Florida State Seminoles @ North Carolina Tar Heels Preview, part Deux

First, check out yesterday's part 1.  Then read this.

Kickoff is 8pm Eastern.  ESPN.  Weather looks nice, lower 70's, no rain.

We will live-blog the game like we always do!  Be here at 7:30 Eastern to get in on the action.

Inside:

  • Depth Charts
  • In-Depth Statistical Breakdown
  • Personnel Review
  • A conceptual look at UNC's attack
  • What can FSU do to stop UNC?
  • Prediction

Quarterback
13 - T.J. Yates (6-3, 220, Jr.)
Fullback
4 - Bobby Rome (5-11, 245, Sr.) OR
6 - Anthony Elzy (5-10, 215, Jr.) OR
45 - Devon Ramsey (6-2, 245, So.)
Tailback
20 - Shaun Draughn (6-0, 210, Jr.)
32 - Ryan Houston (6-2, 245, Jr.)
Wide Receiver
8 - Greg Little (6-3, 215, Jr.)
87 - Jheranie Boyd (6-2, 185, Fr.)
Wide Receiver
88 - Erik Highsmith (6-3, 175, Fr.)
83 - Dwight Jones (6-4, 220, So.)
3 - Joshua Adams (6-4, 200, Fr.) (questionable)
Left Tackle
72 - Kyle Jolly (6-6, 310, Sr.)
67 - Greg Elleby (6-5, 295, Jr.)
Left Guard
67 - Greg Elleby (6-5, 295, Jr.) OR
64 - Jonathan Cooper (6-3, 295, Fr.*) (questionable, but will start if healthy)
Center
65 - Cam Holland (6-2, 300, So.) Banged up last game
75 - Tavares Brown (6-0, 310, Sr.)
Right Guard
70 - Alan Pelc (6-6, 325, Jr.)
Right Tackle
66 - Mike Ingersoll (6-5, 300, Jr.)
Tight End
80 - Ed Barham (6-3, 265, Jr.) OR
17 - Zack Pianalto (6-4, 255, Jr.) MAYBE
33 - Christian Wilson (6-3, 235, So.)

 

Let's start with last season: 

Actually, let's not.  The Heel's offense was good, definitely one of the 35 best in the country.  They lost basically everyone.  This year?

Here's their performance against 1A competition to date:

UNC Offensive Performance



Opponent at UCONN ECU Gtech UVA
Opponent Defenisve Efficiency Ranking (Opponent Adjusted) 54th 98th 60th 27th
Plays 67 63 44 59
Yards Per Play 4.1 6.9 3.5 2.9
Rushes 29 37 17 21
Yards/ Rush 2.4 4 1.4 2.3
Passing Plays 38 26 27 38
Yards/ Pass Play 5.4 11 5.9 3.3
1st Downs- Success-Stuffed 27-9 (33%)-11 35-11 (35%)- 11 16- 4 (25%)- 9 21-9-8
Standard 2nd Downs 5-10 (50%) 5-8 (63%) 3-5 (60%) 3-8 (38%)
Passing 2nd Downs 3-14 (21%) 5-13 (38%) 2-9 (22%) 0-12 (0%)
Standard 3rd Downs 2-6 (33%) 4-5 (80%) 2-5 (40%) 2-5 (40%)
Passing 3rd Downs 4-10 (40%) 1-7 (14%) 1-10 (10%) 3-13 (23%)
Note:

Only 6 successes in 29 runs, horrible.  

18 successes in 38 pass plays is much better

10 plays and 37 yards in garbage time

Did have a bad snap for -20

Very sloppy, dropped passes and inaccurate.

1 Drive over 20 yards

6 of 10 1st down passes went for 5+ yards, very safe.

6 of 21 success rate rushing (terrible)

12 of 38 Success Passing

  • Yards-Per-Play is used because it is the best standard measure of defense.  Total yards is moronic (please don't try to argue this, just use the search feature at right).  It really isn't the fault of the defense if the offense allows the opponent to get 17 possessions or take the ball in UNC's red zone three times in a contest.  How many snaps did you have, what did you do with them (or allow your opponent to do with theirs).  Simple enough.
  • Sacks have been re-allocated to Passing plays (since they are the result of a failed passing play and not a run play)
  • Kneel-downs have been removed as they are a non-competitive play.
  • Passing Down= 2nd & 8+ / 3rd & 5+ /  or 4th & 5+
  • 1st Down Success= Gaining 50% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • 2nd Down Success= Gaining 70% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • 3rd Down Success= Gaining 100% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • Advanced Statistical Ideas are the brainchild of Bill Connelley (RockMNation.com)

That's really bad. Know what else is bad?  FSU's defense!

Opponent Miami at BYU USF at BC Georgia Tech
Opponent Offensive Efficiency Ranking (Opponent Adjusted) 22 6 94 61 2
Plays 74 53 60 57 63
Yards Per Play Allowed 6.4 9 6.2 7.1 8.5
Rushes 29 18 37 34 55
Yards/ Rush Allowed 3.4 6.3 5 5.7 7.4
Passing Plays 35 35 23 23 8
Yards/ Pass Play Allowed 10.8 10.3 8.2 9.1 16.4
  • Yards-Per-Play is used because it is the best standard measure of defense.  Total yards is moronic (please don't try to argue this, just use the search feature at right).  It really isn't the fault of the defense if the offense allows the opponent to get 17 possessions or take the ball in UNC's red zone three times in a contest.  How many snaps did you have, what did you do with them (or allow your opponent to do with theirs).  Simple enough.
  • Sacks have been re-allocated to Passing plays (since they are the result of a failed passing play and not a run play)
  • Kneel-downs have been removed as they are a non-competitive play.
  • Passing Down= 2nd & 8+ / 3rd & 5+ /  or 4th & 5+
  • 1st Down Success= Gaining 50% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • 2nd Down Success= Gaining 70% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • 3rd Down Success= Gaining 100% of necessary yardage for 1st down (or TD if in goal to go situations)
  • Advanced Statistical Ideas are the brainchild of Bill Connelley (RockMNation.com)

Week_8_offensive_fei_medium

Click to enlarge (works today)

Week_8_defensive_efficiency_medium

Click to enlarge (works today)

Yes, you're reading that right.  UNC's offense is the 99th best in the country.  You could call it the 22nd worst!  And not to be outdone, FSU's defense so far has been the 101th best!  Yes, 101.  To sum it up in one sentence, North Carolina's offense failed to move the ball at all against both good and bad defenses, while FSU's defense allows everyone to do whatever they wish.

Who does it for them?

At quarterback is TJ Yates.  He started 12 games in 2007, and started 6 last, missing some time due to injury.  He's now a Junior.  As you can see from the chart above, he is an average player who doesn't get a lot of publicity.  He's not much of a running threat, though there are some whispers that UNC will try to run him a bit more as he's better conditioned this year and he did drop some weight in the off-season.  

I would like to note that he probably will not have a 3-1 TD/INT ratio this year, given his past.  I wrote that this summer, and so far this year against D1 competition, he has a 4-6 TD/ INT ratio.

They did visit Texas this off-season to pick up some concepts.  I'm sure some of that was the zone read.  It might also be some of this:  Texas Passing Game  They've shown little of either so far.

He's not your ideal running threat, but against the most undisciplined, worst coached defense in the nation, look for him to be running with the ball. 

 

Offensive Line

The Tarheels have a rock at Left Tackle in Kyle Jolly.  While he's not a special player, he is pretty consistent.  The 6'6" 300lb Senior has started 25 career games at left tackle, and even played a bit as a freshman.   At Right Tackle, the Heels have a new face in 6'5" 300lb Junior Mike Ingersoll.  He played 78 snaps last year, though didn't start any games.  He does have this position almost by default now, as his competition for the job, Carl Gaskins is down with an injury for the season.  I think Jolly is pretty good, but this group doesn't have much depth.

At Right Guard, Junior Alan Pelc started 9 games last year at guard.  At 6'6" 325 he's a decent run blocker and does an okay job maintaining his ground in pass protection.  Pelc won UNC's newcomer of the year award last season and many are impressed with him.  At left Guard, the Heels have Redshirt freshman Jonathan Cooper.  The 6'3"295lb first time starter (obviously) got reps at guard in the spring after Senior Aaron Stahl decided to forgo his senior year and pursue his graduate degree.  At Center is the steady 6'4" 290lb Senior Lowell Dyer.  Dyer has started 14 games over two seasons.  He's your typical savy Senior center. 

The key for UNC's line will be health.  With just 58 career starts among them (slightly below average nationally), and no proven depth, the Heels line really needs to stay healthy.  They were pretty decent in pass protection last year, and considering UNC's desire to throw deep a lot, their sacks allowed weren't terrible.  They were sometimes very bad running the ball, however, and they averaged more than 4 yards per carry only once against an ACC team (GTech).

I think I nailed this.  UNC still can't run the ball worth a damn.  They have not stayed healthy.  Center Lowell Dyer strained a muscle in his right shoulder in practice the week of the Connecticut game and has missed five straight games. He is
undergoing rehab with the hopes of returning before the season ends, but will not play against FSU.  He's been replaced by Sophomore Cam Holland (6'2" 310).  Redshirt freshman Guard Jonathan Cooper twisted his right ankle in his first career start vs. The Citadel and did not play the following week vs. Connecticut.  He returned last week and will start against the 'Noles.

This is probably the worst offensive line FSU will have played to date (USF being the only challenger).  They aren't great in pass protection nor run blocking.  Luckily for them, they play the most undisciplined defense in the country.

If FSU gets them in 3rd and long, FSU should use the prowler.  UVA had success with it:

Week_8_offensive_fei_medium


Pass Catchers

Wrote this over summer:

Last year UNC had a great crop of pass catchers.  Not good, not decent, but great.  This year?  We shall see.  UNC lost 72% of the team's receptions, 81 % of its receiving yards and 92% percent of its receiving touchdowns.

Gone is 1st round draft pick Hakeem Nicks.  6'4" 220lbs.  Nicks caught 68 passes for 1222 yards (18 yards per catch!), and 12 touchdowns.  He left as a Junior, something UNC didn't expect when the season started.  Say goodbye to Brandon Tate, who caught 16 balls for 376 yards (24 yards per catch!), and was also an incredible punt and kick returner (All-American lock before the injury).  He's also gone to the NFL.  Brooks Foster was a gutty senior who caught 30 balls for 334 yards, which is only an 11 yard average, but he was good on 3rd downs.  The Heels are also without Tight End Richard Quinn who caught 8 balls for 97 yards and Cooter Arnold who grabbed 7 for 87. 

But UNC has done a great job recruiting under Butch Davis.  A really nice job.  Davis knows talent and he has picked up at UNC right where he left of at Miami.  6'3" 220lb Junior Greg Little is very talented and has played both running back and wide receiver in his career at UNC.  He improved a lot in spring, and should go from a poor route runner to at least an average route runner.  They also feature Dwight Jones, a 6'4" 220lb Sophomore, who isn't a blazer but does have good hands.  He was the #13 ranked wide receiver recruit in 2008.  When the Heels go 3-wide, they will likely use Freshman Josh Adams, a highly touted 6'4" 200lb recruit who made it in for the spring.

As noted above, the Heels often use two tight ends (or an H-Back, as FSU does).  They are absolutely giddy about 6'4" 250lb Junior Zach Pianalto.  He was banged up a lot last year but impressed in his 7 games.  I am not sure who their 2nd tight end will be, and whoever it is, he didn't get much playing time last year.

Fun Fact:  NC has 6 wideouts who are 6'3+ and 200lbs+.  I expect this group to be talented but to be quite inconsistent at least early on.

For the most part, I nailed this.  Little is the #1.  They like to throw him short stuff and let him work with his legs.  The #2, however, was a surprise.  It's Freshman Erik Highsmith, a 6'3" 175' kid who has done a lot for them in a short period of time.  Starting tight end Zack Pianalto dislocated his foot vs. Connecticut after scoring a touchdown and has missed four consecutive games. He returned to practice last week, and will play against FSU.  His effectiveness, however, is yet to be determined. 

UNC's wideouts run really poor routes.  I did rip Yates for being inaccurate, but part of that needs to fall on the receivers for not being where they are supposed to be.  Additionally, they drop balls.  These guys are big, fast athletes, but as I predicted, they are inconsistent and really lack polish. 

 

Backs

I wrote:

Teams aren't going to respect UNC's wide receivers, and that will make things even tougher for their running game, which wasn't very good last season (see graph above).  UNC has a lot of running backs.  They are led by Shaun Draughn, a 6'0" 205lb Junior.  He was a good back last year, and that was his first year playing running back (was a defensive player).  Draughn rushed 198 times for 865 yards, and did a great job of not losing yards (only lost 32 on almost 200 carries).  

UNC also has a huge group of big backs, which I have trouble keeping straight.  Junior Ryan Houston is talented and 6'2" 250lbs, and Jamal Womble is 5'10" 225lbs.  They also have huge fullback Bobby Rome, a 5'11" 245lb Senior.  Let's classify their backs in the "good but not great" category, but they do have tremendous depth.

Womble is out for the year, and Rome has been banged up, largely replaced by 6'0" 245 Devon Ramzey.  This is pretty much accurate.  Their backs don't scare me, but they aren't a bad group.  As usual, the offensive line matters  a lot more than the running backs.

 

Focus on Common Opponents

I want to take a minute to show the differences between the two teams.  Both teams played Georgia Tech's defense. 

Opponent: Georgia Tech Opponent Adjusted Efficiency Ranking (Opponent Adjusted):  Georgia Tech has the #2 offense in the Country to date.
Defense FSU's Defense North Carolina Defense
Plays 63 77
Yards Per Play Allowed 8.5 5.3
Rushes 55 65
Yards/ Rush Allowed 7.4 5
Passing Plays 8 12
Yards/ Pass Play Allowed 16.4 6.9

Yeah, FSU's defense is much worse.  The 'Noles allowed 35% more yards per play than UNC did, and UNC was on the road while FSU was at home.  I guess that's why the 'Nole's defense is 101st and the Tar Heel's is 10th.  I actually believe FSU's defense is even worse than their 101st ranking (can't believe I am saying that).

Now I want to do something a different.  Follow me here.  FSU's defense ranks # 101.  East Carolina's ranks #98.  That's pretty comparable.  USF's offense ranks # 94, and UNC's #99.  That's pretty comparable.  Let's look at what FSU's defense did against a bad offense and what UNC's bad offense did against a bad defense:

Team FSU's Defense against UNC's Offense Against
v. USF (94th ranked Offense) ECU (98th best defense)
Plays 60 63
Yards Per Play Allowed 6.2 6.9
Rushes 37 37
Yards/ Rush Allowed 5 4
Passing Plays 23 26
Yards/ Pass Play Allowed 8.2 11
  • Remember that USF runs a spread option- the best offense to run against FSU.  UNC does not run that.
  • However, USF also played prevent offense for more than a quarter, so their performance was much better than their 6.2 showed. 
  • ECU's defense is very similar to FSU's
  • I would expect UNC to get about 6.5 yards per play.

 

How do they do it?

Bunch & Motion & Stack & Tight - man beaters

UNC runs almost every play out of some sort of bunch, stack, or tight formation.  What is that?

Click to enlarge. 

The reason for this is pretty simple.  UNC's wideouts do not run good routes.  Ideally, teams would like to run man-coverage against them and blitz.  When receivers are bunched up or stacked or in tight, and a team wants to play man-coverage against those wideouts, they will have to put two defenders in very close proximity to each other.  That poses a substantial risk that those two defenders will collide or get tangled up when trying to cover.  It also prevents the defense from playing press-man coverage (again, the goal being to help out the young receivers by allowing them a clean release off the line.

ECU played a ton of man and got burnt.  I fully expect FSU to bang their heads against the wall and get burnt on this.  The 'Nole's defense will look really stupid.  Combine that with the problems they have defending the tight end, and you have the recipe for a truly horrid pass offense to look pretty good.  Mickey Andrews needs to play some zone and he won't because he is stubborn.

As for the motion, UNC motions on every single play.  It allows the offense to get a better idea of what the defense is doing based off how the defense reacts.  UNC players have commented how simple FSU's defense is, and that tells me that they are confident they will figure out what FSU is doing based off the 'Nole's reaction to the pre-snap motion.  I'll figure that they will have the 'Nole's simple hand signals down by the middle of the 1st quarter.

 

A Little Clemson

This offense reminds me of the Rob Spence attack Clemson ran in 2006 and 2007.

Self Inflicted Wounds

UNC really does a nice job stopping themselves.  Lazy/ bad routes, bad throws, and lapses in protection (and run blocking) hurt this club, as have penalties.  I don't figure them to take a lot of risks, but

 

Slow Starters

For whatever reason, UNC has gotten off to really slow starts in their 4 games against D1 competition.

UConn
1st Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
14:55 1:34 UNC 23 3 2 Punt
10:59 3:23 UNC 20 9 37 Int
6:12 2:08 UNC 3 3 9 Punt
3:04 3:51 UNC 35 8 38 FG Miss
 
2nd Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
9:33 1:57 Conn 48 3 -9 Punt
4:48 1:19 UNC 38 3 -7 Punt
 
 
3rd Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
13:31 3:07 UNC 27 6 15 Punt
8:29 2:56 UNC 1 5 15 Punt
3:33 1:19 UNC 21 3 5 Int

 

East Carolina
1st Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
14:55 1:38 UNC 18 3 6 Punt
11:00 0:30 UNC 31 2 2 Fumble
7:00 2:16 UNC 40 6 60 TD
3:00 1:39 UNC 19 3 4 Punt
 
2nd Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
14:44 2:26 UNC 8 5 14 Punt
10:43 1:32 UNC 23 3 -13 Punt

 

Georgia Tech
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
15:00 1:27 UNC 20 3 4 Punt
8:57 1:03 UNC 19 3 1 Punt
3:04 0:55 UNC 8 3 3 Punt
 
2nd Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
13:47 1:37 UNC 20 3 -2 Punt
10:39 2:18 UNC 31 5 1 Fumble

 

UVA
1st Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
15:00 1:40 UNC 20 3 -4 Punt
12:17 1:30 UNC 20 3 3 Punt
9:27 2:09 UNC 44 4 14 Punt
4:46 3:00 UNC 13 6 3 Punt
2nd Quarter
Start
Time
Time
Poss
Drive
Began
# of
Plays
Yards
Gained
Result
12:00 1:20 UNC 25 3 8 Punt
6:50 2:49 UNC 28 6 18 Punt



It's very important for FSU to not allow UNC to get off to a fast start.  This is a team lacking in confidence, and if the longer they go without grabbing a big lead, the tighter they will play.  And this team will begin to press.  I'd expect them to play conservative early, but if they get down late, expect Yates to chuck it up.

 

 

No dropback downfield passing game (only PA)

UNC has zero dropback passing game.  There's not much to say about this expect that almost every time they drop back without moving the pocket or using play-action, they look really bad.

 

Moving The Pocket

UNC's passing game is almost entirely based on bootlegs, rollouts, etc.  Yates loves to get far outside the pocket (with his OLine, you would as well) and set his feet before launching.  FSU must to not let him set his feet on rollouts.

When they rollout or bootleg, they look to hit a lot of deep crossing routes.  This works for them because the wideouts don't typically have to run a great route, it's more of a drift team.

Screen Game

When FSU checks to Cover-3 (after motion), they will run this:

Unc_play-action_misdirection_slip_screen_spence_medium

Click to enlarge.

 

No Huddle

UNC has done a nice job running limited no huddle (hurrying up to the line when running back to back plays).

Cut their Splits and Blast Block the Power?

UNC's primary run play is the Power.  Down, Down, Pull (kick-out) and go.  The linemen all block down -- meaning they step away from where the play is going -- to crush the defensive linemen and get double-teams. The offense makes up for this by using the fullback to block the defensive end from the inside-out, and they block the linebacker on the play side by pulling the backside guard.  Here's a great post on the play.  I'd expect UNC to cut their splits to prevent penetration and run this play 20+ times tonight.  FSU has struggled against this before.

They also do a lot of end-around motion off the power, occasionally giving it but more often than not just holding the edge player for a second.

 

FSU's injuries

FSU is really banged up and will be without Starters in bold. Key reserves in italics:

CB Dionte Allen (thumb),
LB Maurice Harris (neck)*,
TE Caz Piurowski (knee)*,
DT Budd Thacker (knee).

WR Richard Goodman (groin),
SS Korey Mangum (shoulder),
DT Justin Mincey (knee),
CB Patrick Robinson (ankle),
LB Dekoda Watson (groin/knee)
* - out for the season

Several of the backups are now walk-ons.  That is what happens when you have 5 terrible defensive coaches who don't give a damn about recruiting in 2006 and 2007.  You have no depth.  This defensive coaching staff really is the worst in the country.

 

Prediction:

As I said yesterday, I expect FSU to get close to 6.2 yards per play against UNC's defense, which would be by far the most they have given up all year, by 25%.  That's a win for the offense, and I think they get about 27 points.  I think UNC's offense will get it together against FSU's trash defense.  Allowing anything over 4.5 yards per play to one of the worst offenses I have seen in a long time would be ridiculous, but I see FSU allowing UNC to go for much more than that and allow 6.5 yards per play, which would be a complete and utter embarrassment. Special teams are a factor here and UNC's group is nothing to write home about, while FSU's return teams have been good (coverage is another story).  I'll say UNC gets 28 points on a mixture of plays for loss and big plays to win 28-27 over a 'Nole's team that could have some serious infighting between an elite level offense and an embarrassment level defense.

Chance to win:  45%

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