- David M. Hale, College football
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Some of Saturday's numbers were ugly -- namely the second-half shutout for the Seminoles' offense. Some were impressive, like Karlos Williams' 11 tackles in emergency duty at linebacker. They all added up to Florida State's first ACC title in seven years.
Digging a bit deeper, here are five key stats that told the story of FSU's 21-15 win over Georgia Tech in Saturday's ACC championship game.
7. That's the number of turnovers coughed up by EJ Manuel in his past three games, including two in the second half against Georgia Tech. Manuel had been exceptional at protecting the football through the first 10 games of the season, even if he wasn't always particularly aggressive downfield. In the past three weeks, however, Manuel has made few big throws and has been prone to mistakes. In those three games, Manuel is a combined 51-for-77 (66 percent). He has just two completions of 25 yards or more and has averaged just 153 passing yards per game while tossing four INTs and just three touchdowns. On Saturday, he threw for just 134 yards against a Georgia Tech defense that had been allowing 248 yards per game through the air, and his longest completion of the day was a 21-yarder to fullback Lonnie Pryor, with the bulk of that yardage being picked up on the ground.
117. That was FSU's total second half offensive output. The Seminoles averaged a woeful 4.03 yards per play in the half and, for the second time this year, failed to score during a full half of football. Florida State had six second-half possessions Saturday, three of which ended in turnovers, two in punts, and the final came when the Seminoles ran out the clock to end the game. While Manuel did little to jump start the offense in the second half, the bigger problem was the running game, which averaged just 2.8 yards per carry after a strong first half in which it racked up 147 yards on 20 touches.
183. Georgia Tech's rushing yardage total was its second-worst performance of the season, with more than 150 yards fewer than its per-game average for the year. Tech ran 52 times, but mustered just 3.5 yards per carry as the Florida State defense was strong up front even without star defensive end Cornellius Carradine, and the linebackers turned in an exceptional performance. Karlos Williams, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Christian Jones combined for 37 tackles, including three for a loss, and a game-clinching interception. Tech entered the game second in the nation with 38 runs of 20 yards or more. It had just one Saturday -- by QB Tevin Washington for exactly 20.
3. That was the total number of catches by all of Florida State's wide receivers other than Rashad Greene, who set a season high with nine grabs. The remainder of FSU's receiving corps struggled to get open, and the three grabs it managed accounted for 16 yards, while Kelvin Benjamin's lone catch ended with a fumble. In the Seminoles' first 12 games of the season, the fewest catches by receivers other than Greene was six.
3. That's the number of times Manuel was sacked, on just 24 passing attempts. If there's a common thread in Manuel's recent struggles, it might be the pass protection. In FSU's past four games, Manuel has been sacked 14 times -- once every 9.6 passing plays. In the Seminoles' first nine games, Manuel was sacked just 13 times, or once every 17.7 passing plays. Of course, part of Saturday's troubles stemmed from Menelik Watson's ankle injury which forced Bobby Hart into action in the second half. Concurrently, FSU's offense withered.
Some of Saturday's numbers were ugly -- namely the second-half shutout for the Seminoles' offense. Some were impressive, like Karlos Williams' 11 tackles in emergency duty at linebacker.