- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the 2012 season officially in the books, we took a look through the stats to determine some of the most significant improvements and problems Florida State endured this year with five stats that defined 2012.
The numbers don't always tell the whole story, but these numbers shed some light on some of the biggest reasons Florida State won 12 games and its first ACC title in seven years, and also why those other two games got away.
We started with a look at the ground game on Monday.
We looked at some curious playcalling by Jimbo Fisher on Tuesday.
Next up: 161.9.
That's the average number of yards Florida State's defense allowed through the air in 2012, more than 30 yards per game fewer than it allowed a year earlier.
That's something of an astonishing feat considering how many questions there were in the secondary when the season began. Xavier Rhodes was still recovering from a knee injury. Greg Reid had been dismissed from the program. Youngsters Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby were thrown into the fire. Terrence Brooks (safety) and Tyler Hunter (nickel) were in their first seasons as starters. It was a turbulent preseason.
And while there was ample reason to dismiss Florida State's schedule this season, it's not as if the ACC lacked viable passing attacks. Clemson, Virginia Tech and NC State all featured quarterbacks projected as NFL prospects. And yet, no team in the nation allowed fewer passing yards per game than Florida State.
Here's a comparison of 2011 vs. 2012 for FSU's pass defense:
It's a tribute, in part, to the work done up front, where QBs rarely had much time to throw, and to the work of former coordinator Mark Stoops. But more than anything, it's a tribute to the players in the secondary who stepped up. For the season, Florida State allowed just 41 passing plays of 15 yards or more -- tied for the fewest in the nation.
The only potential concern is that the interceptions were down a bit, but that also comes from the fact that there were so many three-and-outs. FSU allowed the fewest passing first downs per game of any team in the country.
Now with Lamarcus Joyner coming back for 2013 and Waisome, Darby and Karlos Williams playing with experience under their belts, it's possible this could be the best set of defensive backs in the nation next season.