I’m sure you all want to move on from this game as much as I do, so I’ll keep things short. Otherwise, read the GTT Game Review from yesterday for a deeper look at this weird and horrible game.
A ”successful” play, as defined by Football Outsiders, is when a play gains enough yardage to keep the offense on track, i.e., 50% of needed yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd, or 100% on 3rd/4th. A ”big play” (aka “explosive play”) is any play that gains ≥15 yards (run OR pass).
Total Running and Passing
Success by Runner
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I thought we’d get a more meaningful swan song for departing from departing senior Damien Harris, but I suppose it makes sense that he split the reps with Josh Jacobs — who’s likely played his last snap in Crimson, as well. Jacobs was the most efficient and productive back on the day, with a 72% rushing SR, but Damien had the one explosive play from the rushers. Unfortunately, this success on the ground didn’t product much explosiveness, which is a bit of a trend for this group this year that showed up in the worst way in this game.
Don’t look now, but Najee Harris had nearly as many attempts as the departing starters, and with a solid 70% SR to boot. Really, these SR’s from the running backs are all fantastic: the QB rush attempts and sacks here — being all blanks — really drag the average down, but our running backs were having similar levels of success that they had vs. Oklahoma.
Success by Passer
We’ve all got our gripes and vicarious regrets, but Tua Tagovailoa did well according to the normal expectations of a quarterback... especially against a great defense. With one more pass than Trevor Lawrence (35 to his 34), Tua had one more successful play (for a solid 49% passing SR), and an equal number of explosive plays (for a really good 20% SR). Too bad “explosive” for Tua didn’t always mean 60 yard touchdowns (though it did that one time early).
Success by Receiver
Devonta Smith has been very active since he’s been back from his injuries during the middle of the season: that 36% receiving SR isn’t great, but we sure tried to go to him a lot. Didn’t work quite the same in this year’s version of the title game, though he did come down with a few explosive catches.
Jerry Jeudy and Irv Smith Jr. were actually more efficient receivers, with 63% and 60% SR’s, respectively; and Jaylen Waddle made the most of his limited opportunities, with a 50% XR and 100% SR from a small sample size.
Unfortunately, Henry Ruggs III didn’t do his usual highlight-reel contribution: we only saw one catch from him, and that turned out an unsuccessful play.
The running backs were involved to some degree in the passing game, with 5 attempts between Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs — we might miss this next year with Najee and Robinson not generally catching passes this year.
Overall, you see a good amount of explosiveness across 5 different receivers. That’s really good distribution! Too bad it didn’t do much.
Success by Tackler
This one is a bit of a mess. If you look at the explosive (dark) bars here, you see a few sore thumbs, like Saivion Smith having to make 2 tackles on explosive plays, then his backup Josh Jobe coming in to have to do the same thing. Jared Mayden helped round out our “defensive backs chasing people around” effect.
Xavier McKinney is something of a bright spot: 2.5 tackles on unsuccessful plays (aka. 2.5 stops) is good for a defensive back, and he made the most total tackles on the day. Unfortunately, a lot of those tackles were on successful plays by Clemson, so he was probably the “plan B” on those plays. Deionte Thompson, for his notable coverage bust(s) in this game, actually shows up pretty respectably here.
For all of our postgame griping — some of it deservingly so, given the lack of pressure on Clemson’s QB — the linebackers and defensive line show up remarkably well here: just look at all those stops on the whole first half of the chart! If you’d told me our top 8 tacklers would have 23 stops between them and only 1 tackle on an explosive play, I’d think we surely won that game. Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams, and Anfernee Jennings, and middle linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses show up big. And is that Raekwon Davis chasing people down from behind?
Unfortunately, nobody gets a tackle on a long TD, so those few (but critical) moments don’t show up in this chart.
The bad news: again, feel free to revisit the game review to better understand how charts that look this good are from a game that we lost by 28 points.
The good news: some of the most significant contributions above are from players that will be back. On offense, it’s especially Tua, the receivers (probably minus Irv Smith Jr. and the pass catching running backs), and Najee Harris. On defense, there are a few more questions, but it might be everybody on that tacklers chart except for Quinnen Williams, Jamey Mosley, and maybe another early draft pick from somewhere.