- David M. Hale, College football
- 0 Shares
The regular season has come to an end, and while there will be at least 11 more games featuring ACC teams during the next month, we're wrapping up our last stats recap for a while -- an all-FSU/Georgia Tech issue.
Cook carries the load
With Karlos Williams out with a concussion, Dalvin Cook racked up 177 yards on the ground and another 43 receiving, while handling 31 of FSU's 32 rushing attempts (the other was by Jameis Winston). That meant Cook accounted for 94 percent of FSU's runs, which is by far the highest ratio for any tailback in the country this season against a Power 5 opponent. Only two others have even accounted for 80 percent.
The 31 carries were the most by an FSU running back since 2002, when Greg Jones had 32 in a loss to Miami. The 177 yards gave Cook 905 for the season, setting a freshman record at Florida State that had stood for 33 years. Despite having just 20 carries for 115 yards in the month of September, Cook is now just 95 yards shy of producing FSU's eighth 1,000-yard rushing season.
Cook became just the 13th running back this season with at least 31 carries in a game against a Power 5 opponent, and surprisingly he's the fourth freshman, joining Nick Chubb, Samaje Perine and Justin Jackson.
Since Week 10, Cook has 22 runs of 10 yards or more. Only Perine and Melvin Gordon have more during that span.
Winston's signature performance
Winston wrapped up Saturday's win -- his 26th straight as a starter for FSU -- with 309 passing yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers.
The numbers might feel a bit ho-hum for last year's Heisman winner, who has certainly had his share of big games. But really, this was a pretty remarkable performance.
In Winston's career, it was just the fourth time he's had three touchdown throws, no turnovers and 300 passing yards against a Power 5 opponent. He's done it twice this season (also vs. Syracuse), making him one of just four quarterbacks in the country with multiple games of 300 yards, three TD and no turnovers against a Power 5 foe.
Winston became just the eighth QB this season to post a three-TD, no-turnover, 300-yard game against one of the current top 25 teams. His opponent in the Rose Bowl, Marcus Mariota, also accomplished the feat, throwing for 318 yards and no picks against Michigan State, but it's also of note that Mariota's team was on the wrong end of another of those performances when Connor Halliday had 436 yards and four TDs against Oregon on Sept. 20.
FSU up the middle
Of Cook's 177 rushing yards against Georgia Tech, 149 came when running between the tackles. The Seminoles averaged 4.2 yards per carry before contact on Saturday. For the year, they'd mustered just 1.2.
Certainly the obvious answer to point to is the move of Cameron Erving from left tackle to center on Nov. 15 as the key to FSU's improvement up the middle -- but that wouldn't be accurate.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Florida State averaged 3.2 yards per rush between the tackles before the Miami game and has averaged the exact same 3.2 ypc since.
So more likely, the biggest key to Saturday's success was attacking a Georgia Tech weakness. Overall, FSU ran the ball 32 times against Georgia Tech, and just one resulted in a loss.
Greene is gold
Rashad Greene was once again Winston's favorite target Saturday, catching seven passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. In the process, Greene set the ACC's all-time record for receiving yards, passing former Duke standout Conner Vernon.
Greene now has 100 receiving yards or more in nine of his last 13 games vs. FBS foes. No other player in the country has more during that span.
Greene and Alabama's Amari Cooper are the only receivers in the country this season with six games in which they recorded at least seven catches, 100 yards and a touchdown.
With star receiver DeAndre Smelter out for the game, Georgia Tech's passing attack figured to take a step back. It wasn't obvious early, with the Yellow Jackets running at will, but as Justin Thomas was forced to throw more late, the difference was clear.
When targeting Smelter on throws of 15 yards or more this season, Thomas was 19-of-37 (51.4 percent), averaged 14.4 yards per attempt and had six TDs with just one INT, according to ESPN Stats & Info. On deep balls Saturday, Thomas was just 2-of-6 for 51 yards (8.5 per attempt) with no touchdowns and one interception.
Georgia Tech held a 10 minute, 50 second edge in time of possession Saturday -- the fifth straight game it had an edge of at least 10 minutes. It's average ToP margin during that span was 12:56. Overall, Tech finished the season third in time of possession, trailing Michigan State and UTEP.
Georgia Tech had 12 runs of 10 yards or more. That's by far the most FSU has allowed during the Jimbo Fisher era (Florida had nine in 2010).
Georgia Tech's ground game demolished FSU in the first half, running for 214 yards -- the most an FSU D has allowed in one half in at least a decade. But the big key for FSU's win was better tackling in the second half. Georgia Tech averaged 2.6 yards after contact per rush in the first half, but just 1.1 after contact in the second.
Thomas had his fourth 100-yard rushing day of the season, not including lost yardage to sacks. Only three other QBs have had as many: BC's Tyler Murphy, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and Auburn's Nick Marshall.
Florida State used 13 true or redshirt freshmen in the ACC championship game.
Saturday marked the ninth game this season in which Florida State has trailed at some point. There are 30 other Power 5 teams that have trailed in at least nine games, and their combined winning percentage in those contests is just .361. FSU, of course, is 9-0.
FSU has one sack in its last four games combined. Overall, the Seminoles have recorded zero or one sack in 10 of their 13 games this season, and Saturday was FSU's fourth game with none. That had happened just twice previously under Fisher. FSU ranks 115th nationally in sacks-per-game and 11th in sacks per pass attempt.
We're wrapping up our last stats recap for a while Ã