Here is the film analysis of the Florida State Seminole offense against Samford. No clips today as we'll quickly move to talking about Oklahoma and are working on something for BYU in week three. Samford's defense was very conservative and the biggest challenge for FSU was to be patient. FSU repeatedly wanted to go deep, but Samford's safeties were both very deep and Fisher won't ask his guys to force balls and develop bad habits.
Christian Ponder opened 2-2 with a comeback to Easterling and a beautiful corner route to Haulstead on a Smash for 20 or so. He still doesn't slide well at all and that has to be corrected. I know they work on that, but he must decide to do it in the game. It could be worth millions. The interception wasn't bad and Bert Reed was wide open. The defender just made a nice play to tip it at the line. Samford played two-high shell a lot in this game and the game represented a challenge to FSU to stay disciplined and hit the open man (not forcing stuff). Ponder could have thrown the TD pass to Pryor instantly but there's also the benefit to making the defender commit. Ponder really throws a great ball in the flats. The one to Thompson was a thing of beauty. The throw in the back of the end zone to Easterling was excellent.
EJ Manuel's arm strength has clearly improved, as has his motion. The surgery to clear out his shoulder seems to have worked. His bubble to Reed was acceptable and I have to remind myself that Manuel is not going to throw with the same touch as Ponder (at least not this season). His slide-step to avoid pressure (Spurlock) was excellent and he made a strong off-balance throw to Easterling for 10 yards. That's impressive. Also impressed with Manuel's play-action fake and he quickly got his head around to hit Easterling, though the throw was not as impressive as the first one to Easterling. His interception was absolutely awful and Fisher rightfully chewed him out for doing so. The protection was perfect and there were other men open on the play. Nice ball to Haulstead on the sideline and Haulstead made a great catch to stay inbounds.
Florida State's offensive line is excellent. Zebrie Sanders looked very good and actually won the co-ACC lineman of the week. Sanders looks bigger and quicker than he did last season and he might even be a strength for FSU this year. No more of that pulling the tackle because he can't cut the backside nonsense. There was a first, however, as Rodney Hudson (All-America guard) got pancaked by a stunting defensive end (this happened on Ponder's big scramble). Spurlock got into the defender's chest on the interception so I can't fault him too much for allowing the guy to get his hands up. He did, however, mess up a protection and that can't happen against OU. Not checking blitz responsibility will get Ponder killed against Oklahoma. And he missed a twist that caused heat to get on Manuel. Perhaps it was the rust of missing the majority of fall practice with medical issues, but it has to get fixed and quickly. McMahon was his usual self, not missing assignments much but not dominating. Datko was perfect in pass protection as usual and was decent but not great in the run game.
I was impressed with the backups as well. Stork looked good run blocking. I don't think Orelus can be a left tackle at this level, but he wasn't beat in the passing game, so credit there.
Overall the backs ran much harder than FSU's backs have in a long time. Jermaine had a few runs of 7+ yards, though one time he did get his feet too close together and was brought down easily when he should have powered through and gone for 20+. His TD run showed a nice cut and patience, but it was impressively blocked and he didn't have to do that much.
I was impressed with the backs catching the ball. Lonnie Pryor continued to show he can catch the ball both upfield and in the flats. He adjusts quite well to the ball. Also impressed with Pryor getting into a good football position when picking up the blitz. Credit Chris Thompson for slowing down once he found the open zone when Ponder scrambled to his right. That's a smart move. Thompson also made the most of his carries and really turned the corner quickly on his TD run. A younger back might not have done that. That's something I like because it has nothing to do with Samford.
TY Jones' TD run was a thing of beauty. The blocking was excellent all the way through out of the pistol. Zebrie Sanders showed tremendous hustle blocking 20 yards downfield. I will say, however, that this run doesn't happen against a D1 defense from a major conference. Some poor tackling, angles, and block-shedding by Samford. Still, credit Jones and the line for doing what should be done to a D1-AA school. His other runs were consistently nice and determined as well.
Receivers blocked well, including in the passing game with the short passes, and I mean all of them. Haulstead had a nice over the shoulder grab on a corner route for 20. I don't like Bert Reed on the end arounds and reverses. Perhaps FSU should wait until Christian Green is healthy (or 2011). Bert needed to cut inside Lonnie's block. In any case, running into the boundary is not a favorite of mine. But excellent patience by Bert to wait for his blocks on his TD screen. FSU fans will remember he messed this up last year at North Carolina. Willie Haulstead had two nice catches along the sideline and he seems like a natural running the corner route on the smash (one of FSU's favorite pass play). I was not impressed with Beau Reliford. His block on Thomas' TD run was not impressive. He needs to move his feet. Beau is not a fast-twitch athlete. He lacks the quickness in his muscles to fire off the ball in a timely fashion or run good, precise routes underneath. Nick O'Leary has a chance at immediate playing time if he picks FSU. Rodney Smith showed excellent speed on his catch-and-run up the sideline. I think Fisher wanted to work this group a bunch because the 5, 6, and 7th guys didn't play much.
Here's a good graphic of the run game (Ty Jones 57-yarder removed). Notice there were no negative runs.
The lack of rushes for 10+ yards shows how deep Samford was playing its safeties.
Overall Thoughts & Additional Notes
The offense was very disciplined. Fisher said the penalty was on the coaching staff and he was pleased the players didn't commit any. I didn't see many missed assignments.
Samford ignored the threat of Ponder off the backside of the Pistol zone play. If other teams do that I bet Fisher asks Ponder to keep it (if it is a meaningful game).
This was an excellent offensive performance. FSU racked up almost 500 yards on only 53 plays, and faced only two 3rd & 5+ situations. The first team was sharp, the second team showed promise, and there were no injuries. All in all it was a good day but there's still things to work on.