This week we bring you another numbers-centric breakdown of the SEC’s biggest game of the week. On most weeks this fall — when he’s not in California watching his own son play college football — guest analyst Ralph Miranda will provide us with a quick Tuesday breakdown of CBS’s Game of the Week or another big game airing on ESPN.
Ralph knows the game. He was a walk-on linebacker for Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team and he also served as color analyst for Vanderbilt football games on television in the 1990s.
We think his short breakdowns — focusing on stats that coaches often say are the most important stats in football — will give you a little something extra as we wrap up one week and roll into the next.
And now, I turn it over to Ralph for his breakdown of Florida’s big 44-11 win over South Carolina:
South Carolina — 4 (3 fumbles, 1 interception)
Florida — 0 (0 fumbles, 0 interceptions)
1st-and-10 Plays Covering 4+ Yards:
South Carolina — 30 1st-and-10 plays / 8 of 4+ yards
Florida — 22 1st-and-10 plays / 6 of 4+ yards
3rd Down Conversions:
South Carolina — 3 of 14 (21%)
Florida — 7 of 16 (44%)
Explosive Plays Covering 20+ Yards:
South Carolina — 2
Florida — 1
Three Keys To Victory:
When South Carolina fumbled on the first snap of their first offensive possession and Florida cashed it in for a TD the game turned. While that statement seems obvious the repercussions were catastrophic. The turn of events effectively put the Florida crowd in control making it even more difficult for USC to operate their offense. Also, any doubt in the minds of the Gator players as to whether or not they could handle South Carolina was erased. It was as if the game started with Florida on top 7-0. That’s huge!
2. Missed Opportunities
Florida was in front 7-3 midway through the second quarter. A Carolina defensive back stepped in front of a Driskel pass deep in Florida territory for a pick six! Only one problem… he dropped it. That would have likely made the score 10-7 South Carolina and turned the momentum, crowd and psyche of the Gamecocks completely around. Florida went on to punt, USC fumbled the punt and Florida drove 29 yards for the score that put them up 14-3. On the ensuing kickoff, South Carolina fumbled yet again and Florida took it in from the 1-yard line to go up 21-3. With a little over five minutes left in the first half, the game was over.
3. Trending Downward
Over the last two weeks Carolina has turned the ball over six times. They have converted six of their 27 third-down opportunities (22%). Their defense has allowed the opponent to convert 18 of 35 third-down opportunities (52%). They have played in poor field position while allowing the opponent short fields. They haven’t been able to run the ball and must pass it when the opponent knows the pass is coming. It appears that a once highly touted USC team has now been exposed. Either they can’t execute when the pressure is on, Marcus Lattimore is more vital to the offense this year than last, or the coaching in big games is lacking.