Florida State's Defense The Cure For Ailing Offenses

Note:  This isn't entirely Mickey Andrews' fault.  He didn't want Chuck Amato or some of the other family friends inept defensive coaches Bobby Bowden forced upon him.  He's been incredibly unselfish for more than 20 years, and dealt with the ridiculous Jeff Bowden circus, producing top defense after top defense.  It must be hard for him to continue to see his position coaches get nothing out of their players.  4 more games, FSU fans, 4 more games.  So with that, let's ask the question:

How bad is Florida State's "defense"?

  • In just 5 conference games so far, the 'Noles have already allowed more points than they did in any other full ACC Season (8 games). That's pretty difficult to do.  
  • In just 5 ACC games, they've already allowed more yards than the entire conference seasons of 2006 and 2004 (and surely before). 
  •  In ACC play, they are the only defense allowing more than 7 yards per snap.  And yes, Duke is still in the ACC.  Snap, 7 yards.  Snap, 7 yards.  Snap, 7 yards.  Oh, and they significantly benefit from opponent's kneel-downs!  (5 for about -10 yards). 
  • In their last two home games, they've surrendered 91 points and 1080 yards. 
  • In conference play, they've allowed more touchdowns (25) than they've tallied tackles for loss (24).  .  
  • At the very least, you figure the defense could hold an opposing offense to a field goal once in a while, right?  Sorry, but no.  In conference play, FSU's defense has allowed 25 Touchdowns and only 3 field goals. 
  • Florida State's offense rarely turns the ball over and opposing offenses usually start with poor field position.  But that doesn't seem to matter.  FSU has allowed scoring drives of 80, 76, 80, 74, 80, 38, 80, 12, 52, 45, 83, 73, 61, 69, 44, 73, 80, 25, 79, 88, 65, 80, 66, 75, 28, 61, 73, and 59.  And that is just in ACC play!  8 TD drives of 80+ yards!  15 TD drives of 70+ yards!
  • And I have no idea why anyone would ever throw on FSU.  In their 5 ACC games, The 'Noles are allowing 6 yards per carry.  Under 3.5 yards is the typical goal, and I guess average defenses can live with 4 or 4.5, but 6?  Seriously?  5 conference games, 192 carries, 1159 yards allowed (193 yards allowed per game.  And it's not all Georgia Tech.  Boston College ran for 5.7, UNC for 6.7, and NC State 5.7 
  • Well, I guess if I was averaging 8.8 yards every throw, I might think about passing the ball.  Wait, FSU's 5 conference opponents averaged 8.8 yards per throw against FSU?  Seriously?  Ok then. 

And while all of that is extremely demoralizing, and there are only 7 defenses in the entire country that are legitimately worse than Florida State (if you are curious, they are Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, UNLV, Hawaii, Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and North Texas), I think the best way to get a handle on just how bad this defense is, is to look at how much better each FSU opponent played did against the 'Noles than in any of their other games.  Continue reading...

Here's the table of every one of FSU's defensive performances this season against Division-1 competition.

Florida State's Defensive Performance Against Division 1 Teams
Opponent Miami at BYU USF at BC Ga Tech at UNC NCSt
Plays 74 53 60 57 63 68 69
Yards Per Play Allowed 6.4 9 6.3 7.1 8.5 4.9 7.8
Rushes 29 18 37 34 55 38 36
Yards/ Rush Allowed 3.4 6.3 5 5.7 7.4 6.7 5.7
Passing Plays 35 35 23 23 8 30 33
Yards/ Pass Play Allowed 10.8 10.3 8.2 9.1 16.4 2.7 10.1
  • 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 red zone.  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 are not included as they are not a competitive play.

Yeah, that's pretty disgusting. 

But what is really, really bad, is that all of Florida States D1 opponents posted their best offensive day of the year (v. BCS conference competition)... against Florida State!  Literally, each team has either scored their most points of the year, had their most yards of the year, or had their most yards per play of the year, against Florida State.  A few have done all three!  Take a look:

Yards Per Play of Florida State's Opponents
at FSU 7.4 FSU 8.9 WVU 6.4 FSU 7.1 at FSU 8.5 ECU 6.9 at FSU 7.8
Gtech 7.1 at OU 6 at FSU 6.3 NCSt 7.1 at Vandy 7.3 FSU 4.9 Pitt 6.6
Clem 7 TCU 4.3 at Cuse 5.8 CMU 6.8 at MissSt 7 at VT 4.4 Duke 6.4
OU 5.7

Cinci 5.4 at ND 5.5 Clem 6.5 at Uconn 4.1 at Wake 5.5
at Wake 5.6

at Pitt 4.6 Wake 5.4 at UVA 5.7 at Gtech 3.5 at BC 4.8
at UCF 5

Kent St 5.3 UNC 5.1 UVA 2.9 So. Car 2.4

at VT 2.9 Vtech 5.1

at Clem 1.1 at Mia 4.2

The Canes posted their best offensive performance on the road, in their first game of the season (notoriously tough for offense). 


UM also posted their season high in Points and Total Yards. 

Oh, and Tallahassee natives will hate this, but Miami had more yards and yards per play at FSU than they did at home against FAMU!



BYU's offense moved the ball at almost 50% more yards per play than their next best game. 


They also doubled their next best point total, and had 110 more yards than their next best performance


More ridiculousness?  BYU did better against Florida State than they did against Tulane, Colorado State, Utah State, UNLV, and San Diego State!

This wasn't USF's top performance, but it was their best


They were on the road, starting a true freshman quarterback in his first ever start, and only missed the mark by 0.1 yards per play. 


Plus, USF shut down their offense for almost an entire quarter, deflating their numbers a bit.

Boston College posted their best day against Florida State and like USF did, BC also shut down their offense for more than a quarter. 
8.5 yards per play was, of course, Georgia Tech's best game of the year. 


Their performance was 15 % better better than their next best performance. 


Georgia Tech did not punt. 


This was the 2nd game in which FSU's defense allowed more than 530 yards at home.

Hey!  FSU's defense didn't allow an opponent to have their best game of the year! ... 


But, they did allow them their best game of the year against BCS competition. 


This was the most yards, points, and points per play UNC put up against any BCS conference team. 


Also, UNC rushed 38 times for 6.7 yards per rush, which begs the question: "why did UNC ever throw the ball?"

Trifecta!    6 Touchdowns (42 points) and 538 yards.  20% more yards per play than they managed against anyone else. 


FSU's best defense was the 'Pack's abysmal clock management at the end of the half. 


Also, NC State had 20% more yards per play against Florida State, on the road, than they did at home against Gardner Webb and Murray State!

This is really a shame.  FSU's defense is full of highly recruited defensive players.  Everyone in the country wanted these guys.  The players deserve much better from their defensive coaches.  And yes, I know that this defensive coaching staff has only 4 games left.  FSU should be dedicated to providing their players with the best possible coaching.  If the defensive staff put forth any effort at all, this defense could go from "not one of the best 100 defenses in the country" to "below average", and the 'Noles would likely be 7-1. 

It is not the players.  Look at the defenses who are as poor as Florida State.  Do they have any 4* or 5* players?  I think not.  In fact, the defensive talent level, when it got to Florida State, is higher than that of the offense.  That offense, coached by hungry, competent (to put it mildly) coaches, is one of the finest attacks in the country despite having few quality players left over from the 2006 and 2007 recruiting classes (those classes, of course, comprise the Juniors and Seniors). 

It's not the players.  But it should be about the players.  The defensive staff needs to conduct itself with professionalism for their last 4 games at FSU.  They are paid very well, much more than the Sun Belt Conference coaches, whose unit their defense currently emulates.  The defensive coaches owe it to their players.  The defensive coaches owe it to the offensive players (who have been oh so patient and mastered their cliches).  And they damn sure owe it to the offensive staff, which is truly a model of excellence, dominating every opposing defense with a cast of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. 

Oh, and it is not the youth.  FSU fans, don't let anyone, even for a second, try to tell you the defense is young.  Aside from having a lot of raw physical talent (still undeveloped by this poor excuse for a staff), this defense starts 6 seniors 3 Juniors, and 2 sophomores.  It is a decidedly veteran group, and one that has been robbed of even a sliver of quality defensive coaching in their careers.  And it's a football tragedy that they haven't been taught even the most basic of college football fundamentals, or that they look confused, not even understanding where to line up.  That's on the coaching.  It's not on the players.

This is the problem created when a deified head coach runs his program like a charity; determined to help fallen coaching friends who are past their prime or who never had one.  Fortunately for FSU fans, this will all soon be over.

4 more games.  4 more games.

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