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Defensive observations from FSU football’s loss to Virginia

Florida State contained Bryce Perkins for three quarters. But it wasn’t enough.

Florida State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Through three quarters, Florida State’s defense contained Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins better than anyone expected.

FSU held a 17-10 lead and the ‘Noles limited Perkins and UVA to 5.2 yards per play. It was shaping up to be a solid performance from the defense against a dangerous dual-threat quarterback.

But then the fourth quarter happened.

Virginia scored 21 points in the final quarter in the game en route to a 31-24 victory in Charlottesville. It was a meltdown from Florida State’s defense in all factors.

Virginia’s first eight drives went as followed: interception, punt, field goal, punt, touchdown, punt, interception, punt.

The Cavaliers’ final three drives?

11 plays, 75 yards, touchdown.

11 plays, 75 yards, touchdown.

Five plays, 72 yards, touchdown.

Why did this happen?

For one, Florida State’s defense was bit by the injury bug in this game. Joshua Kaindoh needed to be carted off with an injury, leaving Janarius Robinson to play major snaps in his stead at defensive end. Which would be fine, if Robinson didn’t also leave with an injury.

Not long afterwards, Stanford Samuels III had to step out as well. True freshman Renardo Green stepped in for Samuels and was immediately targeted by Perkins on a big pass down the field.

Penalties also played a major factor in the fourth quarter.

Florida State committed five penalties on defense in the final quarter, including a targeting call from the aforementioned Green that caused his ejection from the game. FSU gifted 44 total yards to Virginia in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers were mounting a comeback.

The defense does need praise for how it handled Perkins for the majority of the game.

Perkins finished 30-40 for 295 yards, good for 7.3 yards per attempt. He was also limited to just 46 yards on the game and FSU was able to bring him down twice for sacks.

The defensive line performed well against Perkins and did a good job at squeezing the pocket so Perkins couldn’t escape. On the times when he did scramble, Perkins was often off target on his throws. This was how his first interception to Asante Samuel Jr. happened.

But it’s hard to contain a dual-threat like Perkins for so long. Eventually he was able to make a big play with his legs on the two-point conversion to put Virginia ahead 31-24.

Were there some positives to take away from this game? Of course.

Emmett Rice made a few nice plays at linebacker and Cory Durden flashed a few times as he played both tackle and end along the defensive line. Players rallied to the ball and for most of the game it looked like a completely different unit.

But in the end, the same issues that have plagued this defense arose again. It’s hard to see the positives when the final result is another loss for this football program.