'Nole Your Opponents: Week 5

Welcome to the weekly review of the remaining opponents on FSU's schedule.  Inside, I discuss:


  • Miami's defense.  Just how good are the Canes?
  • Whether BC's 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech was as bad as it looked
  • The surprising NC State Wolfpack
  • UNC played a game Saturday.  Did you notice?
  • Maryland's amazing performances on defense
  • The Gators 

These Drive Charts Do Not Include Garbage Time!

First, if you missed it


FSU out-gained Wake by 85% per play while attempting to work on the pass game instead of driving the field and scoring.


-Miami's defense is elite.  After holding the Buckeyes to 5.8 yards per play in Columbus, Miami dominated the Panthers.  Randy Shannon might not be a great coach, but he recruited well his first two years and now in year four the Canes are showing that talent.  

-Miami really misses its tight end in the play-action game.  The Cane's receivers are very, very good.   Miami's offensive tackles are not impressive and were beaten several times Thursday night.  I can't understand why Miami doesn't run the ball, play great special teams and let their defense win games for them.  If the Canes ran it more often, their play-action might work better.  As it is now Harris has thrown 23 interceptions in 492 career attempts as a starter.  The Canes have the defense and the special teams to go 10-2 if they take the ball out of Jacory's hands.  

-Miami travels to Clemson in a battle of elite defenses with potentially explosive but inconsistent offenses.  FSU needs the Canes to win here to help the 'Noles division hopes.


-A big Tallahassee thank you to Virginia Tech for beating BC and improving FSU's division hopes.

-  This game was evenly played in terms of moving the ball, but Virginia Tech was crisper and smarter.  Boston College had three nice drives of 89, 69, and 64 yards and failed to score on any of them because of a dumb interception, a missed field goal, and because time expired as BC's QB was ruled down (correctly) while stretching for the goal line.  Much closer than the score indicated.

-Boston College has a nice run game, but a weak passing game.  One of our readers suggested that BC misses its old line coach and there could be something to that.  BC is moving to a new quarterback and the question is whether it will be Mike Marscovetra or the young but talented Chase Rettig.  BC fans believe they will be better off with either of those two instead of Dave Shinskie.  I think they will be correct in the long run, but in the short run none of these Boston College receivers are going to be helping out a young quarterback.  

- Boston College still plays very good defense.  

Va Tech > BC +19.4. EqPts: VT 16.0, BC 7.3. T/O Pts: VT +10.7. This is how you repay us for offseason love, BC???


- NC State has been an incredibly tough team to judge because of ridiculous injury luck over the past two seasons.  That said, they are playing pretty well right now and out-gained GTech by almost 20% per play in Atlanta.  Russel Wilson had passes of 20+ yards to nine different receivers.  Coming into the year I pegged NC STate as a 6-6 team (3-5 ACC), writing:

NC State: It's likely State fans will look back on this era and wonder what could have been. What if the Wolfpack didn't suffer more injuries than any program in the country? Injuries have really hurt this program in recent years. The offense should again be potent with Wilson and a lot of talent at receiver. If the offensive line can just be average the pack might be able to run the ball to take pressure off him. The defense, however, has major questions and was downright awful last season. The depth along the defensive line is good, but it lacks proven players. The linebackers aren't a terrible group, but how much Nate Irving will contribute is unknown. The secondary is a mess and will likely be the Achilles heel of this team.

NC State had so many unknowns coming into the year because of the new faces, JUCO transfers, and injuries.  

-  What we know:  NC State has lit up two bad defenses in GTech and Cincinnati and looked awful at a decent defense in UCF.  Still, this is unquestionably a good offense and it has some very nice skill guys.  The offensive line is holding up and they even have a running game!  The defensive line is deep and working well as a unit without any superstars.  Linebacker Nate Irving has come back and looks almost like he did when he would have been an early-round choice after 2008 (Irving had the car crash in 2009).  

- Still waiting:  The secondary has faced two awful and one below average passing teams in Georgia Tech, UCF, and Cincinnati.  This is a major issue for the 'Pack and the schedule has helped NCST so far in this regard.  Can Ponder pick these guys apart again?  

- NC State takes on Virginia Tech this weekend.  A Hokie win would help VT's hopes for the Coastal Division, which is good for FSU because FSU matches up better with VT than it does Miami (thinking potential ACCCG here).


NC State > GT +17.4. EqPts: NC St 35.5, GT 20.1. T/O Pts: NC St +2.0. We loved Russell Wilson in the preseason...and love him more now.  DOMINANCE

- NC State is bowl bound absent a collapse of ridiculous proportions.  


-Are the distractions finally starting to weigh on UNC?  This was one of the ugliest games played all year.  UNC out-gained a bad Rutgers team by 35% per play on the road but committed three turnovers.

- If UNC has its suspended guys it would be the best team in the ACC by a significant margin.   This is still a talented football team even without these guys!

- UNC's offensive troubles last year had everything to do with losing its top four receivers to the draft, graduating three linemen, and then losing three more to injury during the year.  


Rutgers > N. Caro. +1.0. EqPts: UNC 12.5, RU 11.1. T/O Pts: RU +2.4. UNC lucky to win; balances out some of their '10 bad luck.


-93 plays for FIU!  Wow!  That might be a record this year.  Maryland out-gained FIU by 65% per play and was +2 in the turnover battle.

- Maryland's defense is not awful, but it has really struggled on 3rd downs this year.  WVU and Navy also ran 75+ plays on these guys.  This tells me Maryland can't rush the passer or can't cover.  

- Maryland has a new QB.  I'm done with this game.  Just read Ben Broman's excellent stuff.  Report Card.  |  Game Review  


Maryland > FIU +12.1. EqPts: Terps 29.7, FIU 27.1. T/O Pts: Terps +9.5. FIU: the best 0-3 team in the country. O'Brien strong at QB for MD.

- Maryland has faced 265 defensive snaps in its 3 D1 games.  That is an INCREDIBLE number.  Like the most amazing fact of the season so far.  I asked Ben about this and he said they struggle on 3rd down, allowing 35 of 56! 3rd down conversions against D1 teams!


-I've maintained that UF is a very good team filled with elite talents.  The snap issues masked a decent offense.  UK scored on a fake field-goal play but UF out-gained the undefeated wildcats by 25% per snap.  

- Not much else to take from this game other than UK being overrated going in.  

Florida > Kentucky +19.4. EqPts: UF 33.3, UK 17.7. T/O Pts: UF +3.8. Damn impressive result if UK is actually as decent as S&P+ suggests.

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