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Film Review: Where FSU’s improved, where work remains

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A step-by-step analysis of the Seminoles’ strengths and weaknesses.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The highs and lows of Florida State’s win over North Carolina State were like riding a roller coaster. This was on full display in the first half for the Seminoles. This week’s film review is going to ride that roller coaster to look at what was going on.

  1. What a difference a couple of weeks can make for a defense. Levonta Taylor aligns over #3 and diagnoses the fast flow run action right away filling the alley perfectly. Amari Gainer and Asante Samuel, Jr. do a nice job taking away the sideline after the back breaks Taylor’s tackle. Pursuit gets there quickly and ends the play for a minimal gain. If you could draw up run fits on a white board, this is what it would look like.

Also have to give a shout out to Dontavious Jackson who fits inside out, presses over the top of the wrapping guard, and runs to the ball.

2. This is run action that has been giving an improved rush defense problems the last two weeks. Wing widens the edge (Gainer) plus jet action forces Gainer to widen another step and the safety also must react to the motion. Backfield flow is to the right, which gets the LBs out of position initially. Five-yard run on nice design that NC State took from Louisville.

3. Think NC State is respecting the QB run game? State committed numbers to the run game all night, but only the Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn portion. The Wolfpack lined up in a 3-3 stack most of the night and were able to stunt out of it, causing OL confusion up front. Akers does a nice job running through an arm tackle on this play and just trips up or this is a long gainer.

4. Great action here by FSU. Outside zone backfield action with a pulling/wrapping Tre’ McKitty. FSU is able to block up the down three, the playside stack linebacker widens because of outside zone action and the Mike stack gets picked up by the wrapping McKitty. Akers hits it fast and is into the secondary.

5. How many times last year did we see this series not work?

Look at the effort by the WRs blocking (for those of you who still complain about Keith Gavin getting burn). Good pre-snap numbers read by Alex Hornibrook and nice effort by Tre’shaun Harrison to get the first down.

6. Pre-snap movement by NC State catches FSU off guard. Florida State is running a gun power play here, but State jumps into a four-man front, which kills this play. 11 is able to get up the field with speed and nobody to block him, and at the top of the screen the end is able to do the same (Ryan Roberts has to step inside first to protect for the puller).

Tip of the cap to the defensive call.

7. FSU covering the wheel up a little better this week. But he was still open, so this is a concept they’ve got to tighten up against.

8. Here we see the wing/jet action again. Josh Brown cannot stay so wide, as the safety is playing that alley. Need to squeeze that wing, whose first step is down inside. Better job triggering by Rice who hits it in the backfield and Jaleel McRae who takes on the wing at the LOS.

9. Dennis Briggs has to do a better job staying square at the LOS. This should be no gain if he does that. Meanwhile, sure would be nice if the ACC would ever consider calling the hold...

10. Counter action by NC State. Janarius Robinson is a little too far up the field, which creates a natural seam. Hamsah Nasirildeen is not a LB, so he doesn’t trigger the run fit as well as an every-down LB would. Leonard Warner fits well but has to force the RB back inside. These are awkward run fits for Samuel, who’s in the slot and does a decent job.

11. Kendal Briles has had enough of all the solo coverage, cover 4 press, and max blitzing. It’s athlete-in-space time for the FSU offense. The Florida State OL does a nice job of chopping down the DL and Ontaria Wilson runs a good three-step slant against off coverage.

12. House call: look at the athletes-in-space theme (Tamorrion Terry time).

13. Highlighting this piece because of the tandem tackling, which is textbook, and giving Cyrus Fagan kudos for not having a selfish penalty. Improvement is clear.

14. Highlighted this play earlier and coming back to it again. It’s a better look at the play. If Warner fits over top of the wrapping OL, Emmett Rice can inside out and is there to clean things up. Instead, the back is able to bounce, and FSU gives up a big play.

15. How do you make 4th down stands? Individual effort plays. Marvin Wilson just eats up the RG and blows this play up while the troops run hard to the football around him. This is such a difference from the first two weeks.

16. All those slants pay dividends for a big shot-play. Wilson runs a nice sluggo (slant and go) route, and Hornibrook hits him in stride for 6. Setting plays up is the name of the game.