Florida State Film Review: FSU Posts Their Best ACC Offensive Performance in Ages

I don't feel like discussing the defensive performance because they won't face Georgia Tech again and Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews will be gone in 6 more games, as will the majority of the defensive coaching staff, a large part of which is either unmotivated, unqualified, or both. 

But Jimbo Fisher's offense is proving to be one of the best in the country, both in raw numbers, and particularly when you account for opponent quality.  Inside, I'll break down FSU against the rest of the country, discuss the changing needs of the offense after the Piurowski injury, and of course, break down the highs and lows of the game with pics and video. 

FSU Scheduled Itself Into This Hole

Florida State's remaining ACC opponents have a losing record against 1A competition.  Currently, FSU is in last place in the worst division of the BCS conferences. FSU will be favored in their remaining two home games (NC State and Maryland).  Not to be overly-optimistic, because this team could obviously quit on the season, but they are likely to be undervalued from here on out.  Their 4 losses are by 4, 5, 7, and 10 points.  While I find it difficult if not impossible to root against my 'Noles in any one game, I am not finding it hard to hope they miss a bowl game while scoring a ton of points so that an elite defensive coordinator prospect will come and take over when Bowden steps down at the end of the season.  That the end would come a month earlier by missing a bowl is an important benefit that drives my reasoning. With this offense, however, this is the best 2-4 team I can remember. FSU has scored 18 TD's against ranked teams.  No other team has more than 10. 

Here are the other 4+ loss teams in the country.

Team Record Currently Ranked (AP) Opponents Faced Opponents faced w/ winning record
Florida State 2-4 4 5
Maryland 2-4 0 4
Colorado 1-4 1 3
Syracuse 2-4 2 5
Purdue 1-5 2 5
Illinois 1-4 2 3
Memphis 2-4 0 4
Rice 0-6 1 4
Bowling Green 2-4 1 5
Kent State 2-4 0 2
Buffalo 2-4 0 4
Akron 1-4 1 3
Miami (OH) 0-6 2 3
Eastern Michigan 0-5 0 4
Ball State 0-6 0 3
UNLV 2-4 1 3
New Mexico 0-6 0 4
Washington State 1-5 2 5
Vanderbilt 2-4 1 2
Mississippi State 2-4 3 4
FIU 1-4 1 3
Arkansas State 1-3 2 3
FAU 0-4 2 4
WKU 0-5 1 2
North Texas 1-4 1 4
San Jose State 1-4 2 4
Utah State 1-4 2 3

FSU is the only team to have played 4 currently ranked opponents.  Of course, if they had beaten them, at least one of them wouldn't be ranked.  Still, 120 teams, and only FSU has played 4 ranked opponents.    Nobody has played more than 5 opponents with a winning record.  Of course, if they had beaten them, at least one of them wouldn't be ranked. 

Despite everything I write about this team, I will still maintain that they are a top 40 club.  You absolutely must consider their competition level.  They have not played a Maryland or a Virginia or a Duke yet.  Many probably know some UGA fans.  While the Dawgs sit at 3-3, they have played only 3 currently ranked clubs.  Consider this:

If South Carolina converts any one of five field goal drives inside the Bulldog red zone into a touchdown instead, or converts its last-gasp pass into the end zone from inside the Bulldog 10 at the end of the game, or if A.J. Green fails to block Arizona State's go-ahead field goal attempt in the final minutes, this team could easily be 1-5.  _Dr. Saturday.

Again, let's remember to evaluate performance and let the suckers stare blindly at the record.

Here are the 8 teams to have played at least 3 currently ranked teams, and their offensive performance in each game:


Team Yards/Play
Florida State 6.3
Mississippi State 5.9
Miami (Florida) 5.5
Washington 5.3
UTEP 4.9
Georgia 4.9
Virginia Tech 4.5
Kentucky 4.2

FSU is first.  #1.  The ONLY team to have put up more than 6 yards per snap against currently ranked teams. 


What an Offensive Performance!

44 points, 26 1st downs, 539 total yards.  Against a ranked ACC team.  When's the last time that happened? Let's go for the advanced box score:

Total Yards 539
Total Plays 66
Yards Per Play 8.2
Yards per Pass Play 9.1
Turnovers 1
1st Down Plays 34
1st Down Successes 21
1st Down Success Rate 62%
2nd Down & Short Plays 3
2nd Down & Short Successes 0
2nd Down & Short Success Rate 0%
2nd Down & Middle Plays 7
2nd Down & Middle Successes 3
2nd Down & Middle Success Rate 43%
2nd Down & Long Plays 9
2nd Down & Long Successes 5
2nd Down & Long Success Rate 56%
3rd Down & Short Plays 4
3rd Down & Short Successes 4
3rd Down & Short Success Rate 100%
3rd Down & Middle Plays 1
3rd Down & Middle Successes 1
3rd Down & Middle Success Rate 100%
3rd Down & Long Plays 8
3rd Down & Long Successes 5
3rd Down & Long Success Rate 63%
Pass Plays 38
Passing Yards 359
Passes 36
Sacks Allowed 2
Yards Lost to sacks 14
Sack Rate 5.3%
Passing TD's 5
Interceptions 0
QB Rating 202
Passing Success Rate 58%
1st Down Passes 18
1st Down Passing Successes 11
1st Down Passing Success Rate 61%
2nd Down- short Passes
2nd Down- short Passing Successes
2nd Down- short Passing Success Rate
2nd Down- middle Passes 4
2nd Down- middle Passing Successes 1
2nd Down- middle Passing Success Rate 25%
2nd Down- long Passes 8
2nd Down- long Passing Successes 5
2nd Down- long Passing Success Rate 63%
3rd Down- short Passes
3rd Down- short Passing Successes
3rd Down- short Passing Success Rate
3rd Down- middle Passes 1
3rd Down- middle Passing Successes 1
3rd Down- middle Passing Success Rate 100%
3rd Down- long Passes 7
3rd Down- long Passing Successes 4
3rd Down- long Passing Success Rate 57%
Rushing Yards 194
Rushing Plays 28
Yards Per Rush 6.9
1st Down Runs 16
1st Down Run Success 10
1st Down Run Success Rate 63%
1st Down Runs Stuffed 1
1st Down Runs Stuffed % 6%
2nd & Short Runs 3
2nd & Short Success 0
2nd & Short Success Rate 0%
2nd & Middle Runs 3
2nd & Middle Success 2
2nd & Middle Success Rate 67%
2nd & Long Runs 1
2nd & Long Run Success 0
2nd & Long Run Success Rate 0%
3rd & Short Runs 4
3rd & Short Run Success 4
3rd & Short Run Success Rate 100%
3rd & Middle Runs
3rd & Middle Run Success
3rd & Middle Run Success Rate
3rd & Long Runs 1
3rd & Long Run Success 1
3rd & Long Run Success Rate 100%
Net Offensive Penalty yards -30
FSU O/ Opposing D Penalties 5
Red Zone Chances 5
Red Zone TD 5
Red Zone Field Goals 0
Fumbles 1
Fumbles Lost 1


65% on 1st down is just amazing, the the 63% in 3rd and long situations really reflects the good pass protection.  FSU's 4-4 performance on 3rd and short was refreshing.


Tight End Caz Piurowski is done for the year.  How can Florida State replace him?

This is not going to be easy.  Let me start by saying thanks to Caz for being a great Seminole.  Moved from tight end to tackle and then back to tight end, Caz was finally rounding into form and was well on his way to posting the best year from a Seminole tight end in over a decade.  I'm not sure people understood the difficult transition back to tight end from tackle.  Caz had just begun to finally get his body back to tight-end form and away from tackle form.  An excellent blocker, Piurowski allowed FSU to have a 6th lineman on the field.  Here's some examples of FSU struggling without Piurowski.  Click the images to enlarge.


FSU's young tight ends and fullbacks just aren't set out to play in a jumbo package. 

Here's another example:


That was an important 2nd half run play.  It was 1st down.  Reliford is still a basketball player, and while he has a ton of potential and is already a decent receiver, his blocking is just not there. 


FSU Will Become A Spread Team For The Rest Of The Year

So we know that FSU can't replace Caz's blocking.  I do, however, think FSU can replace his receiving, and through the use of some different formations, can be very effective running the football. 


This is the shot of Jermaine Thomas' run.  Notice how FSU removed the 2nd tight end and the fullback.  That makes Tech take some of the defenders out of the box.  It makes it easier to run.  Also, no college team has the corners to match up with FSU's 3rd or 4th wideouts. 

While the above shot wasn't from the shotgun, this play is.  FSU ran it after the above blown block by Reliford.


There's also some solutions in the run game:


Some other things to think about here:  Rick Trickett was with Rich Rodriguez at WVU and he really understands the spread run game.  Expect FSU to run more from the spread this year.

The line play was good.  FSU ran the ball well and didn't allow a lot of penetration.  They did a much better job getting to the 2nd level and that sprung some of the big runs.  Andrew Datko and Rodney Hudson were their typical rock selves, though each had a down play or two.  Ryan McMahon played well but not great.  David Spurlock mixed some great blocks with some boneheaded plays.  Zebrie Sanders did a decent job against Morgan, and he continues to improve.  Really can't complain about these guy. Overall, the line did a very nice job against #91 Derrick Morgan, who is a great player and he had his moments but was mostly controlled.


Ponder Had A Game For The Ages

Trivia of the day:  This was the best game by an FSU quarterback, against a ranked ACC team, since...   (I don't know the answer, so let me know.  I think it will be back to the CW days). You're looking for higher than a QB rating of 202.

Ponder was 26-36 for 359 Yards, 5 TD's, and No INT's.  Of his 10 missed passes, there was 6 drops, 1 Throwaway, and 3 off-target passes.  He also had a completion on a badly thrown ball.  

Ponder started out 5-8, then really hit stride and went 13-13 to finish the half with 18-21, 267, 4 TD.  That is a perfect QB rating (NFL 158.3),  Ponder has much improved mechanics and clearly has a great conceptual understanding of what Fisher's offense is trying to accomplish.

Reliford one drop. The ball high but both hands on it.  Fortson who otherwise had a great game has two drops.  Ponder was inaccurate on the quick slants.  FSU ended up not throwing them, but they accounted for 2 of the off-target incompletions and 1 of the on-target incompletion.  The other off-target pass was an overthrow to Owens on a comeback too high along sideline.  On the 3rd and 13 where 2 guys were open, Bert Reed, who has otherwise played great, squeezes his post after the safety squeezed him, instead of maintaining his spacing, and that's why he ran into Owens.  Great blitz/twist pickup and a nice throw by Ponder.  Easterling and Reed alligator-armed two balls on back to back plays.

Georgia Tech played a lot of soft cover-3, and FSU did a nice job attacking this with comebacks and seam routes.  Here's the comeback: 


And while that exploited it for a small gain that turned into a big play, FSU also managed to burn them for a big play by design.  Here's the Goodman TD.  1ST & 10 at the Tech 24.


Richard Goodman is the "X" receiver here.  His job is to make sure he gets inside of the corner to his outside shoulder.  The tight end (not the H-back) must influence the safeties, particularly the deep safety, so that Goodman can have a clean inside break.  Dotted lines are pre-snap movement.  The middle safety is influenced by the tight end's post route, and he can't make it over to Goodman in time, as Goodman splits the corner and deep safety and Ponder throws a strike.

And while FSU has one of the elite offenses in college football, they are not perfect.  Here's the sequence that led to their one turnover of the game:


Click it to enlarge. This offense has a legit shot to be the best in the country next season, but the line with three true sophomores and two juniors is still growing.  Occasionally they will make a mistake.  They played very well overall, but must continue to improve.  UNC, Clemson, and UF all have multiple NFL defensive linemen who will present unique tests as the season wares on

Here's two final pictures:


Jarmon Fortson is probably the most talented player on FSU's team and the 'Noles will keep going to him.

A quick rant:  Can't believe coach bowden wouldn't let the offense go on 4th and 3 from their own 38.  Punting is absolutely the wrong call when the defense can't stop their offense at all.  Bowden took away FSU's chance to win with that move.

Oh yeah, can't forget about this.


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