After Miami: The State of The Noles

Grades, A few final notes, players of the game, and getting ready for the Wolfpack... after the jump.


I don't want to reuse material, so if you've just stumbled upon Tomahawk Nation, and want to get a feel for our thoughts on the Miami game, check these out:

The Immediate Reaction

The Defensive Breakdown

An Excellent Eval of Ponder by user TrueColors

Part 1 of our breakdown of why penalties aren't a big deal

Part 2 of the penalties series.  They still don't have a major impact on the game.

Inside The Seminole Film Room: First Half Offense @ Miami

Inside The Seminole Film Room: 2nd Half Offense @ Miami



We still need to issue the grades for the offense (All defensive units received an "A")

As indicated last week, I will grade the Offense by Pass Offense and Rush Offense, with a unit breakdown within those two categories. 

Pass Offense:  D+

The passing game gets a D+.  They turned the ball over twice.  The pass protection was awful on everything except for max protect routes.  The play-action pass blocking was unconvincing on the whole.  The pocket routinely collapsed from the middle, warping the expected angles that the young tackles tried to maintain.  Some routes were sloppily run.  The receivers dropped 3 passes.  Ponder badly threw another four.  I hope Marcus Sims is never asked to pass block again.  He appears to not know the protection schemes, and doesn't even look like he is trying.  Jimbo was obviously scared to call straight drop back passes, dialing them up only when play action would be Jeff Bowden level silly.  His dropbacks off of play action were routinely a step or more too deep.  He is still throwing the ball late, and not fully trusting his reads.  He struggled to quickly read the defense off of play action.

Ponder had a quarterback rating of 86.  That's bad. 

There were positives, however.  Ponder made his best throw of the year on a 27 yard pass to Easterling into heavy zone coverage, setting his feet on a straight drop back without play action, on 3rd and long.  the game was played in a monsoon.  Miami committed two pass interference penalties, as well as a defensive hold, all on pass plays, accounting for 31 total yards.  That hidden yardage makes the passing game performance look a little better.  The game was played in a monsoon.  Ponder wasn't sacked, as he got away from the pressure pretty much all day.  The game was played in a monsoon.  The receivers did a much better job fighting for the ball than they had in the past 2 games.  Ponder rarely made BAD decisions, and that's an encouraging sign.  the first step in completing a pass is knowing where it is supposed to go.  I'll bet he made the correct read on 80+% of his plays.  Check this pass breakdown:

*Dashes are incompletes

3rd & 7+:  13, Pass Interference Call, Int (the ball that Miami picked in their endzone for a touchback that I still haven't seen), -, Holding on Miami, 27. 

We threw 6 times on 3rd and 7 or more, picking up first down 4 times.  That's pretty incredible.  In past years, we would have come up short on those, often throwing underneath.

2nd & 7+: 11, -, -, Int, -, 9, 19, 17, - 

So, 9 throws in this situation, 3 of which picked up first downs, and one coming up  a yard short.

Something that I really take issue with:  12 times FSU was in 2nd/ 3rd and 6 or less, and we threw only ONE pass.  If we're running the ball with crazy success (and we were), why not fake the run and go deep?  Why not give our wideouts more chances to go up and make plays?  Ponder did run the ball on 5 of these 12, but it looks like only 2 or 3 of those 5 were checks.


Running Game: A-

The running game was great, yet far from perfect.  Let's first look at the goals we set:

65% of carries by FSU RB's on First down go for 2 or more yards (win first down)

Fail.  Miserably.  Only 50% of first down carries by RB's went for 2+ yards.  Why?  As I discussed in the second half film session, McMahon and Furlong are horrible.  These guys are totally incapable of drive blocking a Division 1 DT.  I've held off in my criticism until now because they were able to get around their lack of strength and size by using finesse, speed, and cut blocks.  In the second half, these guys were dominated.  Miami's average interior defensive line adjusted.  Smith's first down rushes went for -2, 5 (outside run away from Furlong's side), 1, -4, 5, 8 (to the Left),-1, and -3.  That is really bad.

McMahon also cost us a crucial 3rd and 1, as he got blown at least 4 yards into the backfield, pinning Hudson, and stopping smith.

In response to this, FSUed wrote:

What are our options at C and RG? In blowouts against WCU and UTC did you see anybody flash potential that can be realized in the near term?

I responded with:

We have Brandon Davis at Center, though most don’t think he’s any good. Kid was suspended for the first few games. A.J. Ganguzza also plays center, but almost nobody I talk to considers him a real factor.

The move that I want to see is FR David Spurlock move into the right guard slot. He’s a little bit bigger and has a mean streak. Furlong has had some issues in the past that keep him from adding size (rumors of some blood problems, unconfirmed), and I really worry that we are wasting our time investing starts in a kid who could easily be passed in the offseason, and who will almost certainly struggle to maintain size throughout his career. We’ve already gone youth across the line, why not start the guy with a much higher ceiling and a significantly greater chance for long term success?

McMahon got Freshmen AA honors last year because of playing time only. Anyone who watches FSU can tell you that. Sometimes, there just aren’t other guys your age playing the position. McMahon is rounding into a player that will deserve a look at all conference this year, and All America status next year.

To answer your question more directly though, no, I didn’t see Spurlock dominate against WCU or UTC.

Teams will begin to see what we see on film, however, and will start to attack this weakness.

When we struggle in the coming games along the line, don’t be as surprised as many on some of the bigger sites will be. The signs are there, not for universal failure, but for some serious bumps in the road. Some things can’t be fixed with practice.

I don’t HATE McMahon or Furlong. I just try to write about what I see, and the overwhelming problem that I saw in this second half was the total ineptitude of our Center and Right Guard. Climbing to the second level is nice, but sometimes you are going to be asked to block the man in front of you without cutting him. We have to live with for now, and continue to do a good job of scheming around this weakness.  Mcmahon seems especially immune from criticism from the FSU centered media, most likely because he won an award last year, an award bestowed by writers who probably couldn't tell you his number and who certainly didn't watch his tape.  These guys must get a lot bigger, or we are in trouble.  We can't cut McMahon because we don't have a serious backup, but if Furlong doesn't get bigger in the offseason and we have options, he needs to go.  Write it up as some medical condition that doesn't let him retain muscle, place him as a Medical DQ so that he gets his education paid for, and thank him for playing.  That's if he can't get significantly bigger.  Scholarship limits will do that to you. 

Henry Orelus can’t get here fast enough. (Incoming Center Prospect)

1 or fewer fumbles

This goal was fine.  With the incredibly wet ball and the high number of rushing attempts, I was okay.

30 yards rushing from Christian

Check (correct).  Check (audible).  I'm amazed that Miami consistently let him do that.  They'd line up in Man-2, he checked to the QB draw or QB off tackle, and away he went.  4 times Ponder ran on 3rd and 7+.  3 times he picked it up (runs of 20, 12, and 13).  Christian trusted his reads, over, and over, and over again.  He can clearly read a defense, pre-snap.  That said, Miami rarely varied their look.

To think that other teams will continue to let Christian do this is foolish.  They will spy him part-time at the minimum in every game he plays for the rest of his time here.

I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss the RB's here.  Incredible fight, but questionable ball handling.  3 fumbles aren't good, but Thomas and Smith look really good.  Thomas has immense ability, and effortlessly glides down the sidelines.  I think he will be a special back for us in his time year.  Antone continues to impress, as he has a is somehow consistently falling forward, running with toughness on almost every play, and in no way resembles a first time rollerblader (running too far out in front of his legs).

The running game gets the A-, but we could be in trouble going forward.  Teams will adjust.  Good run defenses will slow this running game, which is fast becoming gimmicky.  Sorry to be the downer, but the defense will continue to carry this team.

We cannot keep ending up in 3rd and more than 6.  8 of 17 3rd downs called for us to pick up 7 or more yards.  That needs to improve.

Special Teams: D-

Fire Jody Allen Now.  Massively underqualified and the only remaining visible relic of the Nepotism Era.  Luckily, we have the best kicker in the ACC.

Players of the Game:

Offense:  Christian Ponder

The young signal caller accounted for an amazing 20 first downs.  Ponder is a first time winner of this award.

Defense: Dekoda Watson

Welcome back Dekoda.  Watson made it look elementary.  Three pass breakups, one interception, 3 tackles (1 for loss), excellent overall coverage, and several huge shots on QB Marve.  Like Ponder, he is a first time winner.


More Numbers:

  • The Noles are the only team in the Nation to allow fewer than 20% 3rd down conversions.  Opponents are a ridiculous 14-72 on 3rd down.
  • The Noles are 5th in Tackles for loss per game, with 8.4 per. 

More proof that penalties are pretty much irrelevant? 

Rank Name Games Penalties Yards Penalized Penalties Per Game Yards Per Game Wins Losses Ties
1 Pittsburgh 5 16 109 3.20 21.80 4 1 0
2 Navy 6 20 159 3.33 26.50 4 2 0
3 Virginia Tech 6 27 167 4.50 27.83 5 1 0
4 Boston College 5 18 145 3.60 29.00 4 1 0
5 Rice 6 23 178 3.83 29.67 3 3 0
6 Washington 5 19 153 3.80 30.60 0 5 0
7 Penn St. 7 26 218 3.71 31.14 7 0 0
8 Arizona 6 24 192 4.00 32.00 4 2 0
9 Syracuse 6 22 201 3.67 33.50 1 5 0
10 Iowa 7 26 239 3.71 34.14 4 3 0

By my count, only 2 of those teams are ranked. 

Here's the bottom 10:

109 Florida 6 50 380 8.33 63.33 5 1 0
110 Texas Tech 6 51 439 8.50 73.17 6 0 0
110 Southern Miss. 6 51 491 8.50 81.83 2 4 0
112 Oklahoma St. 6 52 445 8.67 74.17 6 0 0
113 Washington St. 7 61 588 8.71 84.00 1 6 0
114 Nebraska 6 54 429 9.00 71.50 3 3 0
114 Southern California 5 45 430 9.00 86.00 4 1 0
116 TCU 7 67 590 9.57 84.29 6 1 0
117 Hawaii 6 58 535 9.67 89.17 3 3 0
118 Florida St. 5 49 450 9.80 90.00 4 1 0
119 Georgia 6 64 513 10.67 85.50 5 1 0

Hmm...6 of the bottom 11 are ranked, and 3 more have winning records...

Those penalties sure are important...

  • Want proof that Ponder has good pocket presence?  FSU is 14th in sacks allowed per game (1.0), but 50th in Tackles for loss allowed.

Get Ready for the Raleigh on Thursday Night!

We will be doing a huge LiveBlog!  Be sure to get here and participate!

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