Florida Rips Florida State's Defense Worse Than It Did Troy or Florida International

Going into the game against the Gators, Florida State fans knew they would face a tough task.  Reasonable fans expected a blowout.  They knew that their defense was awful and that the offense, while the ACC's best since expansion, would likely struggle missing 4 starters.  'Nole fans saw their blowout and more.  They saw UF put up its best offensive performance of the year.  It was better than the Gators could manage against Troy and even better than they had against Florida International.  

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No, UF didn't score their most points on the season, but points are largely a product of field position, and that involves offense, defense, and special teams.  UF gained 13% more yards per snap against Florida State than they did against Florida International.  Think about that!  9.25 yards per offensive snap for the Gators.  It is an incomprehensible figure.  

And what's worse, is that UF didn't even try.  They executed an extremely vanilla game plan.  UF ran nothing even remotely complicated.  Everything Florida ran would have been studied and repped by an opposing defense preparing to face the Gators.  After this performance, one has to seriously wonder what Florida State's defensive coaches were doing.  If not for the class of Florida coach Urban Meyer, who took a knee at about midfield in the 2nd quarter with roughly a minute and 3 timeouts left, this game could have been much worse.  Multiple times, UF ran the same play on back to back occasions.  It was perhaps the Gator's simplest game plan in years.  To add insult to injury, their greatest fear against their supposed rival, seemed to be injury as opposed to the rival itself.  Florida often used the entire play clock before they snapped the ball, shortening the game.  It worked.  Without having to worry about the opposing defense, UF drained the play clock, ensuring fewer plays and thus fewer opportunities for injury.  

As for Florida State's offense, it was not a good performance.  But when you evaluate the performance of one team, you must consider the opponent as well.  And when you look at UF's defense on the season, you can't help but be blown away.  Florida State's offensive performance was the 3rd best by any team against the Gators on the season.  As you'll see, only three teams managed more than 4.5 yards per snap of the football.  Florida State was one of those teams.

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When you consider that Florida State had a freshman quarterback (E.J. Manuel) replacing its excellent Junior signal-caller (Christian Ponder), and was also missing 3 other upperclassmen starters, including All-American Guard Rodney Hudson, Senior Tight End Caz Piurowski, and Senior wide receiver Richard Goodman, Florida State's offense actually performed better than you should have expected.  

So why didn't the 'Noles score more?  Field position and a lack of defensive or special teams scores seems to be the most obvious answer.  Mississippi State scored two defensive touchdowns.  UF's defense has allowed only 7 touchdowns all year.  No team topped the 20 point margin against Florida's defense.  What you saw on that field was a truly elite defense, playing at home.  The other reason was the complete lack of opportunities.  FSU had only 58 plays with which to work.  Only Arkansas (20), Georgia (17), and South Carolina (14) scored more offensive points than the 'Noles (10).  And considering FSU also had a missed field goal and an asinine decision by head coach Bobby Bowden to kick a field goal from UF's 2 yard line, down 30-0, Florida State fans really shouldn't have realistically hoped for more points.  

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