Study Hall: Clemson 35, Wofford 27

A team that dodged a bullet this past weekend (CU) hosts a team that dodges ALL bullets this coming weekend (Auburn). I have no idea what to expect, but "Auburn wins at the last second" seems to make the most sense, eh? Since that's kind of what they do?

Clemson 35, Wofford 27

Clemson Wofford Clemson Wofford
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 49.3% 30.8% Success Rate 49.0% 43.5%
Leverage % 69.0% 70.8% PPP 0.53 0.37
S&P 1.016 0.809
TOTAL
EqPts 31.8 22.6 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 43.7% 36.9% Success Rate 31.8% 21.1%
Close PPP 0.45 0.35 PPP 0.27 0.28
Close S&P 0.884 0.717 S&P 0.592 0.495
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 14.6 15.5 Number 1 1
Close Success Rate 44.7% 38.6% Turnover Pts 5.5 5.3
Close PPP 0.38 0.27 Turnover Pts Margin -0.2 +0.2
Close S&P 0.832 0.658
Line Yards/carry 3.29 3.12 Q1 S&P 1.141 1.206
Q2 S&P 0.900 0.594
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.916 0.796
EqPts 17.2 7.1 Q4 S&P 0.577 0.194
Close Success Rate 42.4% 25.0%
Close PPP 0.52 0.89 1st Down S&P 1.042 0.747
Close S&P 0.945 1.141 2nd Down S&P 0.763 0.695
SD/PD Sack Rate 10.0%/15.4% 0.0% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.922 0.524
Projected Pt. Margin: Clemson +8.9 | Actual Pt. Margin: Clemson +8

Five Thoughts

  1. Clemson faced basically the FCS version of Navy, a Wofford team that runs a unique offense (remember the veer?) and wins a lot of games with it -- they went 10-3 and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals last year. Unique offenses like this result in strong underdog strategies and odd matchups; sometimes you'll see a good team struggle against the system and a bad team destroy it. Now, this isn't to completely excuse Clemson -- after all, Ohio had no trouble with the aforementioned 10-win WU squad last year -- but it does say that the Tigers' struggles in this one may not translate to future games, especially considering Wofford didn't really actually run that well on a play-by-play basis (0.658 S&P). They racked up the rushing yards because they did nothing but run the ball.

  2. I can write off Wofford's relative offensive success, but I cannot write off those sack rates. Either Tajh Boyd needs to get rid of the ball a lot earlier, or he was getting no time at all to get passes off. (I saw not a single play of this game, obviously, so I would need a Clemson fan to fill me in on that one.) When he actually threw the ball, good things happened.

  3. One would expect that a run-happy FCS offense would struggle on passing downs, and Wofford certainly did. But Clemson did too. That goes back to the sack rates to an extent, but once Clemson leaves standard downs, where they can simply ride Andre Ellington as far as he can take them, Boyd and the passing game struggle.

  4. Thank goodness Clemson won the field position battle, eh?

  5. As I've mentioned previously, Wofford punked Clemson early on; the element of surprise was their friend. But in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, Clemson earned at least a little bit of credit by shutting things down.

Quick glossary after the jump.

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.

S&P+: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rates, a common Football Outsiders efficiency measure that basically serves as on-base percentage. The 'P' stands for PPP+, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. The "+" means it has been adjusted for the level of opponent, obviously a key to any good measure in college football. S&P+ is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

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