My opening thoughts on FSU's Hokie Knockout

I just got back in.  That was an enjoyable game, and it was great to see my family.  The Seminoles took care of business yesterday, winning an ugly defensive battle 30-20.  We are now #15 in the country, the first place team in the ACC Atlantic Division (Thanks to Miami for wiping Wake).

Protection Issues

I won't pull any punches here.  We were outplayed for the majority of this game.  Anyone who thinks we are a very good team should go back and read the Kool-Aid Debate.  You guys knew this was probably coming.  Here's a sample:

These fronts [the defensive lines in the upcoming games] 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.

Our offensive line play is horrendous.  That is about all I can say.  With the Notable exception of Rodney Hudson, we can't block people with the kind of consistency that is required to win ballgames against good teams.

I've been extremely impressed with Ponder.  I don't really get the happy feet comments.  He has free rushers running full speed at him.  It would be a mistake to stand in the pocket under that type of pressure.  He finished 11-19, for 159, 1 TD, and no Picks.  That's a QB rating of 145  He didn't even throw a ball that was close to being intercepted.  That's the highest QB rating against a non-Duke ACC opponent in the last 2 years. 

Yet, there is a serious problem.  Ponder is taking a beating.  4 sacks on 19 pass attempts is a SEVENTEEN percent sack rate.  That is pathetic.  I like Trickett a lot, and it angers me that the cupboard was left so bare by the previous administration.  It's pretty obvious that our offensive line recruits are not as talented as the young kids at UGA or UF.  If you're going to start young kids, they need to be studs.  We look like we have 6 tight ends playing at once.  These guys looked slow out there, and we can't afford to have waifish linemen play slow. 

We know that Hudson is a stud, that McMahon doesn't have the talent to play D1 ball at a high level, but the great unknown will be answered this offseason.  Can these guys put on weight?  If they turn out to be Furlong types, unable to add muscle and keep it on, we could be in trouble.  It is way too early to make that call, but we can't automatically assume that they will all improve with an offseason, because we've seen one guy not improve, and one guy not be able to get considerably bigger. 

If Even when Ponder gets rid of the ball, he is taking huge kill shots.  Unless the O-Line plays a lot better, we will lose to Ga Tech in embarrassing, inept fashion.  I'm glad that this isn't a national TV game.  Instead of holding penalties, our offensive line put up numbers in a different column: sacks allowed.  I'm so glad that the media emphasizes penalties so much!  Ask yourself this question: 

What would you rather have? 

1st and 20, without a killshot on the quarterback, and no fumble from a blindside hit.

or

2nd and 18, with a killshot on the QB and the possibility of an injury from the blindside hit.

Give me the first and 20.  Please return to the practice of holding.  We've already established that the officials will not call holding on every play, and holding may be the only thing that keeps Christian upright.

OUTPLAYED

Watching this game, I truly believe we were lucky to walk away with the win.  What did we do better than they did?

First Downs: VT- 15, FSU -13

Rushing: VT 82, FSU 89

Passing: VT 161, FSU 159

Net yards per punt: VT 38.6, FSU 38.6

Average starting field position: VT- VT 36, FSU- FSU 36

Possession was within 2 minutes.

Honestly, we won this game because VT had bad fumble luck, because we were at home (and goodness gracious do our Alumni sections suck.  Try making some noise when we are on defense.  Try standing up for an important play.  I'm not saying paint your body, but just give a little effort.), and because we have an NFL kicker, an NFL Defensive End, and because we used our #2 QB by choice, not by force. 

If Glennon stays in that game, I am convinced that we lose something along the lines of 24-17.  They say that winning masks everything.  That is not what this site is about.  If you want to read about how the Noles have an outside shot at the MNC, go read the TC.  Va Tech played better than we did, for the most part.  I'll never turn down a  Seminole win, but I also won't assume that we can get lucky in our coming games, and I will not pretend that we played well.

Over half of our offense came on 3 plays!  That's not a recipe for success.  You can't count on that happening every week.  If Ponder were to get hurt, we would lose every remaining game on our schedule by double digits.

We saw this coming, part 2

I am not angry at our offensive performance, because I expected it.  In The Preview, I wrote:

We will play an ugly game.  Our running game will not perform very well, but we will stick to it, in order to stay out of 3rd and death situations...

FSU ran the ball 38 times, and ran on over half of the 2nd and 8+ downs. 

Our percentage will be pretty bad, but we will hit some big plays.  I really hope Ponder can scramble and throw on the run, as our pass protection will probably not go very well.  I'm not super concerned about turnovers as long as they aren't behind the line of scrimmage.  We need to make sure not to have blindside sacks turn into fumbles, and can't have any bubble screens picked off.

Our percentage was bad (11-19), and most of our success did occur on big plays (87 of Ponder's 159 throwing yards came on 2 plays).  Virginia Tech took away the bubble screens, and made Ponder throw the ball over the middle, and down the field.  He didn't have any dangerous throws. 

Some awesome quotes:

Discussing a question regarding punishing Tyrod Taylor, FSU Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews said (paraphrasing here):
...you never want to hurt anybody, but our kids understand that if a guy wants to take himself out of a ballgame that is his business. You have got to hit him, you have got to inflict some pressure on him with contact for that to happen....

"Getting to the quarterback and not just getting him on the ground, but putting him out -- that's what Florida State defense is all about"_ Everette Brown

I'm not going to root for an injury, but I am fully in favor of intimidating opposing teams.

 

Tomahawk Nation Members Speak Out

FSUed has been all over TNation recently, so we will start with him. 

Glennon has that look that says "I’m not going to let this opportunity get away from me." Wouldn’t be surprised to see him lead a game-winning drive in this game.

Our O-line is every bit as over matched as I feared.

We MUST take a shot deep to loosen up their D — even if it’s a max protect, two guys in the route play.

Where is the bubble screen (or ANY screens), I know they are zone blitzing on third down, but we could run it on first or second down.

Despite a gameplan that was tailored for Taylor, not Glennon, the Hokies drove the ball on us with Glennon in the game.  Ed sensed it.  Also, good call on the deep shots (they'd happen soon after he typed that). 

1) This is the first game I didn’t see real improvement by Ponder. He held the ball too long, didn’t runwith good vision, got happy feet too early. He really seemed to be playing scared — trying to NOT make a bad play. Of course, that could be the reason we won the game, but I don’t know. Not a step forward for Ponder.

2) Of course, part of the problem is that our O-Line continue to be overmatched. When we run left, we have a chance, but otherwise, no push, poor protection, we don’t pick up the blitz very well (the one play when A. Smith gave the blitzer a good shot was telling — he jolted him, then just released him rather than sustaining the block. I think we could be called for holding EVERY PLAY — yes, that may be true of all O-lines, but it’s especially true of ours.

3) Defense was as good in the second half as it was lousy in the first — less than 50 yards offense. I do think that the Taylor injury actually worked against us — when you spend the week scheming for an offense you don’t end up seeing, it has to throw you off.

4) Was surprised by Jimbo’s scheme — where was the option? The zone read? (saw it just a couple times and only once did Ponder keep it). Screens? Reverses? It seems to me that’s how you protect a weak O-line, lots of misdirection. Slow them down.

5) It was nice to see Thacker make a play.

6) Brown is — as my 10 year old would say — a beast.

7) Wish we take a few shots deep EARLY in the game to loosen up the defense.

8) Very disturbing to see how poorly we defended the option with Ga. Tech up next.

I'll respond in numerical fashion

1.  I have to disagree.  Jimbo wants Christian to read coverage, but he is under such pressure (some of the worst OLine play I've ever seen, and most of it is related to physical ability and inexperience.), and he simply cannot set his feet.  Ponder will probably get hurt at some point.  I think he took a step forward by throwing the ball down the field well, and by not making any dangerous throws.  Undoubtedly, he realized that playing conservative ball could win this game.  I expected a low percentage performance, but decent results, and he produced big time.  He was late diagnosing some stuff, but let's see #2 for a reason why he may have had divided attention.

Bobby said "this is the first QB since Weinke that a team would rally around."

2.  Bingo.  I wrote about this in the opening section

3.  Probably so.  Poor personnel use on the big pass play though.  Why is Garvin in against a 2WR set?

4.  I'll reserve judgment on this, for now, until I watch film, but I did want to see more of that.

5.  Nod.

6.  Brown is the best defensive player we have had in a long time.  Check out this quote:

"That was the most one-on-one blocking I've faced all year and Virginia Tech did a lot of things to try to prevent it without double-teaming me so they could use all their guys on offense. 

It seems that Virginia Tech is not a TNation reader.  If they were, they would realize that you need to block Brown with at least 2 men, and preferably a Guard and Tackle.  Dumb Hokies.

7.  Spot on.  Let's go early.  Ponder did show the arm to make the deep throw, and teams will have to prep for it. 

8.  We should not be favored against GTech.  I'll speak of this more later.

 

TrueCubbie and Renegade11 were unhappy with the first half playcalling,

Also, thanks to Renegade11 for providing updates.

EVERYYONE is in love with Gano.  I can't really disagree here.

TrueCubbie was pretty prophetic with this gem at the half:

...take some shots down the field on 1st down.  We can make plays in single coverage. and keep the pressure on Glennon. Their tackles are starting to look outmatched as well.

The bomb to Carr was on first down, and Everette Brown showed his first round pick status. 

ALL Members (including Robbrt, CJ, and Truecolors) voiced questions about our defensive playcalling, while wondering how much of it was related to the changing QB's.  They all will take the win as well.

NacFSU:

We played OK today, but I think we were lucky that Verdell knocked Taylor out so early. We didn’t do well against the run when they got outside. It would be nice if we could string together 2 good halves of football.

I'm glad we're improving in the second half, as it shows good coaching.  GT might shred us.

Mongo314:

Offensively, we improved after a horrible 1st quarter, but the O-line just wasn’t very good. It will be hard to keep winning when defenders seem to run right through them with ease. It would be nice if the running game had a little more consistency. It seems like we either get negative yards or more than 5 yards.

Yeah, a feast or famine running game isn't ideal.  The offensive line is pretty atrocious, but we expected that going into this game.

PewterPirate55

I think GA Tech might have been bitten a little while looking ahead to FSU. I am sure they will come out next week loaded for bear. After the last few years I am finally beginning to see their stock rising and younger talent is finally maturing.

One question … Do you think if Jimbo goes to Head Coach over the off season that Tommy Bowden could be the new offensive coordinator? This could tremendously help out recruiting if so. Tommy and Jimbo both recruiting would pull in a lot of quality recruits.

GT was probably looking ahead.  UVA runs a 3-4 as well, which is a different look to go against. 

As for the Tommy question, I'm not sure.  My gut says no way.  I don't think the Admin wants to through Bowden drama once Bobby leaves.  That's not a shot, but some people are tired of it.

I really love ZEST's take:

It seemed to me like Ponder was scrambling for his life on every single passing play. I don’t think that means the O-line played "okay" in pass blocking situations. It tells me they were absolutely horrible. For the most part, I feel like the RB’s and WR’s played pretty well, and Ponder played well considering he was rolling out of the pocket literally every passing play. The OL is showing signs of their youth, and having Furlong out didn’t help the matter. They’ll get better, I just hope it happens quickly.

D showed flashes of being awesome and let up on a few plays. Overall, I thought they played a good game.

Graham Gano is the best and most important player on the team. I almost threw up when they said he hurt himself during pregame kicking drills.

I think I agree with the whole thing. 

TurfToe echoed a lot of thoughts that we've all head, but pay attention to his remark at the end:

We needed that one. The D line looked really good. Brown is a freekin beast. The inexperience of the O-line really showed in this game. Its good that they got some experience facing a pretty decent D-line. I would have like to see more balls thrown down field instead of throwning in the backfield againsts that type of D. O-line needs to keep improving and special teams needs some work. I really liked how the noles took advantage after the personal foul agains Gano. I wonder why they didnt use Garvin that much in the return game. Parker needs to grow his hair back so he get get back into his groove. Awsome catch by Easterling in the enzone! Him and Carr really have stepped up their games. Ill be at the game next week and I cant wait to taunt the student section! It looked like it was going to be a meaningfull game until GT lost, homecoming no less. Hopefully half the statium will be filled with Nole fans. Cant wait!

Interesting...

User Weasie:

I can’t really tell if finally being on everyone’s radar screens helps or hurts us. I will say that I was very happy to see the reemergence of the deep threat.

Someone else was excited to see the deep threat:

http://www.tomahawknation.com/2008/10/21/639967/what-has-happened-to-going

That's it for now.  More to come throughout the week.  I need to watch the tape.

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