Monday, January 7, 2013
By the numbers: FSU's ground game
By David M. Hale
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.
First up: 40.
That's the number of rushing touchdowns by Florida State this season -- double its total from a year ago.
Florida State's offense might have lacked some consistency, but this year's unit was markedly improved, and that started with the ground game. Only four other teams in the country boasted a bigger increase in rushing touchdowns from 2011 to 2012 than Florida State, and even with the loss of starter Chris Thompson in Week 8, the Seminoles still finished with the third highest yards per carry of any team in the nation (5.62).
It's hard to quantify the impact the improved ground game had on FSU's offense this year, but across the board the differences were staggering.
Essentially with just three additional running plays per game, FSU doubled its ground gains in 2012.
Perhaps as impressive as the overall running game was the depth. Take away the yardage lost to sacks, and Florida State had five runners -- Lonnie Pryor (8.0), Thompson (7.5), EJ Manuel (6.4), Devonta Freeman (6.0) and James Wilder Jr. (5.8) -- rack up at least 45 carries and average at least 5.5 yards per rush.
Of course, plenty of credit goes to the offensive line, with the Orange Bowl providing a prime example. Of the 243 yards FSU gained on the ground against Northern Illinois, 196 of them came before contact was made with a defender (81 percent), and runners went untouched on all three touchdown runs.