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Florida State vs. NC State: Defensive breakdown, analysis

Missed tackles, big plays cost FSU’s defense.

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

The Florida State Seminoles took on the NC State Wolfpack this Saturday at home during FSU’s Military Appreciation weekend. Tied for 7th in the country with 7.5 sacks, defensive end Jermaine Johnson II looked to lead the way against NC State’s rushing attack and a dual-threat quarterback in Devin Leary. The Seminole defense racked up 65 tackles and three sacks throughout the matchup and overall had an up and down performance against the 57th ranked offense in the country in a 28-14 loss.


  • The Wolfpack started it off with the run game and passes over the middle. Linebacker D.J. Lundy deflected a pass to bring up a third and short. NC State was able to convert despite a strong effort by linebacker Amari Gainer and defensive tackle Robert Cooper at the line of scrimmage.
  • Safety Akeem Dent comes up in run support to stop the run. Press man and pressure from Jermaine Johnson force Devin Leary’s throw out of rhythm and the Seminole defense is able to get off the field.
  • NC State found some time in the pocket and a one-on-one match-ups against defensive back Jarrion Jones. Leary completed his pass to C.J. Riley for a touchdown. The safety jumped down on a dig route that ended up leaving Jones on an island. Riley had an easy walk into the end zone.
  • Punter Alex Mastromanno gave the Seminole defense excellent field position starting at the 5-yard line. Heavy run fits and a few missed tackles were enough to bring out the NC State punt team for a quick three and out.
  • After an interception thrown by quarterback McKenzie Milton that saw the Wolfpack starting at the 50-yard line, the Seminole defense was able to hold strong fending off anxious tendencies while the play clock ran down on 4th and 5 to force another punt.
  • One-on-one match-ups have given the NC State offense its legs. Another big completion with defensive back Kevin Knowles in coverage set the Wolfpack up on the 31-yard line.


  • Quickly thrown passes over the middle continue to be a thorn in the Nole’s side. FSU’s run defense has been seemingly the strong point but the line hasn't been quick enough to get into the rhythm of the play aside from a few times early in the first.
  • NC State seems to prefer the boundary side of the ball when throwing passes while ahead of the chains. Both Jammie Robinson and Kalen DeLoach had multiple passes thrown their way in an attempt for quick dink and dunk yardage.
  • On a last-ditch effort to end the half on a hail mary, Jammie Robinson was able to pick off Devin Leary in the end zone.

NC State 14, Florida State 0

Half-time stats

  • Total allowed yards: 224
  • First downs allowed: 8
  • Yards per-play allowed: 6.6
  • Sacks: 0
  • Third down conversions: 4-9
  • Leading tackler: Jammie Robinson, 7 tackles and one interception

NC State 14, Florida State 0

The defense played the run strong and aside from a few explosive plays have held NC State’s offense to 6.6 yards per play which is garnished by two very long receptions for 62 and 36 yards. The Wolfpack seem to have found success with underneath routes and quick slants to set up big plays over the top.


  • At third and one, Devin Leary was able to get good blocking down the field to find Trent Pennix on a shallow crossing route for a 45-yard touchdown.
  • Coming off a Florida State touchdown to make it 21-14, the defensive line was able to create enough pressure to force a quick three and out.
  • Late in the third quarter, FSU has managed to hold NC State to 56 yards and 2.9 yards per rush. The effectiveness of the Wolfpack’s offense came through the air while averaging 14-yards per reception.
  • Defensive tackle Malcolm Ray records the first sack of the game for the ‘Noles on a big third-and-long to get the defense off the field.


  • Amari Gainer came up big stuffing two runs and tackling in open space. NC State has converted a little under half their third-down conversions at 6-13 and Gainer’s effort wasn't enough to stop NC State from adding another conversion.
  • Defensive end Kier Thomas recorded the second sack of the day for a loss of four and then followed it with another sack for a loss of two forcing the Wolfpack to punt.
  • On third and long, the defense gets caught on their heels again leaving an outside dig route open for a 43-yard touchdown.

End of game stats

  • Total allowed yards: 400
  • First downs allowed: 17
  • Yards per-play allowed: 5.8
  • Sacks: 3
  • Third down conversions: 8-18
  • Leading tackler: Jammie Robinson, 10 tackles and one interception

NC State 28, Florida State 14

All in all the defense played well enough to win the game. It wasn't the flashiest and it wasn't the worst but missed tackles, lost receivers, and questionable coverage by the secondary led to 28 points.