETURNS
Team National Ranking Returns Yards Average
FSU #2 9 258 28.67
Miami #3 16 454 28.38

Special Teams: FSU holds nearly a six yard per punt advantage over Miami in the net punting statistic. FSU is #13 in the nation in this phase of the game, averaging 43.48 yards per punt with a 40.39 net yardage average with 23 punts with 10 returns for 71 yards factored in. Miami is #84 in the nation averaging only 36.67 yards per punt with a 34.61 net yardage average with 4 returns for 37 yards factored in. FSU has had to punt 23 times while Miami has only punted 18 times, with the difference there actually lying in Miami's five more turnovers. Miami is very dangerous in the return game with 3 TD's already from their return game. On punt returns, Miami is #1 in the nation, averaging 18.46 yards per return with 2 TDs, while FSU is #42 in the nation averaging 10.37 yards per return with 1 TD on a punt block. I think FSU would be well served to try to block one in this game as our punt returns have been pretty average recently, especially with all the block in the back penalties we seem to get. On kickoff returns, FSU surprisingly holds a very slight advantage as the Seminoles come into the game #2 in the nation in this department with a 28.67 yard average on 9 returns, while Miami comes in #3 in the nation with a 28.38 yard average on 16 returns. Miami does have 1 TD on a kickoff return though. FSU really has to make sure Miami doesn't hurt us with the return game.

Prediction:

FSU holds the advantage in too many categories for me to pick against us based on what the numbers say. We hold slight to significant advantages in nearly every major statistic from everything I see here. I tried to view things from a point of view that would favor the Hurricanes as best I could to avoid letting the heart dictate what I see, but the numbers just wouldn't back that up. When you hold a lot of slight advantages in this many phases of the game, that will usually add up to a pretty comfortable victory. But with the history of this series being what it is, it's difficult to get to anything resembling overwhelming confidence, no matter how good the FSU team looks on paper. Keep in mind that the numbers may well represent nothing but hogwash, especially this early in the season. But based on everything I see here and by going a little bit of a hunch of what I think we're going to see, I'm going to predict:

FSU - 23 Miami - 13

Now the best thing we can do as a fan base and for the program is to take this analysis and throw it away, save for knowing what areas we need to pay particular attention to. It is otherwise meaningless. UM has beaten us too many times when we had the better team on paper for us to put any stock in this. I actually became reluctant to post this anywhere after seeing how everything worked out, but I figure this disclaimer at the end should hopefully be enough to quell the temptation to use this towards any trash talking that would offend the almighty woof-gods.


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