Tuesday night I was really annoyed at the massive amount of criticism being launched at the Noles for committing penalties. I have always believed that penalties aren't a big deal and often reflect the aggression level of the offending team. Simply put, teams committing penalties usually act in a certain way and get away with a lot of the offending conduct as well. Officials are loath to call a hugely disproportionate amount of penalties on one team. As such, it is beneficial to play more aggressively than your opponent, knowing that the less aggressive team will probably suffer the unfortunate consequence of the ref's subconscious desire to seem fair, and be flagged for less egregious offenses.
If you haven't read Part One, please do so before proceeding.
Part deux after the jump
FSU has drawn 36 penalties against their 3 division 1 opponents this year. I don't know where that ranks nationally, but I do know that is a lot. I also know that FSU plays hyper-aggressive defense, and a fast paced offense, managing an amazing 84 snaps against miami, a ridiculous amount in the era of new clock rules.
I've decided to examine which defensive penalties, if any, the coaching staff should look to discourage.
FSU has been flagged for 15 defensive penalties in those 3 ballgames.
Out of those 15, I am going to take issue with only two.
Myron Rolle was flagged for a late hit out of bounds against Wake Forest. I don't like this penalty because it lacks the intimidation element that the roughing the passer penalty usually has. Often times these guys foolishly contact the offensive player after he is out of bounds. Rarely do they levy huge shots, however, and the refs are probably overly vigilant about calling this in my opinion. This is a somewhat damaging 15-yard foul, and I often associate this with a lack of control. Arguing the flip side, however, many would point out that it is often very difficult to pull up, and there is certainly some benefit to ensuring that a player is actually out of bounds.
User Curtain Jerker weighed in on the late hit out of bounds penalty:
That’s the only penalty I ever get really upset about. Holds happen, PI happens, but there is NO excuse for a late hit after the whistle. It doesn’t "send a message" beyond one that the hitter is a moron.
Also against Wake Forest, we were called for an illegal substitution. This drives me nuts, and is ultimately on the coaching staff. This isn't a bad yardage penalty, but it does result in an automatic first down. The staff usually handles this quite well. Avoiding this penalty is all about preparation, anticipation, and understanding. Coaches must anticipate the most likely scenarios they will face, and have the alternative personnel ready to go in. Rushing them on to the field late can result in a penalty, and even if it does not, they are often out of position when the ball is snapped. Even if they are in the right position, they probably aren't mentally ready after having just sprinted out to their spot and assuming their 3-point stance (or 4-pt in goal line).
That still leaves 13 penalties. The breakdown is as follows:
6 DPI (defensive pass interference)
We all know that Mickey likes to blitz. In the MIami game, he brought 5 or more men (defining a blitz as 5 or more people rushing the QB) on more than 60% of plays. This means that we are playing a lot of man coverage without much help. I've come around to this strategy a bit, because the QB often will have to make an off balance throw as he is being rushed. The downside to this strategy is that once the corner is burned, the result is a touchdown, as he is literally the last line of defense. This penalty is a direct result of our aggressive style. We play physical man coverage, and it is much better to pass interfere than allow a long completion. Why? The college rule mandates that the maximum penalty for PI is 15 yards. If the CB is beaten down field and the potential result is a 45 yard pass, he should interfere, as 15<45. If this happens multiple times, the flag will almost certainly not be thrown every time, and may even result in an interception. A great example of that is the Tony Carter interception against Miami.
This play saved a touchdown. Tony isn't looking at the ball, he is playing the receiver, and definitely contacting him before the pass is thrown. This pass was over 30 yards I believe. I will gladly accept penalties for PI, live to play another down, and sometimes get away with something like the above photo shows. We play aggressive football. I'll start to count these as completed passes next week when i do a feature on our pass defense, and you will see that they don't cause an insane spike in our pass defense rankings. Are these frustrating? Yes. Are they sometimes called incorrectly? Yes. Still, refs won't call this every time, and the times that we do get away with extra clutching and grabbing, good things happen. Referees still do not want to control the game, and they won't call it every time. Let's keep playing questionably legal pass defense and dominating folks.
We've also been flagged for 2 facmeask penalties, one of which was clearly wrong (Markus White v. Wake). These facemask penalties are extremely annoying, but not really preventable. What should you say? "Hey, amazing athlete playing at 100MPH, please be more precise in your tackling?" These things happen, as two fast moving objects sometimes meet up in an unfortunate way.
We've only been flagged for one offsides penalty. This is sort of amazing, as watching the tape every week, we get great jumps on the ball. I'll tolerate these as long as they don't get ridiculous. These are definitely aggression penalties. If we are only called for 50% of early jumps (in actuality, we're called for a lot less), then we're coming out ahead. Good things happen when you're able to jump offsides without being called.
User "evenflow58" has seen the same thing:
Eventually a college QB is going to get start and draw him offsides. Announcers will praise the veteran move by that QB. This will occur soon after Brown has finished planting his QB/RB Forrest in the backfield.
Defensively offsides rarely a bad penalty because you can often get back before the flag is thrown or you guess the snap count correctly and blow up a play (see Everett Brown)
So, yes, it entirely likely that we will be flagged for a few more offsides calls in the future.
Finally, we have the roughing the passer call. (4)
FSU has been hit with this 4 times in 3 games. This seems to be a lot, but we are also hitting the opposing qb late. I'm sure there will be some debate over this one, but I'm okay with it. If we want to play intimidation football, this is a great way to do it. I do get annoyed with the cheap "hands to the qb's head" call, but as long as we hit the QB hard on this penalty, I'm fine with it. QB's often do play scared, and if they're scared, they won't ever get comfortable in the pocket. There is also the chance for injury. Yes, this is unsportsmanlike, and probably unethical, but hitting the quarterback when he is in a vulnerable position can injure him. I'm not advocating injurious intent, but practically, this is a result that benefits the Noles. Further, what if the QB knows that he is likely to be hurt? I really doubt he will play as well if he is worried about injury. He might fail to step into a throw, leave the pass short, and have it picked, all because he is worried about keeping his ribs intact. I've decided that I am willing to live with this one, but only if we make sure they are kill-shots.
User "weasie" agrees, commenting:
I don’t really have a problem with roughing the passer calls as long as we make it worthwhile and are really lighting someone up. In fact, is this not one of the team mantras?
User "jds07" disagrees, writing:
The eight false starts, the delays of game, the roughing the passer calls and a number of other ‘mental mistakes’ serve to highlight the inexperience and carelessness that have to be eradicated before this team can compete consistently at the highest level.
I wonder if he would support roughing the passer penalties if they were all kill-shots?
Here is the chart of all the defensive penalties we've racked up over the 3 games:
|GM||O/ D / ST||Penalty||Yards||Player|
|WF||D||PF (late hit OOB)||15||Rolle|
|UM||D||PF Rough Pass||11||Bradham|
|UC||D||PF Rough Pass||15||Watson|
|UC||D||PF Rough Pass||15||Brown|
|WF||D||PF Rough Pass||15||Brown|
In part 1, User "TrueColors" Wrote