Five Factors – Florida International

Courtesy: Miami Herald

Courtesy: Miami Herald

It was a game that mirrored last season’s matchup.  Both years the IU offense struggled early with last season’s first offensive touchdown coming late in the 2nd quarter.  This year the offense had even more struggles with the first TD occurring at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Last season FIU held a 14-13 halftime lead.  In 2016, IU was up 12-10 at the break.

In both seasons, a pick-6 interception by the defense effectively ended the game.

And while some things were very similar, there were also several differences, mainly on defense.  Let’s take a deeper look.

Explosiveness

isoPPP Explosive % Yards/play
INDIANA 1.1 16% 6.1
FIU 1.5 7% 4.9

You’ll notice that Florida International had a better isoPPP whereas the Hoosiers had a sizeable explosive play advantage.  What this means is Indiana had a higher percentage of big plays.  FIU’s big plays, while less frequent, just ended up going for much larger gains.  That is evidenced by the Panther’s 2 plays of 40+ yards whereas the largest Indiana gain was 28 yards.

On the ground, Devine Redding had an explosive run[ref]Counted here as a rush of 10+ yards[/ref] on 18% of his carries, up from 14% last year.  If there was one complaint, ever so small, it is that none of the backs were able to break a big run.  The longest run was 19 yards.  Last season Indiana had just 2 games without a rush of 20+ yards.  I would expect this to be more of an anomaly than a trend.

In the air, despite missing Simmie Cobbs, Indiana’s top receiving playmaker, and breaking in a new quarterback, the Hoosiers had some decent gains.  None of the plays were huge, the largest gain was 28 yards, but Richard Lagow and his receivers showed an ability to go downfield.

Defensively, there is still room for improvement as FIU had gains of 40 and 45.  While not great, it does pale in comparison to the 75 yard gain IU allowed in this matchup last year.  These massive gains, almost always resulting in touchdowns, absolutely ruined the IU defense last year.  It’s encouraging to have 0 in the opener.

Efficiency

All (close) Rushing (close) Passing (close)
INDIANA 51% 57% 40%
FIU 31% 38% 29%

Again Devine Redding led the way for Indiana with a 68% success rate[ref]The percentage of plays deemed successful by this definition: 50% of needed yards on first down, 70% of needed yards on second down, or 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down.[/ref].  He went for 5+ yards on an astounding 64% of his rushes.  For comparison, he was at 28% last year.  Even Jordan Howard ended the year at 47%.

Mike Majette and Devonte Williams both were at a 50% success rate[ref]With Majette showing a little more explosiveness.[/ref]  Freshman Cole Gest had a quick burst on an 11 yard rush, but otherwise showed his youth gaining just 6 yards on his other 5 carries.

In his first start at Indiana, Richard Lagow was completely fine at quarterback.  The passing game was slightly out of sorts for 3 quarters with just a 32% success rate.  However when it mattered most, Lagow and company found a nice rhythm.  In the 4th quarter, Lagow went 4 for 5,[ref]With all 4 completions being successful[/ref] for 95 yards and a touchdown.

The defense allowed a tiny success rate of 31% in non-garbage time.  Indiana allowed a lower rate in 1 game last season.  On 3rd down, IU allowed a conversion on just 2 of 12 plays in non-garbage time.  Compare that 17% conversion rate with the 40% rate from last year and it is evident that the defense was able to get off the field much better than last season.

Field Position

Avg Starting FP
INDIANA 26
FIU 23

No advantage here and neither team started in opponent territory although it is a little tougher WHEN THE DEFENSE KEEPS TAKING INTERCEPTIONS TO THE HOUSE.[ref]Please continue.[/ref]  It’s worth noting that the worst opponent starting field position in 2015 was Iowa starting at their own 5.  It took all of 2 drives for the Hoosiers to best that in 2016 with Jospeh Gedeon’s legendary first punt.  With FIU starting at their own 1 yard line, the result was a safety.

Finishing Drives

Scoring Opportunities* Points Per Opportunity
INDIANA 8 2.3
FIU 4 3.3

Yikes.  If there was ever a reason why this game was so close most of the game it was the missed opportunities.  Simply put, Indiana was unable to finish their drives.  Indiana had a scoring opportunity[ref]A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent’s 40 (or scores from outside the 40).[/ref] on 6 possessions in the first 3 quarters.  The result was 3 points.  Seriously.  3 points.  Let’s rehash:

  1. Indiana failed to convert on 3rd and goal from the 4 and settled for a field goal.  While the kick was good, I actually wouldn’t mind KW going for it here so deep in FIU territory.  Fail to covert and the Panthers are backed up at their 4.  Instead, they started at their 25 yard line following a touchdown.  This probably requires Indiana to make the decision going into 3rd down that it is 4 down territory, but I’m fairly confident that Devine Redding could have gained 4 yards on 2 carries.
  2. Uncharacteristic missed field goal by Griffin Oakes.
  3. Indiana had 1st and 10 at the FIU 38.  Two Redding rushes got it to 3rd and 2, but a Danny Friend false start backed up IU by 5 yards.  KW played it conservative and punted.
  4. 1st and 10 at the FIU 39, but an incomplete, Cole Gest fumble which lost 3, and a Majette rush for no gain led to another punt.
  5. 1st and 10 at the FIU 35, but Lagow was sacked for a 7 yard loss and then a Devine Redding fumble ends the possession.
  6. 1st and 10 at the FIU21.  Devonte Williams was stopped for no gain, Lagow couldn’t connect with Isaac James, a false start, and a 1 yard completion on 3rd down set up a 42 yard field goal attempt.  However, Mitchell Paige couldn’t handle the snap and the drive ended.

You’ll see in the box score below that IU played well enough to win by 27.5 points even though they only won by 21.  That is largely reflective of these missed opportunities.

On a brighter note, Indiana had scoring opportunities on 8 of 11 drives when excluding end-of-half and end-of-game time-killing possessions.  That’s not bad.  Indiana has too talented an offense for the Hoosiers not to increase their points per scoring opportunity going forward.

Additionally, the defense only allowed 4 scoring opportunities.  The result was 2 field goals, a touchdown, and a late turnover on downs.  Allowing just 3.3 points per scoring opportunity and only 4 total opportunities isn’t sustainable.  But it is a great start and shows progress from the defense.

Turnovers

TURNOVERS Turnovers Turnover Points Added
INDIANA 1 16.3
FIU 3 4.1

Lots of positives here.  First of all, the defense was outstanding forcing 3 interceptions while almost forcing a couple of other fumbles.  Indiana was at a +8 in turnovers last season.  Dating back to last season, IU has forced 10 turnovers in their last 3 games.

Finally, kudos to Richard Lagow for protecting the ball.  While there were certainly some close plays and balls that could have been picked off, the junior QB finished his first game turnover-free.  Indiana is 6-2 over the past 2 seasons when they don’t toss an interception.

Billy