The Seminole Report Card: FSU 41, Clemson 27 (UPDATED)

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In this piece, I examine our predictions and pre-game thoughts.  What did we nail, what did we miss,... and what can we learn from this?

Now updated with the Offensive side of the ball.

I'll have the "Inside the Seminole Film Room" up sometime today. 

For now, make sure to Post your questions for our BC expert.

These reviews are taken from The Preview and The Conversation.


Strategy Musings

18 Turnovers in 6 games is sloppiness and bad luck.  We saw that turnovers are often a product of bad luck when we faced Georgia Tech, who has similarly been plagued by turnovers.  We cannot rely on Clemson turning the ball over.  We each had 2 turnovers.  Turnovers did not win or lose this game. 

Excuse me if this is simplistic, but Clemson's offensive line sucksCheck

I'm not going to talk about C.J. Spiller very much in this space.  I know that we are scheming to stop him, and as you'll see, his line doesn't block for him.  He is an NFL back, and we have to control him.  We won't shut him down completely.  Spiller finished with 121 yards on 16 touches, 44 coming on the screen play in the first quarter.  I think we did a good job of executing the "let Spiller get his within reason, and take everything else away." strategy.

How should we exploit this weakness [Clemson's offensive line]?  BY NOT BLITZING CRAZILY.  The offensive line doesn't move people off the ball at all.  They have been handled by some good defensive lines; notably GTech, Alabama, and Wake Forest).  Florida State's defensive line hasn't drawn much praise around here as of late, but they are still a good defensive line capable of winning this battle without help from the blitzers.  Hmm... 6 sacks and numerous pressures, hurries, and knockdowns... all from the defensive line.  Chhhecck.

Clemson cannot sustain drives because they are sloppy, poorly coached, undisciplined, not in sync, and imprecise.  Oh, they also don't run the ball and win  the battle of first down.  Clemson had drives of (play-Yards): 5-80, 9-52, 10-52, and 11-97.  As for the 1st down stuff... Clemson faced unfavorable situations in 75% of 2nd and 3rd downs.

Let's hope that Mickey doesn't dare Cullen to beat single coverage deepGood job Mickey and the Defense Staff!

Aaron Kelley is 6'5 and really good.  That said, I'm okay with Patrick Robinson playing him man-up, as long as we occasionally flash deep help his way.  Robinson is a very good cover corner, and Kelly is a lazy route runner with a lot of physical talent.  Kelley finished with 5 catches for 49 yards.  Considering that CU doesn't spread the ball that much, that isn't horrible.  He also blatantly interfered on one catch.

Their TE is a complete non-factorDamn!  He had a nice catch for a TD, and another catch.  2 for 16 yards.  Not a gashing.

If we allow big plays on screens to Spiller or big plays to Ford this Saturday, you should be angry.  1 big screen, but other than that... nice job. 

BC was incapable of generating pressure without a blitz, specifically off the edge.  Florida State doesn't have this same problem, since we have that Everette Brown guy.  There should be NO REASON TO BLITZ 6.  IF YOU WANT TO SEND WATSON OFF THE EDGE AND HAVE THE FS IN DEEP MIDDLE THAT IS FINE.  Please though, none of the crazy stuff.  Everette Brown is a beast.  EB has another bad offensive tackle to feast on!  I'm not sure if Clemson will help on EB, but considering their TE sucks, they probably should3 sacks, at least 3 pressures, a monster of a game.  Clemson... you can't throw to a 4th option if you only have time to view 2.  He must be doubleteamed on every play.

My hopes are that we see a lot of Watson and Verdell in this game.  I love Nicholson, but I'm not sure his skillset works here.  Watson and Verdell's speed should be a huge benefit.  We need to make Harper throw accurately in the short and intermediate levels.  This may be the one I am most proud of.  Watson led the team in tackles, and Verdell was 4th. 

Defensive Goals

  • Keep Clempzun in 2nd and long: 33% of First Down Rushes for 2 or fewer yards.  (The STUFFED %).  50% is a win here (9/18).
  • Use penetration to get stops: 40% Win Rate on 3rd+ 4th n short rushing.  Clemson did not have a 3rd and short attempt.
  • Don't have your good work go for naught: 1 or fewer draws of 3rd and 8 or Longer for first downs.  This is big! Excellent work here, as we stopped all draw plays well short of the first down.
  • No rushing TD's in the red zone.  Make Harper throw the ball accurately in tight spaces.  Honestly, this was fine, as a run would take time off the clock (their rush TD occured with little time left).
  • Take good angles to the football: No more than 4 runs over 15 yards and less than 2 runs over 35 yards.  None went for 35, 2 went over 20, but they had 6 over 10. 
  • Harper under a QB Rating of 115 overall. (120 is about 18 completions in 30 attempts for 200 yards; 1 touchdowns and 1 interceptions.)  Harper had a good day throwing... when he did throw, but his performance is slightly overrated due to the screen pass. 
  • Limit Big Plays:  no more than 5 passes of 15+ yards, and nothing over 40.  See next goal.  Ugh.  Bad.  A 44 yard TD, and 8 throws of 15+ yards. 
  • Hit Harper: Play to the echo of the whistle.  Have a sack rate (sacks / (pass plays + sacks)) of 10% or more. (27 pass attempts and 3 sacks, so 3/30).  As Mickey said... "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...."   6 sacks, 35 throws.  (6/41)= 15%. 
  • Be studs on 3rd and long: make the tackle when they throw underneath and don't allow them to get the 3rd down.  Limit Harper to a double digit QB rating on 3rd down and 7+.  This was excellent.  100% success.  11 for 11.  Domination.  Bring pressure, force quick throw, tackle. 
  • 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.  No short yardage downs.
  • Create 2 turnovers.  Check.
  • LESS THAN 4.75 YPP.  316 on 71 plays is 4.5 per play.  That's not terrible.
  • No Plays of 50+ Yards.  I doubt CU can repeatedly drive on this team.  Let's make them try.  Pass, but barely.
  • 10 "Stops" Mickey defines a stop as a turnover, punt, or a surrender on downs.  That's fine by me.  We got 9 of 13.
  • Less than 50% Red Zone TD Scoring.  They scored 66% redzone tds, however, a field goal would be useless in the endgame.
  • No scores off sudden change (make CU get a first down off a turnover.  Do not allow the home run immediately after a turnover).  FAIL.  Muffed punt, 2 plays later... TD.
  • Hold CU under 300 yards.  Mickey's goal is 300, but CU is a bit better than their record.  316.  You be the judge.

Defense Prediction

FSU will not get killed by big plays, but will give up some.  Clemson will foolishly abandon the run as they've done all year.  As you'll see when I write it later, Clemson won't have many plays to work with.  CU will rush 27  times (including sacks)  for 100 yards, and will throw 30 times for 200 yards.  They'll hit one play of 45+ yards, and score at TD.  They'll get a fg off of their lone decent DRIVE of the game.  They snag a field goal on a short field, and somehow get two more as well, for a total of 19 points.  Expect big days from Watson solid play from the corners.

Clemson had 1 play over 40 yards (44), 5 of 20+, and 16 plays of 10+ yards.  That's not good.  They did abandon the run as the game wore on: 24 first half runs, 12 second half runs.  Clemson had 73 plays to work with, largely because of FSU's 2 huge special teams miscues, which immediately gave CU 12 more plays.

If you look at the game [Georgia Tech] as a defensive aberration, then there is reason for great optimism Saturday.  Fsued






On offense, look for FSU to go on LONG drives.  I see a lot of really, really long drives, holding the ball, dominating the clock, and frustrating Clemson.  Running short on time here.  Not a ton of big plays.  FSU had the ball 11 times.  They had 5 drives of at least 7 plays and 50+ yards.  As for dominating the clock?... not so much. 

The running game will be all about balance.  Expect us to exploit Clemson's considerable speed by using a lot of the zone read, but more importantly, by having Jermaine and Antone gashing Clemson on cutbacks.  I predict an awesome cutback run of 45+ yards by one of those guys.  Clemson will overpursue, so end-arounds, reverses, and trick plays are all in play.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Cutbacks?  Check.  End Arounds, reverses?  Check.

Clemson's pass defense is 75th in the nation in OPAED, which isn't great, but isn't as bad as some we've faced. 

They will take away the easy stuff, but I do think we can throw the screens (and we should even if they aren't effective-- to slow CU down.) 

Their corners are also short, so I expect to see us take some shots to Carr and Surrency. 

Parker seems to be coming into his own as well, and could have a decent day. He might be our best offensive player-- still. 

CU will struggle with the Carr quarmire-- whether to guard the jump ball or play aggressively against the bubble.  I still expect them to give us the difficult throws if we can hit them (deep outs and in's,  skinny posts on a rope, etc).

So, the goals for the FSU running game?

  • 45% of carries by FSU RB's on First down go for 3 or more yards (win first down).  This seems like a strange goal, but it is all about staying out of 3rd and long.  I know this number seems low, but I'm trying to set realistic goals here..  63%... very good.
  • 60% conversions running on 3rd/ 4th & 2 or less.  1-1  is 100%
  • 1 or fewer fumbles (Not fumbles lost, but Fumbles).  Pass.  TC doesn't count here.
  • 40 yards rushing from Christian.  This does not count sacks.  I will parse our the sacks.  46 yards works.

The goals for the Passing Game?

  • QB Rating of 120+   Clearly, we're not a high completion % pass game, but Jimbo has stated that he doesn't care about that.  Low completion % but big plays are fine by me.  A rating of 125 is roughly 15 completions in 27 attempts for 205 yards; 1 touchdowns and 1 interceptions.  Didn't happen.  Now, I did guess exactly how many passes we would throw, but we didn't hit deep balls.  Not going to get th QB rating up without yardage.  Still though, he was 16-27, and I predicted 15-27.  Pretty close there.
  • Special Sack Rate  (sacks + Holdings on dropbacks / sacks + pass attempts + holding on dropbacks) of less than 14%.  Yes, 14%.  That isn't a typo.  If we have 30 pass plays, we must not allow more than 4 combined holding penalties and sacks.  Obviously, I would prefer 4 holdings and zero sacks, as we don't risk injury or fumbles with the holding, and as we all know, the team that commits more penalties usually wins the game.  it's true.  2 Sacks and 27 passes.  No Holds.  That's 7%.  Credit the line for tightening up after a brutal opening series nad credit Jimbo for limiting the exposure via rollout, short route, and screen.
  • 7 Yards per Attempt. NO, didn't happen.

General Offensive Goals

  • 5.3 YPP(Yards Per Play).  66 Plays at 5.5 YPP = 365 yards.  6.7 is great. 
  • No Personal Fouls (except clipping, I'm fine with that here).  I know that the team committing more penalties usually wins the game, but these are non-aggression penalties.  Smart.
  • Less than 2 turnovers.  Hooray!  Only 1 turnover.
  • 60%+ Red Zone Touchdowns (Kicking is losing).  We've done a decent job of this this year.  3 for 5 is 60% on the nose.

So, what will happen?

With CU putting up 19 points, FSU will need 20+, and they will get it. 

FSU runs 39 times (including sacks) for 160 yards (not a great average, but it includes sacks) ,36 times for 266 is sick.

and throws 27 times for 200 yards. 

We will probably commit 2 turnovers, but hopefully they are not costly.  I think we hold the ball for more than 33 Minutes, while getting 2 td's and 4 field goals, as CU gives up some yardage but not huge points.   Despite the low sack totals, CU's DLine is very talented, as is their secondary.  None of their LB's would make our ROSTER, however, and we will eventually exploit that advantage.

Gano will make us forget about the kick coverage woes.


Did this game go how you envisioned?

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