A bit different version of the film review this week, as I had some technical issues while reviewing the film. Instead of getting the play-by-play, you're getting my notes. I'll have the play-by-play stuff in the gap between the UF contest and the bowl game. Trust me, the loss will still sting.
No player played perfectly on offense. Coach Fisher said that the overriding concern was lack of attention to detail, and that it was on him. He's right on both counts.
As far as how the game was called, I actually thought it was a much better called game than Miami. And I sympathize with the difficulty in having great plays taken away for phantom garbage (the 50+ yarder to Green, anyone?). But I do want to see more rollouts for EJ. He's still quick, even if he is scared to take a hit with the shoulder.
FSU had two opening drives which worked, but which yielded no points, mostly because of the awful calls by the officials. Yes, Bobby Hart got beat and EJ cannot fumble there, but are they even in that situation if a horse collar and late hit are called on Rashad? No.
Anyhow, if a defensive coordinator gets worked on his first two drives, yet gives up no points, he'll consider himself lucky. And he'll adjust to what he knew was working, even if the scoreboard didn't say so.
EJ had a mental meltdown on simple, simple stuff. It wasn't quite as bad as I initially thought, but I don't think I've ever seen him produce the combination of missed checks, mental errors, lack of intensity and inaccuracy. It was as if he was throwing the game (I know better, as EJ is a great kid). But something was up there. Playing against his hometown team? Letting the shoulder injury go to his head? He missed a ton of checks. He repeatedly did the opposite of what he was supposed to do on the read plays. He was wildly inaccurate, even on completed passes. It was just some really dumb football. And yet, FSU lost the game by one point. If he's just a bit better, FSU wins. Let's hope we never see that EJ again. Fisher needs to get him ready and perhaps he needs to be shot up and told that UF is the last game of the year for him. Cut him before the bowl game, rehab him and get him ready for Spring. If they determine he needs it, that is.
The offensive line was below average in this game, and that was a disappointment as they has been soldiering through all the injuries and mixing and matching personnel. Bryan Stork played very well and there is a noticeable difference with him at center. Zebrie Sanders was ok, but not great. The holding on him was complete BS. Jacob Fahrenkrug was terrible, and that was so awful to see as he had been improving. His pass work was horrendous. Spurlock didn't do much in terms of movement in the run game, but he did have a few nice blocks on backers. Garrett Faircloth played decently, and sprung some of the long runs. Bobby Hart is going to be a great right tackle for FSU, but he is making a lot of rookie mistakes. That should be expected. Five false starts, however, won't cut it. It's what happens when the coaches whiff in recruiting the previous two years, then have a bunch of injuries mount. The offensive line isn't quite as bad as some are making it out to be, but it certainly didn't play well. And yet, FSU lost the game by one point. If they're just a bit better, FSU wins. And EJ doesn't trust them right now, nor should he.
FSU is paying for next year's offensive line success via growing pains this season. Also, if the opposing offensive line got called for holding like FSU's offensive line does, we'd be watching a six-hour game.
The receivers were disappointing in this one. The routes were not run precisely like they'd been for most of the year. Fisher stated that FSU had to waste a timeout in the final drive because a receiver ran an 8-yard route at five yards. Rodney Smith needs to catch the touchdown pass at the end. Bert Reed does need to knock down the ball if he knows he won't get OOB. And he cannot get caught at the one. Just not going to cut it. But that's Bert's career. Flashes of promise quickly stomped out by a lack of dependability and focus. This group should have been better. And yet, FSU lost the game by one point. If they're just a bit better, FSU wins.
The tight ends were a disappointment. They do not block worth a damn. Christo Kourtzidis could get a lot of playing time if he bulks up over the summer.
And finally, the backs. Fisher said he thought they left about 100 yards on the field with a few missed cuts. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. In the preview I said UVA allows a lot of big plays and makes a lot of tackles for loss. FSU had opportunities on well-blocked runs to bust two for at least 35 yards a piece, and likely more. I said FSU would have to make UVA pay for doing certain things. The backs did not. And Wilder easily has the first down if he follows Lonnie. Yes, the backs ran for 100+ yards, but leaving that much out on the field is not a good night. FSU lost by one point. If they play just a bit better, the 'Noles win.
Short Yardage plays were on everyone, from the offensive line (one missed block), to the backs (missed block and missed hold), to the tight ends (missed block and dropped pass). And I am really, really tired of Jimbo using the tight ends in short yardage. Ja'Baris Little sucks. Beau Reliford is wildly inconsistent. Nick O'Leary doesn't block well. Why, why, why are you insistent on going with heavy personnel? Please stop doing this. Spread them out on short yardage. The above has been our most consistent gripe with the staff on the year.
But they have tried pretty much everything when it comes to playcalls on short yardage. Points for creativity?
Short yardage shows me EJ is hurt more than they let on. He used to be a short yardage animal.
I also think that if a coach knows his offensive line is struggling, he needs to call more plays that have little chance of losing yards. Make the RIGHT call. Don't kick from the 3. Run it up the gut 4 times in that one series. Your chance of getting in is great.
Fisher continues to put FSU in bad spots by denying them the expected points relative to field position derived from going for 4th and short opportunities.
Virginia had the ball 10 times (not including the give ups before half and the kneeldown). Stoops got the better of UVA's OC 8 of 10 times. FSU forced UVA to execute high degree of difficulty plays and did not give up many cheapies. The defensive line played quite well, particularly Carradine, Werner, Jenkins and Dawkins.
The linebackers were decent, as were the corners. The safeties turned in an average game, and I wonder how much of that was Joyner's injury.
Give credit to the UVA QB for making some very difficult plays. The defense was not unsound. if you're going to surrender points, you want them to be tough points. UVA got them on 2 of 10 drives.
Not the best night. Obviously, the block in the back negates a return. This time it looked legit (last game it was not). And then Dustik Hopkins misses an easy field goal. He's 0-2 in his career on do-or-die field goals. Both easy ones. Both at home.
Did coach Fisher try to play the seniors more on senior night? If they earned it in practice, fine. If not, then it was a mistake. He said "Jabaris got his touchdown catch." in such a way that I believe he was trying to force the ball to the seniors. Some of these seniors should not be on the field. Just win the game, coach. Your offense is way too banged up to try to do anything but be effective on each position. Forcing the ball to undeserving players should not be an option.
Attention to detail failure on a massive scale falls on the coaching staff. It's on Fisher, Coley, Dawsey, Trickett, Gran, everyone. Not one unit played with even average attention to detail. People say Fisher's plate is too full during the game. I'm not sure about that. If it's too full anywhere, it's during the week. The problem isn't playcalling. It's attention to detail during the week. Or at least it was this week. If this continues, he'll need to get an offensive assistant he trusts. Not to call plays, because he's fine calling plays from where I sit, but to help crisp things up.
I hope you're getting the point of this. If the refs don't rob FSU of 80 yards in the first two 'Noles drives, FSU wins. If any offensive position played slightly better, FSU wins. But it was the perfect storm of poor mental play. And that can't be happening.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.