Florida State Seminoles football (4-3, 2-3 ACC) sits at a crossroads after losing three-straight games — an undefeated start has turned into a just-over .500 record, with FSU showcasing both frustrating self-inflicted mistakes and clear indicators of growth and progress.
The Seminoles currently are in the midst of the team’s second bye week of the year, taking the opportunity to regroup and refocus ahead of the final five games of the year — vs. the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, on the road vs. the Miami Hurricanes, away against the Syracuse Orange and the two home games to finish the year vs. Louisiana-Layfette and the Florida Gators.
In lieu of a writer from Florida State’s opponent for the week, on this week’s Line of Scrimmage, we figured that the best way to look back at the past few weeks was to bring on some names from Tomahawk past. Adam Brown (CoachAB) and Trey Rowland of Xs and Noles and Noles247 jumped on to discuss the Seminoles’ offense and defense, players of note and offer season predictions.
Let’s jump right into it, Trey, few paint a better picture with their words than you. FSU is 4-3 and frankly is right where most of us had hoped they would be record-wise. Yet, it’s a very on-edge fanbase and many are not happy with the last few weeks. What are your overall feelings on the season so far?
Trey: In the preseason, I think anybody would have taken 4-3 or would have expected 4-3 and would have been fairly positive about it. However, once the games started getting played, a lot of things that people noticed in preseason, they either surprised them or translated way better than they thought.
So I think a lot of that disappointment is because especially at the beginning of the year, when Florida State was fully healthy right after that LSU game or during that LSU game, they flashed the potential of a team that could and should maybe have a better record than 4-3. I feel like it’s promising but unfulfilled potential. You could go either way, but I lean more toward the positive with a heavy emphasis on getting the actual results in these next five games.
Adam, In several different categories, Florida State ranks in the top-10 on the offensive side of the ball. The receivers look improved, the line has solid pieces, and the running backs have been impressive. The record might not be what the fans want, but would you consider this Jordan Travis led offense a success so far?
AB: It was fairly successful in the first four games, but it’s been inconsistent and I don’t think you can call it successful because of those inconsistencies. From the Wake Forest game on, I think teams got a scout on what FSU wants to do. I would also say it’s not fair to call it unsuccessful — these have been three teams that I think are better. They move the ball, they’ve scored some points, but they’ve also fallen apart during stretches and inside the redzone, this offense has been a failure.
Sticking with the offense, my gripe this year has been that the coaches appear to be slow to adapt in game. Trey, some of the comments or questions I’ve heard from you is that FSU’s offense may be an easy scout. Do you still feel this way? Do you think this is a coaching issue or that FSU to an extent is limited by their players?
Trey: I would say most of it is on personnel, because you saw just by having a guy like Robert Scott back how much more effective they were. I’m not going to cop out and say it’s all personnel though — I don’t care what personnel there is, (there’s no reason to be) scoring zero points in the second half against NC State. That’s where I started to think FSU was an easy scout, because that was a little more on coaching. If I had to divvy it up, I’d go 65% personnel 35% coaching, depending on which game you’re talking about, honestly,
Offensive MVP so far?
Adam: I think that everybody will say Jordan Travis or Treshaun Ward or Johnny Wilson. I’m going to give a shoutout to Maurice Smith. He’s played his tail off, he works hard. He’s not really the MVP, but I want to tip my cap to him.
Trey: I am in love with Treshaun Ward — I wish he had that extra gear because if so he could be one of the special backs in the entire nation with that vision, that inline agility.
Defensively, outside of Duquesne, Florida State has faces one the toughest quarterback slates in the country. Cunningham, Daniels, Jurkovec, Hartman, Leary, Uiagalelei… that’s why FSU in the top-10 of toughest schedules to date. Adam, how have you felt about Adam Fuller’s defense? What’s their strengths? Where have the weaknesses been?
Adam: Weaknesses? Secondary one, secondary two, secondary three. The secondary is killing them. I really don’t think Adam Fuller is having a bad year overall — it’s just not a great one either. I think they’ve got some problems at corner and it could cost them a couple more games this year unfortunately.
Strengths, the development of Pat Payton and Jared Verse when he’s healthy. I do like what the linebackers do, I think they’re your strength when at full health.
Trey, you and I like to hang around these smart guys and make ourselves look good, but you’re no slouch yourself sir. I’ve seen the growth and it’s not just the beard hair. There’s still a lot of growth that this defense can achieve. What are a few steps you think the defense can take to get to the next level in the second half of the season?
Trey: Health is going to improve defense, naturally. I think getting more creative with the personnel that you do have would make a difference. And even if you’re not confident in your zone coverage, like sorry man, you’re just going to have to roll the dice a little bit. You’re going to have to trust the guys that you have and start showing some of that stuff that made you statistically a very good defensive coordinator at Memphis — show one coverage presnap, roll to something else post-snap, start confusing these offenses and for the love of God, get some takeaways.
The second half of the season has the opportunity to be special. All games are winnable, with a few tough rivalry games and the currently undefeated Syracuse. You don’t have to give record predictions but what’s your confidence level over the next five?
Adam: I think they’re going to go 3-2 — that’s not a confidence level, it’s a prediction, but whatever. I think they’re going to find a way to lose one game, likely Syracuse up there in the Dome, and then I think they drop one of the rivalry games.
Trey: I lean a little bit more towards 4-1. The team’s Achilles Heel has been its execution — in those two rivalry games, I think you are the better team and I think in a lot of ways you have the better game day coach. But when emotions are high...we’ve seen how this team has faltered when real heavy expectations have been put on. So can they overcome it? This team has shown that they can win in clusters, but they can lose in clusters too.
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