Grading the 'Noles: Virginia 14 - FSU 13

Plays 57 64
Yards/Play 5.46 6.0
FSU outgained UVA by 10% per/play
Field Position Own 19 Own 27

Many of you really enjoyed this column last week, so it will become a regular feature. We take the goals from the game preview and evaluate how FSU fared. This week we take a look at FSU's loss to the Virginia Cavaliers. I hope this will help people keep perspective on the 'Noles. Obviously any loss is a failure, but it is important to analyze what went wrong and what went right. We'll get into what may need to be done for the next game, the off-season, etc. quite soon. But first, let's take care of the game, starting with the offense.

- At least 5.5 yards/play before garbage time. Examples: 60-345, 65-373, 70-402, 75-431 Accomplished. FSU racked up 6.0 yards/play. That's 10% better than goal. 

- No more than 1 turnover Accomplished. 

- At least 60% TDs in the red zone Fail. FSU scored a TD on only one of four RZ trips. That's a joke. I wouldn't be satisfied with 50%, but it would have got the job done. 25% is just embarrassing.  

- No more than 1 operational penalty (false starts, substitutions, etc). Fail. Epic fail. 5 false starts is horrible at home. And it wasn't just one guy, meaning we need to look at coaching. 

I thought these goals were realistic given the obvious physical limitations of this M.A.S.H.-unit offense. FSU did a very poor job playing situations. 50% on goals isn't horrible, but the misses were much, much bigger than the hits.

I've had the chance to watch some things again, and that may have been the worst game of Manuel's career. He left at least 100 yards out there on bubble screens he failed to check to. That is on the 4th-year QB. He also failed to keep the ball multiple times when he would have had an enormous vacated area to run to! This is just common sense, middle-school stuff. It is stuff they do in practice ever day and should be second nature. If the opponent is going to stack the box and leave the slot uncovered, the ball must be immediately thrown to the slot receiver. I wonder if EJ is uncomfortable throwing the bubble, particularly to the left, because of his shoulder. I am now agreeing with those that think he'll have surgery and miss the bowl game. Is the injury getting to EJ's head? 

Now to the defense, which looked better on a per-play basis than the final results showed.

- Hold UVA to no more than 4.8 yards/play before garbage time. Examples: 60-288 65-312 70-336 75-360. Fail. FSU's defense allowed 5.46 yards/play. Now, that's not a horrible defensive performance, but going into the game I expected more. Watching the game, it seemed FSU's defense played well.

- Force two turnovers. Fail. FSU's defense needed to put the offense in a good position via the turnover and it failed. That was perhaps the biggest difference between this game and the last few games. Many of the offensive issues have been there. We've addressed them in the film review. People ignore them because FSU is winning.

- Less than 50% TDs allowed in the red zone. Fail. UVA was 100% (2-2).

- No more than four big plays (pass plays of 25+, runs of 15+). Accomplished. Only 3 allowed.

Were these defensive goals too steep? 

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