INSIDE: I argue with myself. Hopefully, you'll join the conversation.
Garnet & Golded: 5-1! We are way ahead of expectations at this point. This team is coming together, we're the best in the ACC! We're tied for the ACC lead and should at least make the Orange Bowl! I'll go with Purple Koolaid!
Donald Downer: 2 of our wins are against 1-AA teams. The other 3 are against below average teams. Have we beaten a probable bowl team? Maybe Miami. Colorado and NC State are horrid. FSU's real season starts now. I'll have water.
Garnet & Golded: FSU is 3rd in the Nation in total defense! We're first in 3rd down conversion defense! We are 17th in pass defense! Give me the red stuff!
Donald Downer: I can't argue with that. This is a pretty talented defense. There are a few cracks, however. We aren't even top 50 in Opponent Adjusted Pass Efficiency Defense. That's a concern, as it further underscores our weak schedule to date. Miami's offense is nothing special, Colorado can't score on anyone, and NC State is pathetically bad. We held Wake to 12, true, but they've only scored one TD so far in ACC play.
My concern isn't playing 3rd down pass defense, but rather, forcing opponents to get to 3rd down. Colorado and NC State had success running the football on this team in spurts (as did Miami on their 2nd drive).
Our DT's haven't played especially well against the run, and they are even worse in pass rush. Everette Brown is doubled and sometimes tripled. The DT's are getting single blocked every time, and are not pushing the pocket. Markus White, Neefy Moffett, and Kevin McNiel can best be described as inconsistent.
We're not getting to the QB, registering only a 6.04% Sack Rate, the worst in our last 5 years. Obviously, Jody Allen needed to be fired yesterday, as he's been massively underqualified throughout his entire employment. Please bring back Jim Gladden!
The effort from the DLine is concerning. We have 4 DT's who rotate, as well as 3 DE's not named Brown, and yet they don't consistently appear to give maximum effot. With this kind of veteran depth, we need to have these guys play 100% every play, and then come out when they tire.
Even more concerning from the DLine is the lack of discipline. We play out of control, consistently lose contain, and are often caught out of position. I'm pretty sick of seeing Moffett crash down only to see the back bounce outside for 15.
The LB's have played amazing all season, but they had by far their worst game against NC State. Nicholson was especially poor, as he failed to get off blocks and just appeared to be out of sorts. I have confidence that they will turn that around, however, because they've done it before and are not coached by Jody Allen. These guys need to learn to use their speed to their advantage and take better angles to the football.
This might be the ACC's best defense, but until they fix those issues, they won't be special. Getting Patrick and Jamie Robinson back and fully healthy, in addition to Dekoda Watson and an improving Nigel Bradham could go a long way towards making this a "Nationally Elite Unit." Coffee would be fine. Black.
Garnet & Golded: We're averaging 413 yards and over 35 points in our last 3 games, all away from Doak Campbell. We're #1 in Total offense and scoring offense in the ACC! As a unit, the offensive line has far exceeded expectations. Hudson has played out of his mind, while most other members of the line have faired well in run blocking. The Noles run game has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few seasons. I believe this is a combination of better offensive line coaching, a mobile quarterback, improved blocking by the wide receivers, and having Antone in good health.
Gimme the red stuff!
Donald Downer: Schedule, schedule, schedule. Oh, and film. I really like what Jimbo is doing with our offense. As a member of the "he's a good but not great playcaller" club, I've been very happy with his effort so far. After an iffy game against Wake, he has stepped up and I have to give him an A.
What do I like about his playcalling? So far, he's been able to scheme around our weaknesses. With numbers like that, one might think we have no offensive weaknesses. They would be wrong.
Opposing coaches have to salivate when they think about our offensive line play. Rodney Hudson is a bona fide stud, and everyone knows that. The other interior line positions, however are huge question marks.
Ryan McMahon was a freshman All American last year. He is the worst starter on this team and I do not think it is all that close. McMahon gets destroyed on over half his snaps, consistently put on his back or pushed into the backfield, his poor play destroys our running lanes and kills our angles. I can't fault him for his effort, but he just isn't any good. I really hope we look to the JUCO ranks to find a replacement center, or hope that McMahon gains some strength. I'm not calling Mcmahon a slacker here, but he is consistently getting dominated and his performance is handcuffing our offense.
At the other guard spot is Will Furlong David Spurlock. Furlong injured his foot and was seen on crutches after the game. He is now in a boot. That doesn't sound good for the Va Tech game. Luckily for us, I actually think Spurlock is the better player. While he is 18, and thus makes the youngest offensive line in the Nation even younger, he is bigger. Spurlock also plays with a mean streak. He is closer to the Hudson mold than the McMahon model: meaning that plays really hard and is aggressive. Spurlock has the look of someone who will eventually be a very good player for us. Right now though, it looks as if he doesn't know all of his assignments. That's expected from a guy in his first game. Hudson didn't know all of his last season, and we all know how he has turned out. While I wish Furlong well, I have serious concerns about his ability to ever be a decent player. He has had two offseasons in the program and has not been able to put on the size he needs to be an effective player. Furlong's loss is a blow to the depth chart, but I don't expect a major dropoff in production.
Datko and Sanders, however, at the tackle spots (left and right respectively) are 18 yearolds who are experiencing their ups and downs. I think these guys have decent, but not great technique, considering their age. To compound matters, they are each 20LBS too small, even for a Rick Trickett offensive line. There isn't much we can do about this right now. I have to assume that, unlike RS FR Will Furlong, they will put on weight in the offseason program and keep it on. These two players clearly have potential to eventually be all conference type performers, and we don't really have other options here.
Bowden yelled at the ref's for the holding penalties against the Wolfpack on Thursday night, but they were doing their jobs. FSU was holding on the holding calls, and there several obvious holds that the refs did not call. This isn't something we can immediately correct. Sure, better technique and focus can help, and CRT is certainly capable of schooling these guys, but the majority of these holds occur because we're not very good right now. The alternative to holding may very well be a broken Christian Ponder. I hope we continue to hold, because we will get away with it a good bit of the time.
There is further trouble on the Horizon, however. The fact is that we haven't played very many good defensive fronts yet. Take a look at the best and worst fronts we will face/ have faced (italics).
So, we're about to face 4 defensive fronts that are certainly better than anything we've seen so far. That doesn't bode well for this offense. I think we will continue to use the fast break run offense, utilizing the speed and cut blocking of our linemen, but the dropback passing might take a turn downhill.
These fronts will brutalize McMahon and probably the 3 18-yearolds as well. We won't have much of a pocket to step up in. Expect to see some fumbles as Ponder is hit from the blind side. This could get ugly. We're going to have to win some ugly ballgames, with a lot of clock grinding, running, and punting.
Until next time...