Florida State Film Review: Seminoles' Offense v. Virginia's Defense

Welcome to another edition of the Florida State Film Review.  Let's take a look at the Florida State Seminoles' offense against the Virginia Cavaliers' defense.  

A lot of people have been heaping criticism upon Christian Ponder and the receivers.  Others have blamed the offensive line for the struggles in the passing game.  After watching the last few games and talking with people close to the team, I can tell you that the major problem is the offensive line's inability to pass protect for any length of time.  The QB and WRs are not playing poorly, though they are not playing great.  All of the rollouts, quick throws, and bubble screens against Virginia are a direct reaction to the line troubles.  Here's a quick video of the poor protection on Saturday:

Can this problem be remedied?  I don't think so.  Rodney Hudson cannot go back in time and not get sick and get the full benefit of the off-season program.  David Spurlock cannot go back in time, avoid a concussion, and get the benefit of all the fall practices he missed.  Andrew Datko has already had two shoulder procedures of which we are aware, and he cannot all of a sudden become 100%.  But it can get better.  The question is how much and how soon?  

Drive #1

  • F 1-10 F22 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 13:02. F 1-10 F22 Ponder, C. rush for loss of 17 yards to the FS5, fumble forced by Reynolds,L, fumble by Ponder, C. recovered by FS Thomas, J. at FS5, Thomas, J. for 14 yards to the FS19 (Wallace,De).   An awful opening play.  Rodney Hudson gets blown back into the backfield and I question whether he even knew the snap count given how late he was off the ball.  I also think Zebrie Sanders might have had double responsibility here and if that is the case he just completely bypassed it.  Credit doesn't go to UVA but rather blame belongs to FSU.  Heady play by Jermaine Thomas!
  •  F 2-13 F19 Pryor, L. rush for 4 yards to the FS23 (Walcott,A). 2 RB Gun triple-option veer look.  Lonnie Pryor with good hard running.  Very well blocked but Lonnie needs to beat that backer in the hole.
  •  F 3-9 F23 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reliford, B. for 16 yards to the FS39, 1ST DOWN FS (McLeod,R).  K-Gun.  6 man protection.  Nice job by Christian to move in the pocket and excellent job by Beau Reliford to come back for the football.  Who knew FSU had a tight end?  Man coverage from UVA.
  •  F 1-10 F39 Ponder, C. pass complete to Haulstead, W. for 13 yards to the VA48, 1ST DOWN FS, out-of-bounds (Mosley,C).   Really soft cover-2 from UVA.  K-Gun 3-step game.  Ponder doesn't mess around and hits Haulstead on the low side of the smash.  Haulstead excellent effort to get 5 more.
  •  F 1-10 V48 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reed, B. (Minnifield,C).  Empty set with a tight end.  Protection was ok.  Christian Ponder throws this one poorly.  Not sure what the route was.  Good job by Bert Reed to play DB.  Throw is late and just awful.  Perhaps he couldn't step up because Zebrie didn't protect all that well but I don't like the decision.  
  •  F 2-10 V48 Alexander, A.J. rush for 8 yards to the VA40 (Mosley,C;Reynolds,L).   A.J. Alexander needed to replace Bert Reed as the end-around man and he runs it quite well.  3WR 2 RB gun.  Excellent block by David Spurlock, though perhaps a bit dirty.  Alexander has nice open field moves.  FSU should do this more.  Showing it makes Miami waste practice time on it.
  •  F 3-2 V40 Ponder, C. rush for 5 yards to the VA35, 1ST DOWN FS (McLeod,R;Walcott,A), PENALTY VA face mask (McLeod,R) 15 yards to the VA20, 1ST DOWN FS.  Bootleg, good fake, nice blocks by Reliford and Pryor.  Ponder gets facemasked and not hit too hard though he didn't slide. 
  •  F 1-10 V20 1st and 10. F 1-10 V20 Thompson, C. rush for 1 yard to the VA19, fumble by Thompson, C. recovered by FS Thompson, C. at VA19.  2 RB veer triple.  Ponder nice fake to Lonnie but a poor pitch to Chris Thompson.  Thompson needs to catch that, however, so bad plays by both of them. 
  •  F 2-9 V19 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reed, B.  This ball should have been picked.  FSU is in the I-form, wants to hit Reed on the deep cross.  FSU is in an eight-man protection and uses play-action and still has a protection bust!  Man in Ponder's face makes him float this ball.  Bert Reed quits on the route and allows the DB to undercut him!  This is a fail all the way around, should have been a turnover, and is not quality FSU football. 
  •  F 3-9 V19 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reed, B. (Minnifield,C).   Protection was good but the UVA corner had great coverage.  Ponder throws this ball on the post before Reed makes his break, as he is supposed to do, but Bert doesn't sell the outside fake well enough to gain inside position.  Really bad opening series for Reed.  Good job stepping up for Ponder.
  •  F 4-9 V19 Hopkins, D. field goal attempt from 37 GOOD, clock 08:40.  FLORIDA STATE 3, VIRGINIA 0
  • Drive:  11 plays, 59 yards, TOP 04:22  A decent but not great opening drive.

Drive #2

  • Fs 1-10 at Fs30 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 07:36. Fs 1-10 at Fs30 Thomas, J. rush for 70 yards to the VA0, 1ST DOWN FS, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:24. Hopkins, D. kick attempt good.  FSU tells its backs "We'll block the safeties, you better beat that corner."  Jermaine Thomas did just that here.  Play is outside zone to the right (short side).  Orelus, Spurlock, and McMahon with nice blocks.  Haulstead blocks the safety.  Thomas makes a great move on the corner and then runs 60 yards.  FSU doesn't have an elite back, but this is an elite move by Thomas.  
  • Florida State 10, Virginia 0 Drive: 1 plays, 70 yards, TOP 00:12  Explosive drive.  

Drive #3

  • Fs 1-10 at Fs14 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 05:55. Fs 1-10 at Fs14 Thomas, J. rush for 2 yards to the FS16 (Carter,D;Greer,S).   This series marked the start of the read play from the pistol.  UVA defends this really well and closed quick after the give.  
  • Fs 2-8 at Fs16 Ponder, C. pass complete to Easterling, T. for 7 yards to the FS23 (Dowling,R). K-Gun.  Cover-3 from UVA.  Protection is excellent as is the throw on the 7-yard pass to Easterling.  
  • Fs 3-1 at Fs23 Thomas, J. rush for 2 yards to the FS25, 1ST DOWN FS (Greer,S;Womack,T).   Jabarris Little and Beau Reliford have nice blocks here.  Orelus and Spurlock mess up and never climb to the linebacker!  Nobody picks up the linebacker and Thomas has to fight for the first down.  
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs25 Ponder, C. rush for 9 yards to the FS34 (McLeod,R).  K-Gun.  Cover-3.  Reading the backside again.  Great job by Ponder with the fake.  Very nice block by Reliford.  
  • Fs 2-1 at Fs34 Thompson, C. rush for 11 yards to the FS45, 1ST DOWN FS (Dowling,R).  Zone play to the right.  Reliford/Orelus nice blocks on the edge and Thompson good, decisive read.  
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs45 Timeout Florida State, clock 03:25. Ridiculous.  I expect more from Fisher and crew to not have the right personnel on the field.  
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs45 Thompson, C. rush for 1 yard to the FS46 (McLeod,R;Dolce,J).  Great play by the nickel corner to jump in the hole.  Though Thompson knocked him out.   
  • Fs 2-9 at Fs46 Ponder, C. rush for 5 yards to the VA49 (Mosley,C).  Empty set 4 WR TE.  Double-bubble fake, QB draw with Spurlock wrapping underneath.  Gets back to a manageable 3rd down.   
  • Fs 3-4 at Va49 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reliford, B. for 16 yards to the VA33, 1ST DOWN FS (Dowling,R).  Great designed play.  FSU runs double slants and there is nobody to cover Reliford.  Easy throw and an easy catch.  Beau with good effort to get 3-4 tougher yards.  
  • Fs 1-10 at Va33 Thompson, C. rush for 9 yards to the VA24 (Walcott,A). Great blocking on the read play.  Not even sure Thompson hits the correct hole.  Says something that he gets 9 yards and had an even better hole!
  • Fs 2-1 at Va24 Thompson, C. rush for 7 yards to the VA17, 1ST DOWN FS (Walcott,A).  Inside zone to the boundary..  The cuts on the backside are good enough, while McMahon blocks very well.  Thompson gets skinny through the hole and picks it up.
  • Fs 1-10 at Va17 Thomas, J. rush for 5 yards to the VA12 (Walcott,A;Joseph,D).  Power to the wide side.  Tremendous block by Spurlock.  Nice effort from the OLine and Pryor.
  • Fs 2-5 at Va12 Timeout Virginia, clock 00:22. Fs 2-5 at Va12 Thomas, J. rush for loss of 3 yards to the VA15 (Johnson,C).  Just a great call by UVA on a stunt.  FSU misses the pickup.  Should be McMahon or Spurlock on the backside.  Play was another read play.
  • Fs 3-8 at Va15 Start of 2nd quarter, clock 15:00. 
  • Fs 3-8 at Va15 Ponder, C. pass complete to Haulstead, W. for 15 yards to the VA0, 1ST DOWN FS, TOUCHDOWN, clock 14:56. Hopkins, D. kick attempt good.   Tremendous slant-n-go by Willie Haulstead.  Protection is awful.  David Spurlock gets beat again and makes Ponder backpedal while he pumps.  Ball is much wider than it would have been had he not had pressure in his face.  Nice adjustment by Haulstead.  Spurlock has been terrible this year in pass protection and I think his concussion issues are the culprit- not that he was ever good at pass pro anyway.
  • Florida State 17, Virginia 0 Drive: 13 plays, 86 yards, TOP 05:59

 

Drive #4

  • Fs 1-10 at Fs45 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 12:45. Fs 1-10 at Fs45 PENALTY FS holding (Spurlock, D.) 10 yards to the FS35. Holding call negates touchdown and Spurlock gets beat here.  Hold call is marginal but it is again David Spurlock getting his behind whipped in pass protection.  Miami and any decent defensive lineman will eat his lunch as well.  If there's a hold it is at the very end.  Spurlock doesn't have his balance.  Ponder needs to throw a better ball here though there was again Spurlock's guy in his face.  He did put it right on Bert who scored.
  • Fs 1-20 at Fs35 Ponder, C. pass complete to Haulstead, W. for 7 yards to the FS42 (Dowling,R).   Quick out.  Nice job getting back to manageable.  Quick blocking.
  • Fs 2-13 at Fs42 Ponder, C. rush for 2 yards to the FS44, out-of-bounds. Orelus gets whipped here by the defensive end and Ponder can't even get to his second progression.  
  • Fs 3-11 at Fs44 Ponder, C. rush for 12 yards to the VA44, 1ST DOWN FS (Dolce,J;Mosley,C).  Spurlock and Orelus do an awful job handling the twist.  Ponder makes a tremendous run.  That's all him.  
  • Fs 1-10 at Va44 Thompson, C. rush for 25 yards to the VA19, 1ST DOWN FS (Womack,T).  Outside zone to the boundary, going left.  Tremendous blocks by Sanders, Hudson, and Pryor.  Great balance and patience by Thompson.
  • Fs 1-10 at Va19 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Easterling, T., PENALTY VA personal foul (Minnifield,C) 9 yards to the VA10, 1ST DOWN FS. Protection on play-action here isn't awful, but they do give a lot of ground.  Ponder scrambles right, nobody open, throws it away.  Easterling cheap-shotted in the endzone.  
  • Fs 1-G at Va10 1st and 10. Fs 1-G at Va10 Thomas, J. rush for 10 yards to the VA0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 10:18. Hopkins, D. kick attempt good.   Excellent blocking by Orelus and Lonnie Pryor.  Pryor pancakes the linebacker.  Good blocking by Rodney Smith as well.  Jermaine runs hard and doesn't give up and gets into the endzone!
  • Florida State 24, Virginia 0 Drive: 6 plays, 55 yards, TOP 02:27

 

Drive #5

  • Fs 1-10 at Fs20 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 05:49. Fs 1-10 at Fs20 Ponder, C. pass complete to Smith, R. for 5 yards to the FS25.   Rollout, hitch to Rodney Smith.  Easy 5 on first down.  
  • Fs 2-5 at Fs25 Thomas, J. rush for 4 yards to the FS29 (Taliaferro,A;Conrath,M).  Jermaine hits this inside, probably because he was yelled at for not running hard against BYU and Wake, but he may have had a TD if he breaks outside.  Good run blocking by the line.  
  • Fs 3-1 at Fs29 Thomas, J. rush for 5 yards to the FS34, 1ST DOWN FS, out-of-bounds (Dowling,R).   Outside zone.  Zebrie messes this up but Thomas and Pryor run wide and Jabarris Little makes a good block too.
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs34 Thomas, J. rush for loss of 5 yards to the FS29 (Taliaferro,A). Outside zone to the boundary again.  This is sealed off except McMahon doesn't get the linebacker.  The linebacker makes the tackle.
  • Fs 2-15 at Fs29 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reed, B. for 5 yards to the FS34 (Minnifield,C;Parr,Z).   Poorly thrown bubble by Ponder.  Never got the handle on the ball. Blocking is TREMENDOUS by the receivers (Easterling & Smith), but because the ball is late, and because Bert can't make a move, he only gets 5 and not 20.
  • Fs 3-10 at Fs34 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Smith, R.. Rolling pocket again.  Fisher doesn't trust this oline to pass protect.  If he trusted the oline at all this would have been a dropback.  Ponder throws a decent ball considering he's on the run but the defense plays it well and pushes Smith OOB.  
  • Fs 4-10 at Fs34 Powell, S. punt 66 yards to the VA0, touchback. Drive: 6 plays, 14 yards, TOP 03:19  Excellent punt.  Almost downed it.

 

Drive #6

  • Fs 1-10 at Va35 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 02:06. Fs 1-10 at Va35 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Easterling, T..   Ponder great play-action on the read, pulls it, and tries to flip it to Taiwan Easterling but it is too high.  Interesting new play.  WVU/ Michigan style.
  • Fs 2-10 at Va35 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reed, B. for 19 yards to the VA16, 1ST DOWN FS, out-of-bounds.   Ponder finally gets good protection (only 3 men rush), and he throws a beautiful corner route to Bert Reed. Perfect play.  Quality route by Reed against 2-deep.  This is the smash against cover-2 I discussed in the preview! 
  • Fs 1-10 at Va16 Thomas, J. rush for 9 yards to the VA7 (Womack,T;Mosley,C).   Nice veer reed play from off-set pistol.  Good block by Orelus!
  • Fs 2-1 at Va07 Thomas, J. rush for 1 yard to the VA6, 1ST DOWN FS (Dolce,J;Jenkins,N).  Same play, poor read by Ponder (needed to keep it).  Still got the first down.
  • Fs 1-G at Va06 Thomas, J. rush for loss of 2 yards to the VA8 (Parr,Z;Walcott,A).  Poor blocks by McMahon and Pryor here.  Both physically beat and McMahon was slow off the ball.
  • Fs 2-G at Va08 PENALTY VA holding 4 yards to the VA4, 1ST DOWN FS.  Orelus badly beat inside.  Just awful pass blocking and Ponder has no chance.  Luckily the UVA DB held Haulstead.
  • Fs 1-G at Va04 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reliford, B.. Play-action to Reliford.  Protection is fine.  Ponder throws it tall for Relfiord and coverage is great (also holding here!).  Beau must cut harder.
  • Fs 2-G at Va04 Ponder, C. rush for loss of 3 yards to the VA7 (Carter,D;Greer,S).  Read play again and Jermaine Thomas doesn't get his block so Ponder is DOA.
  • Fs 3-G at Va07 Timeout Florida State, clock 00:20. Fs 3-G at Va07 PENALTY VA offside (Dolce,J) 4 yards to the VA3.  
  • Fs 3-G at Va03 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Haulstead, W..  SLUGGO.  Very difficult catch.  Good ball, good catch, but very good coverage.  Just good plays from both teams.  Perhaps Haulstead can run him off more.  
  • Fs 4-G at Va03 Hopkins, D. field goal attempt from 21 GOOD, clock 00:08. 
  • Florida State 27, Virginia 0 Drive: 9 plays, 32 yards, TOP 01:58

 

Drive #7

  • Hinkebein,C kickoff 70 yards to the FS0, Joyner, L. return 12 yards to the FS12 (McCartin,C;Keys,R).   
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs12 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 15:00. Fs 1-10 at Fs12 Ponder, C. pass complete to Haulstead, W. for 6 yards to the FS18 (Dowling,R).   Quick out to Haulstead.  Note Fisher calling roll-outs and quick game because he doesn't trust the oline.
  • Fs 2-4 at Fs18 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reed, B. for 13 yards to the FS31, 1ST DOWN FS (Walcott,A).   More quick game on the bubble as Fisher doesn't trust the o-line.  Great block by Rodney Smith and well thrown by Ponder.
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs31 Ponder, C. rush for 4 yards to the FS35 (Johnson,C). Play-action, nobody open, Ponder has to take off.  Protection was fine, though it was play-action.
  • Fs 2-6 at Fs35 Ponder, C. pass complete to Reed, B. for loss of 2 yards to the FS33 (Minnifield,C).  Bubble, poor block by Rodney Smith.  Tackled.
  • Fs 3-8 at Fs33 Ponder, C. sacked for loss of 10 yards to the FS23 (Johnson,C).  Despite not trusting his oline, Fisher calls the deep ball.  Easterling is coming wide open on this but FSU cannot handle the pressure at all and Ponder is sacked before he can even set his feet.  McMahon has to take him.  Cannot have two guys blocking one while a defender comes free.
  • Fs 4-18 at Fs23 Powell, S. punt 61 yards to the VA16, Minnifield,C return 9 yards to the VA25 (Dellenbach, D.). 
  • Drive: 5 plays, 11 yards, TOP 03:02

 

Drive #8

  • Hinkebein,C kickoff 65 yards to the FS5, Joyner, L. return 17 yards to the FS22 (Joseph,D).   
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs22 FLORIDA STATE drive start at 11:13. Fs 1-10 at Fs22 Thompson, C. rush for 2 yards to the FS24 (Greer,S;Conrath,M).   Poor block by Hudson, late off the ball.  Thompson has to cut around the guy in the backfield and should have gone outside.  Smart run defense by UVA.
  • Fs 2-8 at Fs24 Ponder, C. rush for 10 yards to the FS34, 1ST DOWN FS (Walcott,A).   Gun 4-wide, Smash to the top, UVA illegally chucks Reliford more than 5-yards downfield and messes up the route.  Ponder takes off.
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs34 Thompson, C. rush for 4 yards to the FS38 (Taliaferro,A;Carter,D).  Gun draw with Rodney pulling.  Nice little play and good block by Rodney.  
  • Fs 2-6 at Fs38 Alexander, A.J. rush for 10 yards to the FS48, 1ST DOWN FS (Mosley,C).  End around to Alexander, orbit look.  Excellent open field block by Pryor.
  • Fs 1-10 at Fs48 Ponder, C. pass complete to Smith, R. for 5 yards to the VA47 (Walcott,A).   Sprint out zone flooder.  Nice catch by Rodney.
  • Fs 2-5 at Va47 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reliford, B. (Mosley,C).   Bootleg, UVA doesn't bite.  Has Reliford open but cannot shake defender first.  Dumb, dumb, dumb throw.  Fisher chewed him for this bad on the sidelines and in the presser.  
  • Fs 3-5 at Va47 Ponder, C. pass incomplete to Reliford, B.  Protection is poor here as Orelus gets beat on the outside because he doesn't move his feet and is really a guard playing tackle.  Not a good ball, probably because he had to rush it.  Reliford needs to catch this ball but he has awful body control.  Falls down trying to reach back for it.  
  • Fs 4-5 at Va47 Powell, S. punt 40 yards to the VA7, out-of-bounds. Drive: 7 plays, 31 yards, TOP 02:42

After this was garbage time and I am not breaking that down.  

If FSU can't slow down Miami's pass rush the Canes will roll the 'Noles.  Miami's defense is truly elite and one of the best five in the country.  

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