The Noles Invade Raleigh! Preview, LiveBlog, & Open Gamethread here!

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Don't you just love gameday!?  I do. 




Off of a bye week, the Noles travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the NC State Wolfpack.  Obviously, there are things you like about having a Thursday Night Game (National TV Exposure, and a feeling that you have a 3-day weekend).  Then again, we all remember our first ever ACC "loss" (Dunn was in), and the several other weeknight defeats that would follow in the subsequent years.

Tonight, though, we travel to Raliegh as an unranked team, a team that needs to handily win a game they should easily win, and a team in need of some positive National exposure.  The Chris "Do I really have to be here" Fowler, Jessie "my tie doesn't even reach my nipples" Bachelor Palmer, and Craig "I can't find the keys to my Booster's car" James have this game.  They haven't been kind to the Noles in the past.  Expect them to talk about the impending NCAA meeting (OCT 18), expect them to profile Bobby as he appears disconnected on the sideline, but also prepare yourself to hear a good amount of talk regarding what will happen on the field.  if we come out and dominate NC State, they won't be able to ignore us.  The voters won't be able to either.

As always, let's review what we've already done in  of this game:

Why Penalties aren't a big deal: Part 1, Part 2

I discussed the state of the Noles

I discussed the Nole's remarkable injury luck

The Contest is up! .

And, of course, a huge interview with our friends at Section Six

NOTE:  This preview is not up to our normal standards.  I apologize.  The Noles had a bye week, but I did not, and I wasn't able to get the in-depth level preview that you guys have hopefully come to associate with Tomahawk Nation.

When NC State has the Ball

Clearly, this is the strength of our team.  I'll preview them first.

From our conversations with Steven of Section Six (link above), we know that NC State operates almost exclusively out of the shotgun.  We also know that they run a decent bit of the zone option read.

NC State's QB is Russel Wilson, and this kid can run.  I believe he was a pretty serious baseball prospect at one time.  NC State also has a decent TE in hill, but he's far from regaining last year's form.

Because of this, our strategy is going to be one of contain and discipline.  Err, well, we would like to think that.  Most likely, however, we will play very aggressive defense, allow Wilson to escape a few times, while also creating negative plays and forcing a few turnovers.  If this sounds familiar, it should.

We always seem to play tough defense against NC State:

Marcus Ball crushes Daniel Evans (via abellwillring)

The overall offense hasn't done much this season.  NC State has been the worst offense in the ACC, averaging just 275.5 total yards a game.  State has rushed for 100 yards in 2 of their last 3 meetings against the Noles, but this year appears to be the worst edition of the offense we've faces in some time.

Their offensive line is just flat bad.  Additionally, their LT is OUT.  Enter Everette Brown.  He is once again, hungry.

Speaking of Everette, it's now time for our Tomahawk Nation WWF Clip of the Week!  Brought to you by Curtain Jerker!  (For those who don't know, Posting a relevent WWF clip seems to help the Noles win.)  This week's theme is the ultimate destruction that EB99 will bring to Raleigh.  Curtain Jerker compared EB99 to Brock Lesnar (apparently, he's a current superstar).  EB99 v. a Backup LT from NC State doesn't sound good for the young QB, mobile or not. 

I found a few WWE videos I think are applicable. I’m focusing on Everette Brown against the LT of NCST. Brown is fast and agile while still strong, so he’s going to be Brock Lesnar in our little analogy…

Here are the clips:

Brock Lesnar F5's BIG SHOW (via coolhadi786)

Curtain Jerker says "here comes the pain!"

Ring collapse - Big Show Brock Lesnar (via Stoooboat)

Everette is a North Carolina native, a hard working Junior, and someone who should continue his dominance tonight.  This can be a showcase game for one of if not THE Noles best player.

DE Everette Brown Highlights FSU vs Wake 9/20/08 (via NFLDraftParty)


In the limited film I have watched, these guys have looked Clemson level bad.  I expect us to get pressure with the front 4, and be fairly creative with the other 7 defensive players.  Mickey did a great job of hiding his schemes in the Miami game, and we hope it continues this time. 

Safety Jamie Robinson is dinged and unlikely to go for the Noles.  His backup is Darius McClure, who is fairly experienced having started 2 games for the Noles this year.  The Noles need him to NOT BITE ON PLAY ACTION. 

The Goals for the Seminole Rushing Defense:

  • Keep NC Sate in 2nd and long: 40% of First Down Rushes for 1 or fewer yards.  (The STUFFED %)
  • Use penetration to get stops: 40% Win Rate on 3rd+ 4th n short rushing
  • Tackle Well: Less than 10 missed tackles (A Mickey Andrews Goal)
  • Don't have your good work go for naught: 2 or fewer draws of 3rd and 8 or Longer for first downs.
  • Contain Willson.  Make this kid throw.
  • No rushing TD's in the red zone.  Make NCST throw the ball.
  • Take good angles to the football: No more than 2 runs over 15 yards and no runs over 35 yards. 

The benchmarks for the FSU Pass Defense

  • No good day: Wilson under a QB Rating of 90 overall.
  • Limit Big Plays:  no more than 4 passes of 15+ yards
  • Selective Pass Interference: do not give up the deep ball.  If they do throw it, interfere like crazy. 
  • Hit Willson: Play to the echo of the whistle.  Have a sack rate (sacks / (pass plays + sacks)) of 7.5% or more.
  • Be studs on 3rd down: make the tackle when they throw underneath and don't allow them to get the 3rd down.  Limit Wilson to double digit QB rating on 3rd down.
  • Do not fall for play action on short yardage downs: DB's rarely make these plays but are usually the ones burned for trying to help out too much. 
  • Confuse Willson.  Mix the coverages enough to confuse Willson.  I'm annoyed that we give away our blitz too early.  Let's wait to walk down, and at other times walk down and then back out.
  • Create 2 turnovers.

Final Goals For FSU's defense

  • No Plays of 45+ Yards.  I doubt NCST can repeatedly drive on this team.  Let's make them try. 
  • 10 "Stops" Mickey defines a stop as a turnover, punt, or a surrender on downs.  That's fine by me. 
  • Less than 50% Red Zone TD Scoring
  • No scores off sudden change (make NCST get a first down off a turnover.  Do not allow the home run after a turnover)
  • Hold NCST under 300 Yards.  Mickey's goal is 300, and that is generous.

Florida State will stifle NC State's offense.  Wilson will get a few decent scrambles as we lose contain , and maybe a big pass or two.  For the most part, though, we will force them into negative and low percentage plays, while constantly hitting the untalented NC State players.  Everette Brown could become a household name, and people will once again talk about how fast the Florida State defense is.  NC State will run 65 plays, average 3.75 yards per play, and finish with around 245 total yards.  I expect them to get roughly 16 points (a TD and 3 FG's resulting from a long scramble or pass). 

I truly believe that this FSU defense is one of the Nation's best, especially the front 4.

So... 16 points and 245 yards allowed...  



What about the Offense?

As we know, NC State primarily runs a 4-3 front, and plays a lot of cover 3.  One of their linebackers is undersized, and they keep him on the field when teams spread the ball around. 

Numbers wise, NCST isn't very good on defense.  They're 71st in the Nation in Opponent Adjusted Pass Efficiency Defense (OPAED).  They give up 6.5 yards per play!  By that number, FSU should get 450 yards of offense based on a projected 70 offensive plays.  Good stuff.

NCST has a good DT and a good LB in Cash and Irving.  Both are back for this game after having various ailments throughout the season.  They also have a friend of mine, and former HS Teammate, Ray Michel (LB #44).  I'll be rooting for the Noles tonight, but if a 'Pack player does do something special, I hope it's big44. 

Anyways, to the strategy stuff.  You have the Ponder Quandary present.  Essentially, how much attention do you pay to CP7's running?  Some teams have totally disregarded his legs (cough...Miami... cough), and have been burned.  After his awesome running performance against the Canes, I would expect NCST to be a lot more aware of CP7's legs. 

NCST experts say they play a lot of cover 3, try to keep everything in front of them, etc.  This sounds a lot like what OBrien did at BC, and a lot like what Colorado did to us.  This works really well when a team can't run the ball.  Obviously, running the football will be a key in this game.  FSU wants to take NCST out of their cover 3 look. 

They'll do this with bubble screens, and hopefully, the stretch play.  If we can have some success running the ball, especially on the edges (see: COLORADO GAME), then NCST will adjust and bring their people up.  We can also exploit them by running receivers behind the guy who will spy Ponder (and they will utilize a spy on at least some plays).  Hi-Lo's will work here.  Once NCST moves up, it's bomb time. 

Hmmm... going deep?  That didn't work very well against Miami, in part because the weather was insane.  What does tonight's weather look like?

unset 6:37 pm Check Local Pollen Forecast
Partly Cloudy
75°F 0% 65°F 71% From WSW 5 mph
Partly Cloudy
71°F 10% 66°F 84% From SW 4 mph
Partly Cloudy
69°F 10% 66°F 90% From SW 4 mph
Mostly Cloudy
69°F 10% 66°F 90% From SW 4 mph

Hmm, could you draw up better October Weather for deep passing?  I think not.

Besides stopping a running attack that has become increasingly efficient, a very mobile QB, and the Bubble screen, NCST has major issues generating pressure on the passer.  They are easily the worst D1 pass rush we've faced to this point.  That's obviously good, because even though the sack numbers don't indicate this, we've had some protection issues in the past few weeks. 

Greg Carr had a field day against these guys last year:

FSU vs NC State Highlights 2007 (via crzyseminole)

I think we can block their front 4.  I think they'll be forced to make difficult choices.  Blitz?  Spy Ponder?  Get continually gashed by the bubble screen?  Cheat up and risk the deep ball in nice weather?  I can't believe I'm writing this right now, but I think FSU presents too many choices for an NCST defense with marginal talent. 

Obviously, we want them to get frustrated and blitz, and we want to run the ball, use play action, and hit big plays.  So, what are the goals for tonight?

Now, what are some reasonable goals for the passing offense?

  • No more than .33 drop per 5 throws
  • QB Rating of 135+ (13 completions in 25 attempts for 200 yards; 2 touchdowns and 1 interceptions), (16 completions in 30 attempts for 240 yards; 2 touchdowns and 1 interceptions), or (18 completions in 35 attempts for 280 yards; 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.).  Clearly, we're not a high completion % pass game, but Jimbo has stated that he doesn't care about that.
  • No careless throws into the flat. 
  • Sack Rate (sacks / sacks + pass attempts) of less than 5%.
  • 8 Yards per Attempt
  • No fumbles
  • 2 plays with 15+ YAC (can you say bubble screen?)
  • No more than 1 BadReadBadThrow (BRBT) per 15 passes
  • No more than 1 bad blitz pickup miss per 20 attempts (Marcus Sims, this is you)

The Goals for the running game:

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

  • 1 or fewer fumbles
  • 40 yards rushing from Christian

General Offensive Goals

  • 6.25 YPP
  • No more than 3 non-forced offensive penalties (I do not count O-PI here, so we are mainly talking about Personal Fouls, False Starts, Illegal formation, etc)
  • Less than 2 turnovers
  • No more than 1 bad snap (McMahon, please step your game up and play like what a FROSH AA should play like as a Soph)
  • 60%+ Red Zone Touchdowns (Kicking is losing)

n the end, FSU's offense will look good, but not great.  Florida State will have two good drives for TD's, one big play of 40+ yards for a TD, hopefully a bubble screen when we catch State in a blitz, or a "go deep" Ponder loft to Surrency.  We'll also get a safety, and a TD off of a turnover (not necessarily a defensive score).  FSU Rushes for 155 (some being Ponder), and Throws for 270.  In the end, FSU puts up 30 points off of 4 TD's, and a safety, to win 30-16. 

Note 1:  I am very scared to talk about our kick coverage and will be adopting the ostrich approach.

Note 2:  Nigel Bradham has NOT gone into beast mode!  It is absolutely critical that he goes into beast mode, as we are undefeated when he does. 

(for those who do not know, Nigel updates his facebook status, pregame, via his blackberry, changing it to Status: "BEAST MODE!!".  This is quite awesome). 


NOTE 3:  Even though Nigel has not officially gone into Beast Mode, I am going to go ahead with the

Crisis Averted: 

Nigel is in BEAST MODE!!!!! (direct quote). 

"Do Work Son"


NOTE: 4:  The offensive MVP will probably be Ponder, as QB's have ripped NCST to shreds this year. 


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