Here is the film analysis of the Florida State Seminole defense against Samford. No clips today as we'll quickly move to talking about Oklahoma and are working on something for BYU in week three. Happy Labor Day.
FSU's new defense opened up in a 4-3 alignment to Samford's 3-wide shotgun look, running a cover-3. From the opening snap, it was evident that Samford was going to run everything quick and not give FSU much time to rush the passer. This Samford offense consisted almost entirely of quick passes, screens, and draws. It did not give FSU much of a realistic look of what most other teams will run against Florida State.
On the opening series Samford ran a quick bubble for 3-4 yards. Then red-shirt freshman cornerback Xavier Rhodes did a great job to shed his block and tackle the screen play for no gain. While I was not particularly impressed with the tackling in this game, the block-shedding was better. The defenders this year are both much stronger and considerably better coached at using their hands to get rid of blockers. There was much less trying to run around defenders. On third down, Samford's QB barely scrambled for the first. The awareness on the defensive line in this game seemed improved. Samford is far from a formidable opponent, but you did see the defensive linemen playing with a plan on most plays as opposed to simply rushing upfield without purpose. On Samford's 5th play Brandon Jenkins did a great job keeping his out-side arm free to make the tackle on the sweep while holding the edge. A Samford drop on its second 3rd down wouldn't have made a difference as both Rhodes and Alexander were ready to make the tackle. Samford's first drive went for 11 yards on 6 plays.
On the second drive, FSU's defensive linemen did a great job of staying alert. This isn't a great group by any means, but if it stays healthy it can be above average, which is a huge upgrade over last year. Samford ran a bootleg for 3 yards. Then on 2nd-n-7, they lined up in a 3-wide gun formation. FSU played 4-3 with what looked to be cover 2. Brandon Jenkins got a great jump on the play and is able to tip the ball which destroyed the play. But the more encouraging thing here was Jacobbi McDaniel's hustle to the ball-carrier before the tip even occurred. If the back catches the ball, there's a good chance McDaniel makes the play or slows the back up enough for FSU's other defenders to clean it up for minimal gain. Loss of 6. On 3rd-and-13 Samford runs a standard handoff. FSU paid good money to beat on Samford. The least the Bulldogs could do is drop back and throw an actual passing play. 3 plays, -1 yards, punt. Running total: 9 plays, 10 yards.
On the third series, FSU subbed in Christian Jones at linebacker and Lamarcus Joyner at corner. Also, Anthony McCloud entered the game. Everett Dawkins showed impressive burst on the first play which Kendall Smith cleaned up for no gain with ease. Samford picked up three on a sweep to the short side and Joyner could have been quicker reacting to the play. On 3rd and 6 FSU got in its "Nickel Speed" package, featuring JaJuan Harley at linebacker. It blitzed Joyner and Bradham, dropping Markus White into coverage. Welcome to the zone blitz. Samford had a very nice slip screen called. Harley does a poor job fighting off his block (he's a safety by trade) and I'm not sure he saw the play well. Jenijie stopped them a single yard short of the marker. 3 plays, 9 yards, punt. Running total: 12 plays, 19 yards.
The fourth series (first of the second quarter) started from Samford's 25. Enter red-shirt sophomore linebacker Vince Williams (#11) on the play, along with freshman defensive end Bjoern Werner (#95), red-shirt freshman defensive end Dan Hicks (#58), freshman linebacker Jeff Luc (# 48), and red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Demonte McAllister (#97). Samford opens with a holding penalty on a bubble screen. On 1st-n-16, Samford ran another screen and caught FSU in a stunt. Rhodes does an excellent job to take on the blocker and get a piece of the runner while Jeff Luc shows decent range to get over and clean things up for his first career tackle. On 2nd down, Jenkins looks like a young Everette Brown ducking under the block to get around the corner. Williams and Luc had good coverage over the middle though Samford's receiver did the quarterback no favors. On 3rd-8, Jenkins gets a great jump, as does Werner, and McAllister puts Samford's guard on his behind with a great swim move. All 3 really shared in the sack. 4 plays, minus-9 yards, punt. Running total: 16 plays, 10 yards.
Samford's fifth series opened with a 5-yard completion on a comeback off play-action. Greg Reid on the aggressive tackle. A zone-read got nothing and big credit to Dan Hicks for staying home. That honest play would not have happened last season. A draw play gets a first down when Bradham gets juked. Impressive burst by Dawkins. First down was a zone-read for 2 and Markus White made the tackle. Dawkins and McCloud pushed off the ball there. After a timeout, FSU is in its nickel package with Harley. He seems a bit awkward. The attempted 10-yard out throw is poor after Dawkins does a nice job getting his hands up. Joyner with excellent coverage. 3rd-7 is a swing pass and Bradham sheds the block and quickly gets the tackle. 6 plays, 18 yards. Running total: 22 plays, 28 yards.
The sixth series came right after the Greg Reid punt return. Not a great job by Luc and Williams on the 3-yard gainer. That should be stopped for a loss. Have to take a better angle and use the correct arm to fight off blocks. A bad snap derailed the next play. On the next play JUCO transfer Mike Harris (#1) gets the interception on a ball that ricocheted off the receiver's hands on the tunnel screen. Kudos to Werner for playing heads-up football and running with the play. 3 plays, 0 yards. Running total: 25 plays, 28 yards.
The seventh series starts with FSU up 35-0. A scramble by the QB gets 7or 8 as Telvin Smith (#22) gets rocked on a block. Promising young linebacker has a bright future. DT coach Haggins was not happy with one of the DTs. On the next play Samford has a screen set up, but FSU calls a perfect zone blitz to the opposite side. Christian Jones (#7) will be a nightmare off the edge and FSU fans have to be incredibly happy they have the young freshman. He gets in on the sack along with Bjoern Werner. Werner-Jenkins-McAllister-McCloud combine on a sack on the next play as FSU was again in its nickel look with Smith and Harley at linebacker. Not sure what the coverage was as ESPN insists on cutting the TV angles unnecessarily close. 3 plays, minus-5 yards. Running total: 28 plays, 25 yards.
On the final drive of the first half, Samford gets something going. A 9-yard draw play works as Kendal Smith takes a false step and Bradham doesn't get off his block very well. Samford throws a 7-yard comeback. Joyner might have been lined up a bit too far there. Samford throws another quick pass on the next play. Greg Reid has the receiver lined up for no gain and a huge hit, but in going for the huge hit he misses and the receiver runs for 19. Greg needs to understand what coverage he's in and when he can go for the hit. Poor tackling. Justin Bright (#3) looks awful out there. Way too slow and small. Not somebody who you want to depend on if you are FSU. Poor job of getting in a football position by Vince Williams on the next play (a draw for 8 yards). Amp McCloud shows nice hustle on the next play shoe-stringing a wide receiver. Some sort of miscommunication on the next play leads to an open receiver over the middle, but he drops the ball. FSU got lucky there. FSU then comes up with the sack on the zone blitz, but it should have been a loss of 7 not 1 as Telvin Smith misses the opportunity. Samford then hits a desperation throw to the 35, but Markus White is called for a questionable late hit on the quarterback. FSU holds Samford for a loss on the next play but Samford hits the field goal. 10 plays, 56 yards. Running total: 38 plays, 81 yards.
I'm not going to break down the second half today. I was impressed that Florida State played a ton of players in this game and counted at least 24 seperate scholarship players who got in on defense.
It was quite hard to judge the defensive line in this game with the stuff Samford was running. I am not at all ready to call them a strength, but the defensive line didn't look like an obvious liability today. I am extremely excited about the 2011 defensive line. Get these guys another year under strength coach Vic Viloria and watch out. As for this year, it is all about health. If the defensive line stays quite healthy, this team can win 9 games. If the line suffers losses, FSU might only win 7. Jenkins is a carbon copy of the 2007 version of Everette Brown (remember his game against Colorado?). Werner will be a 3-year starter. We expected him to see many snaps this season and Saturday only helped to solidify that opinion. White has a great motor and while he'll never be a great player FSU needs his 30-40 snaps per game. All of the defensive tackles impressed me in different ways.
I thought the linebackers had an up and down day. I was impressed by their ability to shed blockers but underwhelmed by their tackling. In the first year of the new scheme they are still thinking and not reacting. Bradham is the best player here. Kendall Smith is the most improved by far. Alexander brings good energy. Christian Jones will be a monster off the edge as a 3-year starter, but he is still quite raw. Telvin Smith showed why the coaches love him so much and Jeff Luc looked quicker than I expected. Harley looked a bit lost as a nickel backer. My opinion of the linebackers is relatively unchanged.
I was very impressed with the corners as I thought I would be. FSU's backups could start for a few top-25 teams right now, and the Reid-Rhodes tandem will allow Mark Stoops to get some R&R this season. Rhodes looked very good and Reid's play as a corner (special teams aside) was impressive outside the dumb attempt at a highlight-reel tackle. I can't say enough about Rhodes' tackling on the short side. He'll help the run defense as much as he does the pass defense.
The safeties didn't do anything for me. ESPN cuts the angles so close on games in Doak that it can be tough to see the safeties in coverage. Nice play was made by Chad Abram.
Samford's offense was a joke and it did not give FSU good looks to practice against. And Samford was missing its best receiver due to an academic suspension. This performance is as valuable for what did not happen (Samford didn't have guys running wide open) as what did happen. This defense can be one of the best 40 in the country (we predicted 37th best), but there is still much work to be done and it will still get lit up a time or two this year.