Playoff profile: Tigers' improvement steady, aiming for next level

Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt fakes a handoff to Clemson running back Zac Brooks against Duke.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt fakes a handoff to Clemson running back Zac Brooks against Duke.

Taking a more in-depth look at Clemson and the new college football playoff, pt. 2…

In part one, we talked Clemson, the new four-team playoff parameters and a what-if scenario based on last season.

Here’s the data from the six playoff contenders last season again…

2013

(Record, BCS percentage, strength of schedule)

1) Florida State (ACC Champion, 13-0, .996, 62)

2013 Returning starters: 10.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 7 (56 percent).

Scoring offense: No. 2. total offense: 6. red zone offense: 1. yards per play: 1. 3rd down %: 3.

Scoring defense: 1. total defense: 2. red zone defense: 24. def. yards per play: 2. 3rd down D%: 8.

Turnover margin: 3. penalties: 74. field position advantage: 2.

2) Auburn (SEC Champion, 12-1, .964, 13)

2013 Returning starters: 15.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 10 (53).

Scoring offense: 12. total offense: 11. red zone offense: 21. yards per play: 8. 3rd down %: 24.

Scoring defense: 47. total defense: 87. red zone defense: 10. def. yards per play: 95. 3rd down D%: 13.

Turnover margin: 61. penalties: 30. field position advantage: 44.

3) Alabama (2nd place SEC West, 11-1, .906, 39)

2013 Returning starters: 13.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 1 (73).

Scoring offense: 17. total offense: 33. red zone offense: 86. yards per play: 5. 3rd down %: 17.

Scoring defense: 4. total defense: 5. red zone defense: 4. def. yards per play: 13. 3rd down D%: 23.

Turnover margin: 49. penalties: 28. field position advantage: 4.

4) Michigan State (Big Ten Champion, 12-1, .860, 51)

2013 Returning starters: 15.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 19 (16).

Scoring offense: 63. total offense: 81. red zone offense: 79. yards per play: 82. 3rd down %: 39.

Scoring defense: 3. total defense: 2. red zone defense: 36. def. yards per play: 1. 3rd down D%: 2.

Turnover margin: 10. penalties: 77. field position advantage: 5.

Had a case?: 1) Baylor (Big 12 Champion, 11-1, .772, 48)

2013 Returning starters: 13.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 20 (13).

Scoring offense: 1. total offense: 1. red zone offense: 67. yards per play: 3. 3rd down %: 21.

Scoring defense: 36. total defense: 27. red zone defense: 22. def. yards per play: 9. 3rd down D%: 20.

Turnover margin: 8. penalties: 125. field position advantage: 14.

2) Stanford (Pac-12 Champion, 11-2, .819, 1)

2013 Returning starters: 15.

Blue-chip ratio (counts 2014 class): No. 17 (39).

Scoring offense: 45. total offense: 69. red zone offense: 11. yards per play: 26. 3rd down %: 10.

Scoring defense: 10. total defense: 16. red zone defense: 16. def. yards per play: 15. 3rd down D%: 10.

Turnover margin: 61. penalties: 48. field position advantage: 3.

Last-week addition(s)/drop-out(s) to (BCS) final four: In – Michigan State; Out – Ohio State.

Stats that stick out…

Those six teams excelled in some common areas on both sides of the ball. The group, for the most part, was among the top-15 in yards per play (offense and defense), scoring defense, field position advantage and third down defense.

National champ Florida State ranked in the top-two nationally in yards per play (offense – No. 2/defense – No. 2), scoring defense (No. 1) and field position advantage (No. 2).

Clemson’s numbers in those areas were solid, but not quite playoff caliber – yards per play (offense – No. 23/defense – No. 23), scoring defense (No. 24) and field position advantage (No. 49).

In the previous three seasons, the Tigers had just two top-20 finishes in any of those categories (2010, yards per play – No. 20; scoring defense - No. 13). There’s some obvious year-to-year improvement however, going hand-in-hand with better recruiting.

A look through the playoff profile for contenders from 2010-13…

2012

1) Notre Dame (Independent at-large 12-0, .997, 21)

Yards per play: No. 38. Scoring D: 2. Def. YPP: 17. 3rd down D: 36. Field position advantage: 74.

2) Alabama (SEC champion, 12-1, .944, 19)

Yards per play: 5. No. 38. Scoring D: 1. Def. YPP: 2. 3rd down D: 14. Field position advantage: 6.

3) Ohio State (Big Ten at-large, 12-0, NA, 60)

Yards per play: 33. Scoring D: 31. Def. YPP: 28. 3rd down D: 18. Field position advantage: 55.

4) Florida (SEC at-large, 11-1, .898, 4)

Yards per play: 92 Scoring D: 5. Def. YPP: 4. 3rd down D: 10. Field position advantage: 17.

Had a case?: 1) Oregon (Pac-12 champion, 11-1, .862, 38)

Yards per play: 10. Scoring D: 25. Def. YPP: 26. 3rd down D: 15. Field position advantage: 11.

2) Kansas State (Big 12 champion, 11-1, .823, 14)

Yards per play: 25. Scoring D: 28. Def. YPP: 55. 3rd down D: 62. Field position advantage: 1.

Last-week addition/drop-outs to (BCS) final four: In – Oregon; Out – Georgia. Special case: Counting Ohio State in the top-four despite the bowl ban they were under in 2012 to give a more accurate picture. They still would have had to win the Big Ten title game though to stay undefeated.

How Clemson fared: 10-2, 7-1 ACC, No. 14 BCS. Yards per play: 24. Scoring D: 46. Def. YPP: 69. 3rd down D: 24. Field position advantage: 43.

2011

1) LSU (SEC champion, 13-0, 1.0000, 7)

Yards per play: 50. Scoring D: 2 Def. YPP: 2. 3rd down D: 19. Field position advantage: 2.

2) Alabama (SEC at-large, 11-1, .942, 15)

Yards per play: 12. Scoring D: 1. Def. YPP: 1. 3rd down D: 1. Field position advantage: 19.

3) Oklahoma State (Big 12 champion, 11-1, .933, 3)

Yards per play: 3. Scoring D: 61. Def. YPP: 59. 3rd down D: 81. Field position advantage: 5.

4) Stanford (Pac-12 champion, 11-1, ..848, 36)

Yards per play: 6. Scoring D: 30. Def. YPP: 59. 3rd down D: 6. Field position advantage: 70.

Had a case?: Oregon (11-2, .790, 35)

Yards per play: 4 Scoring D: 52. Def. YPP: 35. 3rd down D: 58. Field position advantage: 44.

Last-week addition/drop-outs to final four: None.

Note: Interesting test in the best v. deserving case here. Oregon throttled Stanford 53-30 on the road. Their two losses? LSU (40-27) to start the season and 38-35 to USC.

How Clemson fared: Yards per play: ACC champions, 10-3, 6-2 ACC, No. 15 BCS. Yards per play: 40. Scoring D: 81. Def. YPP: 71. 3rd down D: 72. Field position advantage: 59.

2010

1) Auburn (SEC champions, 13-0, .987, 13)

Yards per play: 3. Scoring D: 53. Def. YPP: 56. 3rd down D: 34. Field position advantage: 40.

2) Oregon (Pac-12 champions, 12-0, .972, 10)

Yards per play: 11. Scoring D: 52. Def. YPP: 11. 3rd down D: 20. Field position advantage: 9.

3) TCU (Mountain West champions, 12-0, .910, 76)

Yards per play: 14. Scoring D: 1. Def. YPP: 2. 3rd down D: 1. Field position advantage: 4.

4) Stanford (Pac-12 champions, 11-1, .837, 9)

Yards per play: 13. Scoring D: 9. Def. YPP: 34. 3rd down D: 30. Field position advantage: 23.

Had a case?: Wisconsin (Big 10 champions, 11-1, .804, 66)

Yards per play: 12. Scoring D: 25. Def. YPP: 51. 3rd down D: 68. Field position advantage: 8.

Last-week addition/drop-outs to final four: None.

How Clemson fared: 6-6, 4-4 ACC, unranked BCS. Yards per play: 90. Scoring D: 13. Def. YPP: 20. 3rd down D: 49. Field position advantage: 60.

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