FSU is a much better football team than they were last year. That’s a tough pill to swallow after three straight losses but I don’t care. The stats, facts, and film says that this is a much better football team than the 2021 Seminoles.
Where FSU is lacking is in the “situational football” department. Situational football is exactly how it sounds. Football plays in key situations that you rep over and over again because these are the biggest, game-defining moments of the game. 4th and goal down 7, 4th and 2 on your opponents’ 31 yard line. Not giving up 10 yards on 2nd and 12 near the red zone and last but not certainly not the least the all-important “middle eight” also known as the last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half of football.
It’s usually the time period when good teams that are playing catch-up close the gap or when good teams that have a lead widen the gap and step on the necks of their lesser opponents. Clemson’s really good at it and so far FSU in 2022 has been terrible at it. The last time Florida State outplayed a team in the middle eight was against Boston College. Wake Forest beat them in it and Clemson embarrassed them in it. 17 points in two minutes of game time for Clemson blew the game wide open and it all happened in the middle eight.
That’s how close games become blowouts and missed opportunities.
FSU has suffered some key injuries in the trenches and the secondary but injuries aren’t why you’re not taking the check down on 4th and 2 when you’ve got Clemson on the ropes. Injuries also aren’t why you’re dropping TDs up 17-3 against NC State. Injuries aren’t why you don’t set the edge on 2nd and 16 on a toss play that should lead to 3rd and 12 ends up at 3rd and 1. Situational football is making sure you get points when you’re up 7-0 over Clemson and you’ve got 1st and 10 at the 50.
This bye week is a chance for FSU to do three really important things.
- Get healthier. FSU hasn’t shut down Fabien Lovett for the season so I have to assume that he’s close to returning.
- Really emphasize situational football. There are too many situations where FSU players both offensively and defensively are looking to make the big play instead of right the play.
- Trust your teammates to do their job. Too many players peaking in the backfield instead of setting the edge or playing over the top the way they’re supposed to.
A really strong start to the season has been dampened by the toughest part of the schedule and its natural to feel badly about that but the truth is FSU isn’t that far off from where they want to be. The frustrations that boiled over the Clemson game are really about the frustrations caused from the missed opportunities vs. Wake Forest and NC State.
Take a page from Usher and get a handle on those Situations and the ‘Noles will be fine on the back half of the schedule.