Success Rates

Success rate is a metric that Football Outsiders uses to evaluate a team's consistency and efficiency.  The standards for success are:

1st down: gain 50% of necessary yardage
2nd down: gain 70% of necessary yardage
3rd/4th down: gain 100% of necessary yardage (Same thing as 3rd/4th down conversion percentage.)

Successful plays divided by total plays equals success percentage.  I think this is a useful addendum to the regular per game and per play statistics and it's easy to compile, so I'm going to track it all season.  All I've got at this point are NC State's offensive and defensive rates, but I'll be adding the rest of the ACC in order to provide greater context down the road. 

(Quick contextual notes: the success rate for any given play is about 43%, per Bill Connelly at FO.  The most efficient teams in the country based on his 2007 figures had overall success rates in the high 40s.)

NC STATE OFFENSE VS. SOUTH CAROLINA
1st Down Success%: 22.7
2nd Down Success%: 31.6
3rd Down Success%: 35.7
4th Down Success%: 0
Overall Success%: 28.6

SOUTH CAROLINA OFFENSE VS. NC STATE
1st Down Success%: 52.0
2nd Down Success%: 28.6
3rd Down Success%: 33.3
4th Down Success%: 66.7
Overall Success%: 40.6

The big difference between the Pack and the Gamecocks was 1st down efficiency--State's offense failed almost 80% of the time, putting it behind schedule all night.  The Gamecocks put themselves in good shape after 1st down more than half the time, which helped them stay the conservative course.  Steve Spurrier said South Carolina was too conservative in the game, and to that end, a couple of things stand out: they threw the ball 36% of the time on 1st down despite a 67% 1st down passing success rate that included four of the six completions for 10+ yards they had in the game.  Their 1st down runs were successful about 44% of the time.  Also, they ran the ball about 75% of the time on 2nd down, including 9 out of 11 2nd-and-middle and 2nd-and-short situations.

NC STATE OFFENSE VS. MURRAY STATE
1st Down Success%: 57.1
2nd Down Success%: 53.8
3rd Down Success%: 64.3
4th Down Success%: 50.0
Overall Success%: 57.1

MURRAY STATE OFFENSE VS. NC STATE
1st Down Success%: 15.8
2nd Down Success%: 7.1
3rd Down Success%: 16.7
4th Down Success%: 0
Overall Success%: 13.3

Hooray for cupcakes.

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