Ever since the end of the 2014 season, there has been talk, both by Canes personnel and fans, about certain efficiency or conversion rates . So, let's look at the numbers and see how things stack up as Miami heads into the meat of the schedule.
Red Zone Scoring
This was a major point of discussion throughout the off-season and training camp. Offensive Coordinator James Coley and QB Brad Kaaya were prominent figures who said, in no uncertain terms, that this was an area of performance that needed immediate and dramatic improvement.
|Red Zone Trips||48||---|
|RZ Scoring drives||38||79%|
|RZ Touchdown drives||25||52%|
In 2014, the Canes scored on 79% of Red Zone possessions (38 scores in 48 RZ trips). Of those scoring trips, 65.7% ended in Touchdowns (25 TDs out of 38 RZ scores). When considering the total number of RZ trips, however, that means that Miami only scored TDs on 52% of their RZ trips (25 TDs in 48 RZ trips).
When you look back on how 2014 played out, it's not hard to find these stats reasonable. And, we can all agree that they aren't preferable and are in dire need of improvement.
|Red Zone Trips||13||---|
|RZ Scoring Drives||11||84.6%|
|RZ Touchdown Drives||9||69.2%|
To this point of the 2015 season, however, the Canes are looking to be a much more efficient offense in terms of Red Zone production. Through 2 games, the Canes have scores on 84.6% of their Red Zone Possessions (11 scores in 13 RZ trips). Not only that, but they're finishing drives WITH TOUCHDOWNS at a much higher rate, with 81.8% of their RZ scores being TDs (9 TDs out of 11 RZ scores). Extending that out, the Canes have scored TDs on 69.2% of their RZ trips (9 TDs in 13 RZ trips).
Obviously, the pink elephants in the room are 1. Sample Size (using 2 games as a representative unit of measure has its faults), and 2. Competition (I mean, Bethune and FAU aren't the greatest teams in the world, so Miami should have had the advantages they did).
3rd Down Conversions
Unlike the Red Zone efficiency rates, which have had positive improvement to this point of the season, the Canes have continued to struggle on 3rd down.
And I mean struggle.
in the 2014 season, the Canes converted on just 36.81% of their 3rd down opportunities (60 conversions in 163 chances). That was good for 95th nationally and 11th (out of 14) in the ACC. But, those numbers are a good deal better than what Miami has done so far this season.
Through 2 games, Miami has converted on only 6 out of 24 3rd down attempts. That's a 25% conversion rate. That mark puts the Canes at 118th Nationally, and DEAD FRIGGIN' LAST in the ACC for conversions. And it's not even close. The next lowest 3rd down conversion rate on 3rd down by an ACC team is 34.48%, or 9.48% better than Miami. That's a big gap. That's very, incredibly troubling.
Extending that out, there hasn't been much success based on 3rd down distance, either. Of the 24 3rd down chances, 15 of them have been 5 yards or less. And, in those 15 3rd and-or-fewer chances, Miami has only converted 5 of them.
On 3rd downs and-6-or-more yards to gain? Miami is just 1 for 9 on the year. 11.1% if you're looking for the math.
So, the conversion rate is bad in short to medium yardage situations and atrocious otherwise.
For all that talk of "getting better on 3rd downs" since the end of 2014, the fact is this team has regressed in that area. Badly. And, if we're going to be a competitive team (i.e. a team that can win 8+ games), this needs to change. Immediately.
If you're talking numbers, you gotta talk to Bill Connelly
If you've read SBNation's analytics guru Bill Connelly's work (and if you haven't, you're missing out), you know that he uses numbers to help explain what happens in a given game. So, once I had this conversation on twitter and began writing this piece, I could think of no better person to have help weigh in on this debate.
And, as usual, Bill will let the numbers tell the story. Here's what he sent me relative to the Canes so far this season:
|Yards Per Play||6.4||28th|
|Field Position (created for defense)||n / a||n / a|
|Points per scoring opportunity||5.6||32nd|
|Yards per play||4.1||30th|
|Field Position (created for offense)||37.2||8th|
|Points per scoring opportunity||4.0||46th|
|Expected TO Margin||+1.6||28th|
|Turnover luck (in PPG)||11.0||2nd|
So, overall, the Canes have been good, but not great on Offense, good, but not great on Defense, and Elite in terms of field position, Turnovers created, and Turnover luck.
The further along we go this season, and with more challenging teams on the schedule than Bethune-Cookman or FAU, Miami will need to find a way to sustain or improve on the offensive and defensive metrics listed. This will be especially true because it's foolish to think we can rely on the defense being this disruptive in terms of turnover creation and luck, areas in which we struggled greatly last year.
There you have it, in black and white. Some numbers are great. Others, not so much. But, after 2 games, we now know where Miami stands, and where we need to go to continue to be successful.