Previewing The Florida State Seminoles @ The Maryland Terrapins

After a brutal loss on national television, the Seminoles travel to Byrd stadium; where Florida State has not won since 2002.  The mercury will be in the low 30's when the 'Noles take the field at 7:45, Saturday night. 

This game is available to the entire nation.  No coverage map needed.  Our announcers are Ron Franklin (play-by-play), Ed Cunningham (analyst), Jack Arute (sideline).  This is a once excellent crew that is still pretty good as Cunningham assists Franklin. 

The monster preview... inside

Flip A Coin

Huh?  Grab a quarter.  Flip it 3 times.  Can you get heads 3 times in a row?  That's our chance of getting to the ACC-CG.  Really.  3 coin flip games. 

1. Boston College defeats Wake Forest (11/22 - 3:30) (FLIP 1)
2. Florida State defeats Maryland (11/22 - 7:45) (FLIP 2)
3. Maryland defeats Boston College (11/29) (FLIP 3)

Okay, so it's not exactly a triple coin flip; it's a bit less.  We have roughly an 11% chance of making it

 

Andrew Carter says No charges will come today!

Injuries of Note

Maryland had injuries in their secondary, and they might be without Hybrid linebacker Rick Costa, who punched a cop 2 weeks ago.  If Costa is out, that helps.

For FSU, LT Datko is banged with an elbow.  Don't be surprised to see him as a scratch.  FS McClure is done with a knee injury.  Jermaine Thomas still has some turf toe issues, but I think he can go.  Myron will miss at least the first half of this game.

OUT: OL Will Furlong (foot), DB Mister Alexander (knee), WR Richard Goodman (knee), DT Toshmon Stevens (calf tear), DB Darius McClure (left knee) and DE Kevin McNeil (wrist).

PROBABLE: LB Maurice Harris (ankle).

 

When the Noles have the ball

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Last week the offense moved the ball slightly below their ACC average, gaining 5.1 yards per play.  Coming into the game, they were averaging roughly 5.4 yards per play.  The turnovers hurt for sure, as the depleted offense ended 3 drives in interceptions. 

This week, I look for a bounce back of sorts as FSU has a full compliment of receivers.

The key to this game, however, might be time of possession.  I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.  In Maryland's 4 ACC wins, they've won time of possession by an average of 3 minutes.  In their 2 ACC losses, they've lost time of possession by an average of 13 minutes. 

Let's take a look at Maryland's ACC ONLY DEFENSE and FSU's ACC ONLY OFFENSE

Total Off. Rushing Passing
Opponent Pts Plays Yds YPP No Gain Att Comp % Yds YPA Int
Wake Forest(3-12) 3 64 220 3.4 28 110 36 12 33% 118 3.3 5
at Miami (Fla.)(41-39) 41 84 469 5.6 53 346 31 14 45% 159 5.1 2
at North Carolina St.(26-17) 26 80 392 4.9 45 190 35 23 66% 254 7.3 0
Virginia Tech(30-20) 30 57 248 4.4 38 143 19 11 58% 159 8.4 0
at Georgia Tech(28-31) 28 65 384 5.9 36 234 29 17 59% 188 6.5 1
Clemson(41-27) 41 63 419 6.7 36 294 27 16 59% 153 5.7 1
Boston College(17-27) 17 56 285 5.1 24 107 30 16 53% 212 7.1 3
27 67 345 5.2 37 203 30 16 53% 178 6.0 2

 

Maryland's ACC Defense

Total Off. Rushing Passing
Opponent Pts Plays Yds YPP No Net TFL Att Comp % Yds YPA Int Sacks SackRate
at Clemson(20-17) 17 63 372 5.9 41 221 5 22 15 68% 151 6.9 1 1 4%
at Virginia(0-31) 31 75 427 5.7 41 201 2 34 25 74% 226 6.6 0 1 3%
Wake Forest(26-0) 0 65 219 3.4 33 73 9 32 15 47% 146 4.6 0 5 14%
North Carolina St.(27-24) 24 71 342 4.8 42 155 5 29 18 62% 187 6.4 0 3 9%
at Virginia Tech(13-23) 23 72 400 5.6 51 273 7 21 14 67% 127 6.0 0 3 13%
North Carolina(17-15) 15 51 285 5.6 26 75 5 25 11 44% 210 8.4 1 3 11%
18 66 341 5.2 39 166 6 27 16 60% 175 6.4 3 9%

There, now that we have a clearer picture...

We are going to run the ball a lot.  Even though Maryland has a below average secondary and very few interceptions, they have been vulnerable to the run against good running teams.  Clemson, UVA, and Va Tech all went for over 200 yards on the ground against Maryland.  NC State went for 15.  UNC  got shut down, however they played in conditions that made the Miami-FSU game look dry and Maryland loaded the box with 9 and sometimes 10 men. 

We want to run the ball a bunch in this game, control the clock, and pick our spots to throw.

So, the reasonable Goals?

  • Run at least 65 plays.
  • At least 5.3 yards per play.
  • LEVERAGE: Less than 33% of total offensive plays occur in passing downs.
  • 50% success rate on 1st down (gaining half of necessary yardage, so 5 yards on 1st n 10)
  • 50% success rate on 2nd down (gaining 65% or more of necessary yardage)
  • 55% success rate on 2nd down non passing situations (7 to gain or less)
  • 40% success rate on 2nd down passing situations (8+)
  • 50% success rate on 3rd & 4th down
  • 65% success rate on 3rd/ 4th non passing downs (4 to gain or less)
  • 35% success rate on 3rd/ 4th down passing downs (5+ to gain)
  • 75% non-stuffed rate (gaining 2+ yards on 1st down runs and 1/3rd or more of the necessary yardage on 2/3/4th downs) on designed running plays.
  • No more than 1 fumble per 25 carries.
  • Go for 4th down in all appropriate situations
  • Less than .33 drooped passes per 7 throws (works out to 2 or less per 28 throws)
  • 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 121 is roughly 16 completions in 28 attempts for 200 yards; 1 touchdowns and 1 interceptions.
  • No careless throws into the flat.  This is big, since these almost always go for a Pick-6. 
  • Special Sack Rate  (sacks + Holdings on dropbacks / sacks + pass attempts + holding on dropbacks) of less than 11%.  Yes, 11%.  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.  Maryland rushes the passer pretty well, and we need to use the pass in situations that are advantageous to us. 
  • 7 Yards per Attempt.
  • 2 plays with 15+ YAC
  • No more than 1 BadReadBadThrow (BRBT) per 9 passes.  This is very important if they play zone. 
  • No more than 1 bad blitz pickup miss per 15 attempts (Marcus Sims, this is you).  Maryland blitzes in weird ways and from weird looks with their 3-4 scheme.
  • 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. 
  • No more than 2 turnovers
  • No more than 1 bad snap (McMahon, please step your game up and play like what a FROSH AA should play like as a Soph)
  • 60%+ Red Zone Touchdowns (Kicking is losing).  We've done a decent job of this this year.

Maryland's defense isn't incredibly impressive.  They're 66th in FEI defense rankings, and 81st in pass efficiency defense ratings (opponent adjusted).  I expect FSU to run 40 running plays for 180 yards, have 4 QB scrambles for 32 yards, and 3 sacks for a loss of 24 yards.  That's 188 yards on the ground on 47 "running plays".  I think Ponder will get off 22 passes, complete 12, for 160 yards.  FSU will hold the ball for at least 33 minutes and score 24 points, while committing no pick-6 type turnovers.  This will not be a pretty offensive game, but it will get the job done.  Maryland can play all the zone they want, early, but will have to abandon it if they hope to stop the run.  Their linebackers can be quite undisciplined at times.  Let's get back to the idea of holding the ball for long stretches.  

 

When Maryland has the ball...

Maryland's offense is also en enigma. 


Total Off.

Rushing
Passing




Opponent Pts Plays Yds YPP No Net Att Comp % Yds YPA Int
at Clemson(20-17) 20 59 295 5.0 29 123 30 16 53% 172 5.7 0
at Virginia(0-31) 0 55 302 5.5 21 79 34 20 59% 223 6.6 1
Wake Forest(26-0) 26 75 470 6.3 33 140 42 29 69% 330 7.9 0
North Carolina St.(27-24) 27 56 329 5.9 36 203 20 9 45% 126 6.3 0
at Virginia Tech(13-23) 13 49 228 4.7 18 -12 31 19 61% 240 7.7 0
North Carolina(17-15) 17 85 336 4.0 53 195 32 16 50% 141 4.4 0

17 63 327 5.2 32 121 32 18 58% 205 6.5

 

FSU's defense.


Total Off.

Rushing

Passing







Opponent Pts Plays Yds YPP No Net TFL Att Comp % Yds YPA Sacks Sack Rate TD Int
Wake Forest(3-12) 12 68 276 4.1 38 59 9 30 17 57% 217 7.2 2 6% 0 0
Miami (Fla.)(41-39) 39 63 256 4.1 14 51 6 49 21 43% 205 4.2 2 4% 1 3
North Carolina St.(26-17) 17 47 338 7.2 22 157 4 25 13 52% 181 7.2 1 4% 2 0
Virginia Tech(30-20) 20 56 243 4.3 34 82 10 22 12 55% 161 7.3 6 21% 1 0
Georgia Tech(28-31) 31 51 343 6.7 45 288 2 6 4 67% 55 9.2 0 0% 0 1
Clemson(41-27) 27 71 316 4.5 36 79 14 35 20 57% 237 6.8 6 15% 2 1
Boston College(17-27) 27 74 357 4.8 47 176 13 27 14 52% 181 6.7 1 4% 1 1

25 61 304 5.0 34 127 8 28 14 52% 177 6.4 3 8% 1.0 0.9

 

Maryland puts up 17 points per game in conference, while FSU's defense gives up 25 points per ACC contest.  Interestingly, it seems the FSU defense does poorly when they can't get off the field-- their yards per play numbers are not horrible. 

Maryland has a decent quarterback in Chris Turner, a total NFL wide receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey, and 2 above average running backs.  Their line is good as well, specifically in the middle. 

Maryland is extremely multiple in their attack, using more formations than anyone we see except for Florida.  They use some motion, but not as much as Clemson. 

Maryland has STRUGGLED AGAINST MAN SCHEMES!  VT and UNC both play a lot of man coverage.  Wake and NC State play a bunch of zone.  Look at those differences.  We have a shot here.

Maryland's opponent adjusted offense is 32nd nationall, while FSU's defense is 23rd. 

I think we will use PRob on DHB, shading Jamie Robinson over the top.  We'll use Tony Carter on their other wideout, and stack the box early and often.  Our DT's often just guess which gap to hit, and that could work here, as we attempt to slow up their backs before they get going. 

The Goals for the Seminole  Defense:

  • 50% or better defensive success rate overall. 
  • Less than 5 yards per play allowed.
  • Force Maryland into 40%+ passing downs overall. 
  • 50% success rate on 1st down (preventing half of necessary yardage, so 4 yards or less on 1st n 10)
  • 50% success rate on 2nd down (allowing less than 65% of necessary yardage)
  • 40% success rate on 2nd down non passing situations (7 to gain or less)
  • 55% success rate on 2nd down passing situations (8+)
  • 55% success rate on 3rd & 4th down (not allowing a conversion)
  • 35% success rate on 3rd/ 4th non passing downs (4 to gain or less)
  • 65% success rate on 3rd/ 4th down passing downs (5+ to gain)
  • 75% stuffed rate (now allowing 2+ yards on 1st down runs and less than 1/3rd of the necessary yardage on 2/3/4th downs) on designed running plays.
  • Tackle Well: Less than 10 missed tackles (A Mickey Andrews Goal)
  • Don't have your good work go for naught: 1 or fewer draws of 3rd and 6 or Longer for first downs.  This is big!
  • No rushing TD's in the red zone.  Make Turner throw the ball accurately in tight spaces.
  • Take good angles to the football: No more than 4 runs over 15 yards and less than 2 runs over 35 yards.
  • Turner under a QB Rating of 120 overall. (120 is about 16 completions in 30 attempts for 200 yards; 1 touchdowns and 1 interceptions.)
  • Limit Big Plays:  no more than 5 passes of 15+ yards, and nothing over 45.  See next goal.
  • Selective Pass Interference: do not give up the deep ball.  If they do throw it, interfere like crazy. 
  • Hit Turner: Play to the echo of the whistle.  Have a sack rate (sacks / (pass plays + sacks)) of 8% or more. (32 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...."
  • Be studs on 3rd and long: make the tackle when they throw underneath and don't allow them to get the 3rd down.  Limit Turner to a double digit QB rating in 3rd down passing downs.
  • 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. 
  • Confuse Turner  Mix the coverages enough to confuse Harper.  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.
  • Create 2 turnovers.
  • 10 "Stops" Mickey defines a stop as a turnover, punt, or a surrender on downs.  That's fine by me. 
  • Less than 50% Red Zone TD Scoring
  • No scores off sudden change (make MD get a first down off a turnover.  Do not allow the home run immediately after a turnover)
  • Hold MD under 315 yards.  Mickey's goal is 300, but MD is a decent offense.
  • Heyward Bey under 150 total yards.  Make sure he doesn't break a bubble screen for big yards.  He's the best WR we see all season.

MD will run 61 plays.  30 runs for 113 yards (including sacks) , and 31passes for 198 yards.  They'll go max protect some, but we will do a slightly better job with our blitzing (or NOT blitzing).  They'll score 21 points.  We will continue to frustrate on defense, but the limited number of plays and possessions will be key as FSU's defense plays better on 3rd down.

Special Teams Concerns:

  • FSU has the best kicking game in the nation; Maryland is 34rth
  • Maryland is 44th in special teams field position (kick returns, punt returns, and covering those).  FSU is 100th nationally.

I don't see any hugely glaring inconsistencies here.  Gano helps us out a lot with the kickoffs and punts. 

So, there you have it.  24-21, FSU.  I'm not really confident in this, so don't go wagering on it.  What do you think happens?

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