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Florida State vs. UMass: Offensive breakdown, analysis

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FSU runs all over the Minutemen

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

TALLAHASSEE: The Florida State Seminoles football (2-4, 2-2 ACC) will try to take care of business at home today against the UMass Minutemen (1-5). UMass is coming off its first win of the season against lowly UConn. Can FSU put up more than seven yards per play and score more than 40 points against an opponent they should dominate (like the Pittsburgh Panthers and Boston College Eagles did to the Minutemen)? Or will the Seminoles come out flat, struggle, and potentially lose like they did against Jacksonville State?

First-quarter

  • Travis Jay fumbles the opening kickoff, gifting UMass possession, excellent field position, and three points. Sigh.
  • First play from scrimmage for the offense, they run a speed option from Twins that gives Jordan Travis options and room to run. Then a counter power run from Jashaun Corbin rips off another explosive run. FSU runs a rare RPO on a slant to Ontaria Wilson, who just drops it. Ugly stuff. Would’ve been 1st and goal. Next play they run a triangle pass concept (Spot?) designed to get Camm McDonald, who was lined up in the slot and ran a shallow out toward the sideline, wide open and he picks up the 3rd and long conversion. Next play they run Travis from a heavy set while pulling Dillon Gibbons (TE Jackson West makes an appearance) and Travis scores. Easy peasy. FSU with 12.5 yards per play on that drive.
  • Lawrance Toafili on the counter with pulling linemen and he rips off 38-yard run. A few more runs get stuffed as UMass starts to key on it and then FSU calls a pass. Travis has all day as UMass has zero pass rush and he finds Wilson for a big 35-yard gain on the Sail concept. Next play Travis takes a coverage sack as Preston Daniel failed to execute his block. It’s obvious Travis is the best athlete on the field, but on a scramble on the next play Travis fumbles. Ryan Fitzgerald converts the field goal attempt.
  • FSU starts on their own 6-yard line. Just running power. End of quarter.

FSU 10, UMass 3

Second-quarter

  • Drive continues: Mesh concept to Malik McClain picks up 51. Brady Scott in at RT. On next play Scott is in at LG for Dillon Gibbons, who went to the locker room. Scott whiffs on his block, but it doesn’t matter, Corbin scores on a 29-yard run. 94-yard TD drive. FSU can do whatever it wants on offense.
  • Travis pulls the ball and scrambles. Was hoping we’d get a little bit more of Travis throwing in rhythm today. Treshaun Ward finally breaks one (for 23 yards) and joins the explosive play party. FSU could run power (and split-zone) repeatedly, and UMass wouldn’t be able to stop it. The concern is FSU isn’t getting anything running inside zone (IZ). Another broken play, and Travis improvises a shovel pass to McDonald, who takes a shot for a short gain. Then FSU runs a read option. On 3rd and 2 in the red zone, FSU goes back to power, and Ward cuts it back off tackle for another TD.

Norvell knows nothing if not how to create explosive rushing attacks:

  • Travis has McClain wide open on a sure touchdown, but overthrows him. Mark Herzlich in the booth thinks it was a good throw by Travis and bad play by McClain, but that’s absolutely wrong. FSU running more RPO now, including a comeback route by Keyshawn Helton. FSU takes a deep shot play, Travis had a guy open, but doesn’t throw it, evades a rusher and then takes off and picks up a first down. Leaving yards on the field. FSU running a lot of double H-back formation stuff, running a counter type play with pulling them like off tackle power. On a previous play Corbin didn’t follow his blockers from the same formation and play, but this time D.J. Williams does and he scores on a 23-yard rush that including breaking some tackles. FSU scores with 1:13 before halftime.

FSU 38, UMass 3

Half-time stats

  • Yards per play: 11.3! FSU has 385 total yards, 262 rushing on 24 total carries (10.5 yards per rush). Four players have rushing TDs, four players have at least 40 yards rushing.
  • Third downs: 5 for 6. 15 first downs.
  • Travis is 5/9 for 123 yards and has 8 rushes for 67 yards and a TD. 13.6 yards per pass attempt and 24.6 yards per completion.
  • Corbin is FSU’s leading rusher, with 84 yards on 7 carries.
  • 35 points is the largest first half lead for FSU since 2017.

Third-quarter

  • FSU starts its first possession of the second half at the 5-yard line. After a couple runs, FSU runs split-back PA but Travis just throws it away. Next play, same formation, but a run and Ward is so good at picking his way through traffic. Darius Washington hurt. Zane Herring in at LG. Brady Scott slides over to LT. Travis again won’t pull the trigger in the passing game, scrambles, and it’s fourth down, leaving FSU to punt for the first time. Already garbage time.
  • Chubba Purdy takes over for Travis. Travis finished with 78 yards on the ground. Interesting that Norvell didn’t give McKenzie Milton any time before inserting Purdy. First two plays are runs by Corbin, including a 25 yard run. Washington is back at LT. An RPO slant to Darion Williamson for 16 moves the chains. Split-back run with Toafili, who seemingly doesn’t look as explosive as last year. Purdy hits McDonald for a touchdown. Good effort by McDonald to fight his way into the end zone. That’s Purdy’s first passing TD of the season. He was 2/2 for 28 yards on the drive.
  • After having terrible field position all day, DJ Lundy recovers an Amari Gainer forced fumble on special teams, allowing the Noles to start at the UMass 25-yard line. Purdy overthrows McClain in the end zone on a jump ball, but McClain draws DPI. Next play Toafili sheds tacklers for a touchdown. All four RBs have scored today, and five players total have rushing TDs. FSU has 349 yards rushing. FSU has scored 52 unanswered for the first time since Delaware State in 2017.
  • Backups in, getting some younger guys reps, which is great. Markeston Douglas, Ira Henry, Jackson West, Lloyd Willis, Jordan Young. Parchment, who’s lost his starting job this season, flashes a great spin move for a big gain. Ja’Khi Douglas now getting some time at RB.

FSU 52, UMass 3

Fourth-quarter

  • Garbage time, younger kids just getting some burn. Purdy moves FSU right down the field and finds a wide open Jordan Young in the end zone for Young’s first career touchdown. Norvell still coaching up Purdy after the play.
  • 581 total yards of offense is second highest since 2016, 59 points are 2nd most since 2017. Purdy finishes 5/5 for 98 yards and 2 TDs.
  • Tate Rodemaker makes an appearance.

FSU 59, UMass 3

Final Thoughts

FSU was once again dominant on the ground. The Seminoles got pretty much whatever they wanted on power/counter and split-zone runs. Their struggles running IZ was concerning. But FSU did what it needed to do — dominate an inferior opponent. The Noles scored on their first five drives. If they hadn’t lost to Jacksonville State earlier this season FSU would (theoretically) be 4-3 right now. A bowl game bid would be within reach. But they did lose, and you are what your record says you are. At the same time, FSU has clearly shown improvement. Not just from last season, but also within this season. And that’s a great sign for Norvell and the future of this program.

End-of-game stats.

  • Yards per Play: 11 before garbage time. Finished with 10.2 ypp and 590 yards of total offense.
  • 369 total yards rushing on 43 carries, good for 8.6 ypr. Four players rushed for at least 50 yards.
  • FSU was 6/8 on third downs, and 6/6 in the red zone by early in the 4th quarter.

Offensive MVP:

FSU’s rushing attack — the Seminoles’ offensive line and running backs share the honor today. Jashaun Corbin was the leading rusher, finishing with 127 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.