Final NCAA stats: Clemson led by No. 2 scoring D, improvement in red zone


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The Clemson defense ranked in the top-five in six major categories, and placed No. 2 overall according to advanced stats going into the title game.
The Clemson defense ranked in the top-five in six major categories, and placed No. 2 overall according to advanced stats going into the title game.

The Clemson defense made its mark on the final NCAA rankings with six top-five stats, led by the No. 2 scoring defense (13.6 PPG).

Other top-10 rankings included red zone TD percentage defense (4th; 44.8), total defense (4th; 276.7 YPG), pass efficiency defense (5th; 106.85 rating), sacks per game (5th; 3.29), passing defense (5th; 161.9), third down defense (6th; 29.3) and third down offense (7th; 46.3).

Some of the biggest strides year-to-year were in red zone efficiency and turnovers.

Clemson moved up 32 spots in red zone TD percentage on offenseo (14th; 72.55) and 46 spots in overall red zone offense (20th; 90.2). In turnover margin, the Tigers improved by 28 spots (43; 0.29).

Ups and downs and shifts on offense rendered a 26-place drop season-to-season in total offense (38th; 429.6) and an 18-place fall in scoring offense (32nd; 33.3 PPG), moving up 36 spots in rushing offense (35th; 194.07) and down 54 in passing offense (61; 235.5).

In the advanced stat wing, the Tiger ‘D’ went into Monday four spots better than its 2016 defensive ranking (No. 2) and significantly down from a No. 2 ranking offensively last season (45th). The Clemson defense ranked No. 1 in efficiency against teams in passing downs*.

Among top individual standouts, Ray Ray McCloud ranked seventh in punt return average (12.1), Kelly Bryant finished 10th in completion percentage (65.8), Travis Etienne placed 16th in yards per carry (7.2) and 26th in rushing touchdowns (13) and Clelin Ferrell topped out at 22nd in sacks (0.68 per game) and 25th in TFLs (1.3).

Top 25 rankings (stat; vs. 2016 rank): Scoring defense - 2nd (13.6 PPG; +8), red zone touchdown percentage defense - 4 (44.8; +10), total defense - 4th (276.7; +4), pass efficiency defense - 5th (106.85 rating; -1), team sacks - 5th (3.29 per game; +5), passing defense - 5th (161.9 YPG; +9), third down defense - 6th (29.3; -2), third down offense - 7th (46.3; +1), rushing defense - 12th (114.9; +12), red zone touchdown percentage - 14th (72.55; +32), punt returns - 17th (11.1; +16), red zone offense - 20th (90.2; +46).

Other key stats: Red zone defense - 31st (79.3; -1), scoring offense - 32nd (33.3; -18), rushing offense 35th (194.07; +36), total offense - 38th (429.6; -26), turnover margin - 43rd (0.29; +28), passing offense - 61st (235.5; -54).

Advanced stats (vs. 2016 rank)
S&P+ offense: 45th (-43)
S&P+ defense: 2nd (+4)
S&P+ special teams: 114th (-29)
Success rate on offense**: 18th (-11)
Success rate on defense: 2nd (+4)
IsoPPP (Explosiveness): 119th (-15)
Points per trip inside the 40 O: 30th (-5)
Points per trip inside the 40 D: 11th (+3)
Rushing S&P+: 8th (+13)
Rushing D S&P+: 7th (+18)
Passing S&P+: 25th (-22)
Passing D S&P+: 2nd (+2)
Standard downs S&P+: 9th (-5)
Standard downs D S&P+: 4th (+19)
Passing downs S&P+: 40th (-28)
Passing downs D S&P+: 1st (+3)
Adjusted pace: 36th (-28)
(Advanced rankings from pre-national championship game).

S&P+ is a Football Study Hall/Football Outsiders metric that combines ratings for the five factors of efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers.
* Passing downs are defined as second down with eight or more yards to go or third or fourth down with five or more yards to go. All other situations are “standard” downs.
** Success rate is determined by gaining 50 percent of the necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third and fourth down.


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