Clemson offense finishes among nation's best in advanced metrics

The Clemson Sports Blog

Adam Humphries

Photo by Mark Crammer

Adam Humphries

Alabama was good – really good this season, but just how much and where does Clemson fall in that mix?

Football Outsiders (FO) has a number of advanced metrics for football statistics, including their F/+ ratings. FO cuts the fat from football stats, including numbers against FCS opponents and points and yards in garbage time.

F/+ specifically combines the Fremeau Efficiency Index, based on scoring efficiency by possession, and their S&P+ ratings, based on success by individual plays.

By the F/+, Alabama ranked No. 1, obviously, but by a margin of 6.5 percentage points (45.4 to No. 2 Oregon’s 38.9), with a No. 4 offense (+18) and No. 2 defense (+24.1).

The numbers weren’t as friendly to the Tigers, at No. 22, behind Alabama by 27.1 percentage points (+18.3) thanks to a No. 60 defense (-0.1) coupled with the No. 7 offense (+14.8).

LSU was the one team that Clemson beat that finished ahead of them in the F/+, at 7th, thanks to defense (5th, +19) and special teams (9th, +5.7)

The next-nearest beyond the Tigers in ACC play was Virginia Tech, at No. 40 (+8.9).

The Hokies fell well below their five-year average going into the season (17.6), while FSU far exceeded (+28.3 from +13.1) with Clemson above as well (+18.3 from 12.1).

More Offensive Stats

‘Tis the season for final stats in college football, and Seldom Used Reseve (SUR) tallied up its final offensive efficiency numbers.

Clemson comes in at 9th (111.97), among the best in adjusted tempo (No. 8, 114.3) and with room to improve in adjusted efficiency (No. 24, 109.6).

UNC ran runner-up in 14th (109) and FSU 16th (108.2) to round out the ACC’s top-25 offenses. The Seminoles ran one of the slowest offenses (No. 88, 94.07), but were efficient (No. 3, 122.34).

Clemson adds two ’13 top-20 offenses to the schedule next season in Georgia (17th, 108.05) and Syracuse (20th, 107.87).

The Tigers played three of the worst five offenses this season – Auburn (No. 116), Wake Forest (No. 117) and Maryland (No. 120).

Bowl-less Louisiana Tech (9-3) set the standard, at 2nd in tempo (122.93) and 12th in efficiency (114.83).

Defense wins championships, and games...lots of games

Breaking down the top-10 in the F/+ in defense and SUR’s best offenses – you notice a difference in the championship and win/loss count.

Eight of the ten defensively were in the double-digit win category, compared to three on the offensive side (Texas A&M, Clemson and Oregon). The top defenses routed offenses in championships, with a national and four conference titles to zero.

On average, the elite defenses finished with an 11-3 record to the elite offense’s 9-4 mark.

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Comments » 1

TigerNE writes:

As long as I've been on this earth the most successful college coaches have preached that defenses win games in tight situations. That these overall stats prove it isn't surprising.

Of course, people will point to isolated games like the CFA, where our determined and unrelenting offense beat out one of the highest ranked defenses in LSU. But if you look at the numbers closely, it still took a ton of plays and double the yards to win by one. So, the observation about defenses being key still holds in my book.

Swinney chose to first build a powerful offense. Now the focus is on defense. Whether or not that was the best strategy, at least we are now building out the defense (finally??)!

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