Noles by the Numbers: FSU's defense owns the Hurricane offense

39 points don't tell the whole story.  They don't show how Mickey Andrews called one of his best games in recent memory.  They don't reveal how the Seminole defensive line consistently knocked the Hurricane beef off the ball.  Looking only at 39 points, you wouldn't know that the 'Noles defense played out of their minds in rainy Miami.  


The first key to good defense is to win first down.

In the Tomahawk Nation defensive preview, I set out some goals for the FSU defense

Keep Miami in 2nd and long: 33% of First Down Rushes for 1 or fewer yards.  (The STUFFED %)

Miami had 8 official first down "rushes."  Three were non traditional-- the reverse, a run by Harriss, and the pass to the Tackle Jason Fox.  Since I don't count sacks here, as they tend to skew things, I'm also knocking out the screen pass and the QB scramble.  Out of the remaining 6 first down rushes, FSU stuffed two.  That's 33%, which is fine by me against an offense like this. 

Miami faced 2nd and Long (9+) on 13 of 18 2nd downs!  The Canes couldn't set themselves up to be in a winning position.  It was as if instead of getting ahead of the chains, the Canes were being chained to the original line of scrimmage.

Take good angles to the football: No more than 2 runs over 15 yards and no runs over 35 yards. 

No rushing TD's in the red zone.  Make Miami throw the ball.

For the most part, FSU did this really well.  The Benjamin TD on the end around was because Markus White lost contain.  Still, on a rain soaked field, I'm pretty happy with the results here.  Miami had ZERO rushes over 20 yards, much less 35.  FSU allowed only one rush over 15 yards (the Benjamin TD).  I won't tell you that nontraditional running plays don't count.  They do count.  My point is that I would rather be gashed on a gadget than gashed on a traditional play where a man was just beaten physically.  It's hard to correct a whooping', much easier to guard against a gadget play you've seen before.  

Don't have your good work go for naught: 2 or fewer draws of 3rd and 8 or Longer for first downs.

Miami didn't run any draws on 3rd and 8+, but they did run two screen type plays, both to Cooper, netting -2 yards.  Domination.


Goals that I have trouble evaluating

Use penetration to get stops: 40% Win Rate on 3rd+ 4th n short rushing

Believe it or not, Miami didn't try to run for anything inside of 3rd/ 4th and 4 or shorter.  Their only attempt was a fake punt, which I refuse to put on Mickey's defense.  Jody Allen's job can't be too secure at this point.  Nole fans must hope that Fisher is taking note.

Play Inside-Out:  Cooper isn't much of an inside runner, and he does want to go outside.  Make him one dimensional, and then use that 'Nole speed to deny him the corner.

Cooper gashed the 'Noles on one drive but the 'Noles soon corrected and after that the Canes didn't seem committed to running the ball. 


Goals I can't evaluate:

Tackle Well: Less than 10 missed tackles (A Mickey Andrews Goal)

This is something I listen for in the press conference.

Continue Reading for Pass Defense Evaluation...

Pass Defense

No good day: Marve under a QB Rating of 110 overall.

Check.  Miami QB's turned in a rating of 62.99, going 20-48 for 154 yards, good for 3.2 yards per throw.  That is complete domination. They also tossed 3 interceptions. NOTE 1:  I am giving Marve credit for the throw to Fox.  That was not a run.  NOTE:2 These stats do not include passes by non-quarterbacks.  

Pass interference seems to be a big part of Mickey's defense, and the man is an absolute genius for teaching his team to take advantage of the college rules in this way.  FSU committed two Pass Interference penalties in this game, for 11 and 15 yards, though in fairness, the ref crew could have called 3.  I like to include the PI calls as completions, to get a better feel for the QB's performance.

Miami QB #'s, including PI calls:  22-50, 180 Yards, 3.6 Yards Per Throw, 1 TD, 3 Int.  Adjusted QB Rating: 68.44  The media will continue to harp on penalties, FSU will continue to use some rules to their advantage, I will continue to say that penalties have a minimal impact on the game, we will discuss this at length this week, and nothing will change.  What matters, however, is that FSU played excellent pass defense. 


Limit Big Plays:  no more than 4 pass plays of 15+ yards

FSU Allowed 5.  I still think this is pretty good.  My goal was based on the idea that Miami would be a lot more balanced in their playcalling.  the goal of 4 was proper if Miami threw the ball 28-33 times.  Adjusting up to 51 tosses, I'd allow for 6-7 15+ yard tosses, a goal FSU was well within.  Remind me to do use more ratios in the future.  The 15+ Yard plays were:

15 Yard Pass Interference- smart play to not allow the big gain.

18 Yard Catch

27 Yard Catch-- 10-12 yarder with a run after a missed tackle. 

20 Yard Catch

51 Yard Catch on the HB pass.

All in all, if only 1 in ten throws is going for 15+ yards,I'll be pretty happy.


Selective Pass Interference: do not give up the deep ball.  If they do throw it, interfere like crazy. 

"Penalties are bad, undisciplined, etc., etc."  FSU did a really good job of this.  They won't call pass interference every time.  The only BOMB came on the HB pass, and TC didn't have an opportunity to interfere.


Hit Marve: Play to the echo of the whistle.  Have a sack rate (sacks / (pass plays + sacks)) of 7.5% or more.

Did we ever hit him!  Nole defenders got a clean shot on the Miami QB on over half of the pass play!  FSU only tallied 2 sacks, officially, for a sack rate of  3.7% (2/(51+2)).  The pressure was so intense, however, thet Marve never had time to throw.  The truth is in his 3.2 yards per toss. 



Not a sack.  Not a good pass either. 


Be studs on 3rd down: make the tackle when they throw underneath and don't allow them to get the 3rd down.  Limit Marve to double digit QB rating on 3rd down.

2-15.  Two of 15.  Miami converted TWO of Fifteen 3rd downs!  Two! 

Dekoda_watson_covers_a_wide_receiver__miami_medium FSU hurried Marve and still played tight coverage.  Every time the Cane receivers caught a ball, they were quickly tackles.

Additionally, Florida State BATTED 3 BALLS!  Way to get the hands up guys!


I've griped about Florida State blitzing with their heads down for a long time now.  I didn't see any of that in this game.  We blitzed alertly, and got our hands up to make Marve's day a nightmare.  His throwing lanes were warped all day.


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. 

Miami didn't do this at all, mostly because they weren't in the position to be in short yardage.  I guess I'll throw the HB pass in here.


Confuse Marve.  Mix the coverages enough to confuse the redshirt freshman.  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.

Did they ever!  This was probably Mickey's best called game of the decade.  Our guys timed their blitzes perfectly, and worked in concert with the blitz, not allowing him to take the easy hot route.  FSU's speed + high degree of difficulty throws= offensive failure.  Timing was the key here.  Several times FSU went through the line (not around) completely untouched.  

I also want to point out that because Bradham and Watson are such excellent pass rushers, Mickey is now incorporating the zone blitz.  We got 2 stops with this yesterday, including one that Everette needed to take to the house to ice the game.  This will undoubtedly be used against UF.  Bravo Mickey Andrews!


Create 2 turnovers.

3 Interceptions should do the trick.  I will say that Tony Carter's interception could have been pass interference.  This photo shows he wasn't playing the ball.  Still though, even if it was called PI, it would be the right move to interfere on a near 40-yard TD.


Yes, he picked that ball.  Yes, it could have been PI.  Yes, we will take this sort of aggressive play by the DB's.

This isn't a category, but the Secondary played great!  Playing without their best member, Patrick Robinson (sidelined with injury), these guys understood what they needed to do on every play.  They denied inside position when the Noles blitzed.  They constantly stuck with Miami's speed.  Miami's wideouts aren't anything special, but credit the Noles nonetheless.  Special praise goes to Myron Rolle, who played out of his mind even with a leg injury, and Korey Mangum, who filled in admirably for PRob and played solidly, not allowing any huge plays, and filling in nicely in run support.

The Linebackers played pretty well.  I was so jazzed by Mickey's use of personnel.  Watson isn't great in coverage but used to be a defensive end?  Blitz him.  Ingram had a quiet night stats wise, but he showed his former FS skills in coverage.  The backers flew around the field, and did everything we expected of them.  Nicholson was again a monster in the middle, and showed shocking speed to stick with Graig Cooper all night.  Note: Toddrick Verdell didn't start because of his Groin Injury.  Note:  Bradham got his first start (Verdell's spot).  Bradham is the 2nd True Frosh to start for Mickey's crew this year (DT Moses McCray is the other).

The defensive line played great as well.  At a serious size disadvantage, they were determined to get off the ball quickly, and they did.  Everette Brown embarrassed Miami LT on one play, Moffett consistently ate Miami's backup RT's lunch, and the DT rotation of Thacker, Griffin, Mincey, and Stewart all gave a great effort, displaying the consistent motor that makes these guys such a pain to block. 


Overall Defensive Goals

No Plays of 45+ Yards.  I doubt Miami can repeatedly drive on this team.  Let's make them try. 

They had one, and it was a trick play.  Miami didn't drive the ball all game.  On the last drive, FSU did allow them to take the ball 78 yards, but it took 15 plays and almost 4 minutes, leaving Miami virtually no chance to get the 2 scores they needed. 

10 "Stops" Mickey defines a stop as a turnover, punt, or a surrender on downs.  That's fine by me. 

The Noles got 7, but this is way skewed because Miami scored on a defensive TD and these drive starts aren't eligible for a punt, especially considering that Miami was down by 10+ most of this game: FLST 4, 50, FLST 25, FLST 18. 

Less than 50% Red Zone TD Scoring

5 Trips, 2 TD's, that's 40%, well within the goal. 

No scores off sudden change (make Miami get a first down off a turnover.  Do not allow the home run after a turnover)

Bad bad bad!!!  Miami had 14 points off sudden change (Benjamin's run on the end around and the HB Pass).  You know Miami cannot move the ball, you know they're looking to hit the home run.  That was depressing.

Hold Miami under 325 Yards.  Mickey's goal is 300, but honestly, that might not be realistic.

Mickey's goal was plenty realistic as the Noles held the Canes to 256 yards, a phenomenal effort. 

All Photos in the story are from Corey Sears of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Please visit his whole photo page, as it is excellent


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