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Florida State vs. Wake Forest: Offensive breakdown, analysis

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FSU is still in a deep hole.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Florida State at Wake Forest Photo by Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After putting up 38 on Notre Dame and just 17 on FCS Jacksonville State, what kind of offensive performance will we get vs. the Demon Deacons?

First-quarter

  • First drive in plus territory off a turnover forced by the defense? Yes please! Fumbling on the second play from scrimmage? Really gross and I guess we can’t have nice things. Jashaun Corbin commits a devastating fumble, which turns into easy points for Wake Forest. McKenzie Milton got the start. Too many self-inflicted mistakes this season.
  • Florida State’s second drive started more conventionally, with Jordan Travis at quarterback. However, center Baveon Johnson goes down, which is an injury FSU cannot afford with Maurice Smith already hurt. Darius Washington slides over to fill in. That forced the rest of the line to shuffle around, with Love-Taylor at right tackle and Brady Scott at LT. Quickly face a third and long, Travis drops back and then looks to take off and is sacked for a loss. This offense looked like the Wildcat but with Travis. First and second downs looked like QB counter. Punt.
  • Another drive starting off a turnover, Milton back in. Offense quickly goes three and out. They can’t string together two positive plays. This offense is awful to watch, doesn’t seem to have any identity with QB shuffle. They can run but can’t pass consistently. OL shuffle certainly doesn’t help.
  • Seminoles starting their fourth drive of the game with just 18 total yards of offense on eight plays. Wake has 176. Travis comes back in. Missing reads in read-option game that leaves tons of yards on the field. Wake Forest commits a couple personal foul penalties and FSU finally finds some rhythm. Treshaun Ward continues to impress. A well-called and executed screen pass to Ward scores and ’Noles cut the lead to 14-7.

Second-quarter

  • A decision to run out the kickoff instead of calling fair catch results in a holding call that backs FSU up to its 15-yard line. Travis returns, but the offense quickly faces another third and long. Travis almost immediately dumps it off in the flat to the running back and FSU punts. Travis can’t process the field; he’s still a one-read QB.
  • Travis does make a read! And then a jailbreak pressure gets Travis sacked and hurt. Milton comes out for 2nd and 19 and immediately throws into triple coverage to a receiver who is not even close to open and it’s an interception. Ball is just way too late. How is it possible that the offense has regressed in every game this season? I’m getting deja vu from the Willie Taggart era.
  • One play, touchdown. Travis drops back and throws in rhythm to Pokie Wilson for a 65-yard touchdown. This offense is explosive but bipolar. Both Wake DBs bit on the shallow route in the flat and Wilson slips behind them for an easy TD. Well designed play. On last drive before halftime Travis takes a shot as his hail mary effort ends in an interception.

Halftime Stats

  • FSU has five penalties for 51 yards and two turnovers.
  • Averaging 7 yards per play thanks to a few explosive plays. Misleading due to unsustainable 18.8 yards per pass. One for three on third downs.
  • Averaging just 3.6 yards per rush on 16 attempts.
  • Travis is 5/6 for 107 yards 2 TDs 1 INT. Milton is 1/3 for 6 yards and 1 INT.

Florida State 14, Wake Forest 27


Third-quarter

  • FSU opens second half with ball. Travis seems the obvious call to start and he does. Offense is more methodical, but Travis still missing reads in the pass game. On a third and three just past midfield, he again freezes in the pass game and takes a sack. If his first read isn’t there, he holds the ball too long and then tries to run.
  • With the score 14-35, can FSU get back in it? Milton gets the call. A strike in rhythm over the middle to Wilson is followed by an explosive screen to Lawrance Toafili. Milton then bails a clean pocket and sidearms a pass on miscommunication with his receiver that’s nearly picked. Pitch read to Ward outside gains another first down. FSU having a lot of success running outside the tackles in this game. Screen to Ward looks like it’s going nowhere but Ward weaves and gets seven yards out of it. In the red zone Wake stiffens and with FSU facing a 4th and 2 they inexplicably try to run Milton in the wildcat, which is stuffed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Wildcat as a package, but with Milton? And three runs up the middle? Travis’ shoulder injury likely kept him out of the game here.
  • FSU got a quick stop on defense so decent field position at the 31. Milton in again. Milton launches it but Wilson can’t high point to even make a play on the ball. FSU running a lot of counter today with a pulling guard, to mixed success. Milton doing a good job extending the play and moving the chains now.

Fourth-quarter

  • FSU tries to run a counter play to the failed Milton-Wildcat fourth down from the previous drive but it’s stuffed. They faked the Wildcat and he threw the same tight screen they’ve run a couple times now. On third and three Milton stands in the pocket against the blitz and throws quick to Wilson for a first down and goal. There’s targeting that’s not called. But then Milton fumbles into the end zone on the next play and it’s recovered by Wake. What else can you do at this point but laugh? It’s Murphy’s Law — whatever can go wrong does.
  • FSU takes over after the defense stops Wake on downs as the Demon Deacons just try to shorten the game. On the first play Milton rolls out and launches it into double coverage and it’s intercepted again.
  • On the next drive Milton tries to scramble to extend the play but Milton is crushed and fumbles. Milton has turned it over on three straight plays and FSU now has more turnovers than third down conversions.

Final Stats and Thoughts

  • Six turnovers.
  • It’s hilarious that FSU is outgaining Wake in yards per play just halfway through the 4th quarter, 6.4 to 5.7.
  • 3.3 yards per rush on 29 attempts, less than 100 total yards.
  • Travis finishes with the same stats he had at halftime. Milton finishes 11/16 for 199 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and two fumbles.

This FSU offense, like the overall team, is in a deep hole. FSU, as expected, had a lot of success running outside. But the same issues continue to plague this team — self-inflicted mistakes; penalties, turnovers, sloppy and poor execution. Even with all the transfers, the talent on this team is still an issue. But it’s undoubtedly a more talented team than last season.

Further, while this team can run and defend the run better than last season, it still can’t pass and can’t defend the pass. It’s somehow even a worse team than last season, if that’s possible. The program is quite literally at rock bottom. It lost to an FCS team, which is as bad as it can get for an FBS team, and then got blown out by Wake Forest. Where do you go from here? How do you handle players quitting with so much of the season left? Can you keep FSU’s recruiting class together?

What about the questionable play calls and questionable personnel usage? What about the offensive identity? There’s a million questions and no answers.