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Odds & Ends. Week 7: Miami of Florida

Hurricanes subject to shear forces Saturday night.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The goal with these articles, friends, is to uncover some buried stats, ask slightly ridiculous poll questions, and to kill your time on a Friday in a non life-threatening way. If I can convince even one of you that you are better off in your profession than whatever it is you think I do, I'm doing my job.

Speaking of doing a job, I've found it difficult to hate on Al Golden - even if he is rockin the whole sloppy-pledge motif. He took over a (2010) 72nd ranked offense and oversaw its move to 15th in 2011 - though they currently sit at 50th. The defense over the same period, though, has done an about face. 2010 had them at 10th before falling to 87th last year, and now currently sitting laying down at 92nd.

It's that defense that has FSU fans most confident about Saturday night's outcome. What has FSU done against bottom-tier defenses this year?

  • 52 points against BC's 82nd ranked defense.
  • 30 points against USF's 72nd ranked defense.
  • 49 points against Clemson's 81st ranked defense.
  • 52 points against Wake's 45th ranked defense (who was missing top NG Nikita Whitlock).

Excluding Wake's number, those defenses' rankings average out to about 78th. FSU scored on average 46 points against these teams.

The Seminoles proudly welcome the 92nd ranked defense of Miami of Florida to South Florida.

Troubles with TFLs

Before the season started I offered some predictions about our young offensive line. I was wrong about FSU being much better on the inside zone runs with what Bud alluded to as interior (OGs & OC) communication problems. I was wrong about FSU not being much better on the outside zone runs, clearly the bread-and-butter of the Rick Trickett approach. However, I was not wrong about what defensive coordinators should do to this line:

If FSU's opponent defensive coordinators are paying attention, though, they'll attack this line with both run and pass blitzes early and often, in hopes of putting as much mental pressure on this line as possible. Force FSU to read and respond; to think in space. Experienced linemen more easily and quickly recall defender positions and their taught responses (cerebellum) in a host of situations. Compare that to ingenuitive problem-solving (frontal lobe); if a lineman sees something unfamiliar, the defense has gained a split-second advantage already. It's the same reason (most of) you can answer what 9 x 9 is, but have to think about 9 x 8.5 equals. Or why you can play catch now, but probably took one in the face early on. Zone blitzes, along with a nice helping of twist-and-stunts, and bringing extra guys on any down could be the bane of a still green - but bigger & older - offensive line.

FSU's two lowest scoring games offensively have been against USF (30) and N.C. State (16). In their 3 other FBS games, they've scored at least 49 points.

So what did USF & N.C. State do well? Tackle for a loss. 10 by USF; 9 by N.C. State. It's also what BC (2) and Clemson (4) did not do well. Wake did get 7 TFLs against us, but at the cost of giving up huge gains (8.4 yards per play).

You can probably see where I'm going with this.

What doesn't Miami of Florida's defense do well? Tackle for loss. Miami of Florida is averaging 4.5 TFLs per FBS opponent, tying them 99th nationally with Arkansas and Troy.

And like Clemson, they are not getting the plays from their defensive line. Their top TFL generating players are talented sophomore LB Denzel Perryman (6.0) and freshman Eddie Johnson (5.5), who combine for over a third of their teams 34 TFLs. It's not all bad news for Canes fans, as FSU is tied for 89th nationally for the number of TFLs allowed per game with 6.4 TFLs allowed per game vs. FBS opponents. This makes sense, given FSU's very young line.

Miami of Florida will need to run and pass blitz just about every down. They'll need to send at least 5 perhaps even 6. They could do a fire zone, where a DL drops into coverage and a LB blitzes there instead. But Miami of Florida does not have the athleticism to do this, save Anthony Chickillo.

FSU's offensive line will be tested again. Let's hope they've been studying this season.