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Third Down Conversions

Posted by cuorange on November 18, 2009

At first blush a 6 for 10 day on third downs appears to be ho-hum.  However, a look inside those 6 conversions shows why third down conversions are so important and lead to 20 point blow out wins.
Ahead 3-0 in the first quarter the Tigers faced a 3rd and 5 from their own 30.  Kyle Parker found Xavier Dye for 17 yards and first down to keep the drive alive.  Three plays later the Tigers faced 3rd and 7 at midfield.  Parker found Mr. Reliable, Michael Palmer, open for a 22 yard gain down to the N.C. State 28 and the Tigers went on to score a touchdown and go ahead 10-0.
Later in the second quarter the Tigers faced third and 11 from their own 42.  Parker found Jacoby Ford wide open in the center of the field for a 47 yard gain to the State 11 yard line.  Three plays later the Tigers were facing a third and 4 from the State 5 when Parker found Palmer open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a 17 point lead.
In the 4th quarter with the State still hanging around and trailing by 13, the Tigers had a 3rd and 3 from their own 43.  A stop here meant State could potentially have pulled within 6 points.  It wasn’t meant to be as Parker found Palmer again for a 16 yard game to the N.C. State 41 and the Tigers put the game away 2 plays later on a Spiller wheel route for a 36-17 lead.

Year 3rd and 1-3 3rd and 4-6 3rd and 7-10 3rd and 11 or more
2008 60.71% 38.10% 20.69% 8.33%
2009 62.16% 37.84% 32.56% 20.69%
2009 23/37 14/37 14/43 6/29

That was the good.  The bad was that the Tigers faced 3 third downs of 11 yards or more bringing their season total to 29 third downs of 11 yards or more.  Playing behind the chains as Swinney says.  And while the Tigers converted one of these last Saturday and ended up scoring on the drive, statistically speaking the odds are small on converting third and 11 or more.


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