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Many Warning Signs for Seminoles

Oct 04, 2013 -- 12:49pm

Alex Turko (@aturko_23)

            The continuous slow starts on both sides of the ball should have Seminole fans shaking in their boots.  Boston College went up 17 to 3 early into last Saturday’s showdown.  Who knows what would have happen if Jameis Winston didn’t throw that miraculous Hail Mary to Kenny Shaw as time expired in the first half.  This play made all of the highlight reels and headlined the talk shows, but the real storyline behind the Seminole football team this season has been the slow starts. 

            Once again the Noles came out flat and had everyone covering their eyes with the embarrassing display of football.  Florida State’s defense was expected to have some trouble stopping Boston College’s bruising 230-pound running back, Andre Williams.  But “some trouble” should not have meant giving 149 yards to a single player.  Their offensive line was simply overpowering the Noles D-line for the majority of the game, and the amount of missed tackles were reminiscent to a pop warner game.  We (including myself) continue to make excuses for FSU’s slow starts, but that must end now because a slow start against the bulk of the teams left on our schedule will end up resulting in a loss.  

            If it weren’t for Jameis Winston and the high-powered offense, this game could have easily been the dream shattering upset that Nole fans and media have come to expect from a Jimbo Fisher run team.  The offense amassed 489 total yards with 330 of them coming from the arm of the talented freshman.  While those numbers will fool a stat reader, the offense showed numerous areas where improvement will be essential.  The offensive line play had me furious from start to finish.  The telling stat of their poor execution is not only found in the four sacks that they allowed, but the fact that Jameis Winston was the teams’ leading rusher with only 67 yards.  Winston was constantly running for his life, keeping plays alive with his feet.  Not to knock Boston College, but to think that their talent level on the defensive line manhandled our veteran group of offensive lineman could be a huge weakness as the season progresses.  The good news of the lines’ poor play is it seemed to stem from poor execution and not the talent that these guys have.  Hopefully these problems can be fixed before it is too late.

            Maryland couldn’t have come to town on a better weekend for both parties.  For the Terrapins, they are coming off of a bye week, which gives them an extra week to prepare for one of the best opponents that they will face this season.  Their offense is rolling and is 2nd in the ACC in total yards, ahead of the high-powered offense of Clemson.  They also catch the Seminoles fresh off of a less than stellar performance against Boston College where a lot of weaknesses were brought to the surface. 

            For Florida State, facing the Terrapins before the dynamic Clemson Tigers offense should be extremely beneficial.  Maryland has a decently mobile quarterback in C.J. Brown, who is efficient on the ground as well as through the air.  This should give the Noles defense a dress rehearsal for the dual threat Heisman front-runner Tajh Boyd.  Maryland will not only prepare the defense for Boyd, but it will also test their ability to cover dynamic playmakers at the receiver position.  The Terps have Stefon Diggs who is an unbelievable playmaker and drew comparison to Percy Harvin out of high school.  Diggs will give a preview to how the Noles will handle Sammy Watkins of Clemson, who is arguably the best playmaker in the nation.

            Jimbo Fisher better have his troops firing on all cylinders from the first sound of the gun on Saturday, or the Seminoles could be in big trouble.  It will be interesting to see how the offensive line handles a Maryland unit that is tied for the nations lead in sacks after struggling immensely against Boston College.  With the schedule only getting harder, it is time for this team to make the necessary adjustments to become elite.               

Noles Backfield Suddenly Loaded

Sep 27, 2013 -- 2:05pm

Alex Turko (@aturko_23)

            Like a mad chemist, Jimbo Fisher has fused together a backfield overflowing with elite talent.  A position that looked to be lacking depth has quickly become an elite unit with the addition of former safety and 5-star athlete Karlos Williams.  Williams is not your usual 6 foot 1, 230 pound football player.  He has started a game at linebacker, saw the field at safety, and started on special teams since day 1.  But this big hitter could never find his niche on the defensive side of the ball, and Fisher knew the more this guy was on the field, the better off the team would be.

            James Wilder Jr. has proven he is this offense'spowerback, carrying multiple defenders for extra yards every time he touches the football.  He is the best North-South runner the Noles have had since Greg Jones, and prides himself on lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow to oncoming defenders before toppling to the ground.  However, Wilder is not known for his breakaway speed, or elusive moves that lead to huge gains.  His counterpart Devonta Freeman, is your traditional running back that is extremely productive and efficient with the ball in his hands.  Freeman does it all from catching passes, busting long runs, to pass blocking, but he is by no means flashy.

            Enter Karlos Williams.  The first touch of Williams’ career went for a 65 yard gain, igniting the excitement of his potential at his new position.  Williams is unbelievably fast, and when he gets some green in front of him, it looks like he was shot out of a cannon as he gallops away from defenders.  What is so scary about Williams he is not shy of contact and is by no means small.  With his 230 pound frame he drags defenders around like rag dolls.  He has the power of Wilder Jr. and the speed of a stallion. 

            At first I was skeptical to buy into Williams position move because I was still salivating at the thought of him flying across the field separating the football from potential receivers.  It only took two games for me to come around to the thought that he might have been the missing link to this offense.  With two extremely productive and proven running backs in front of him, he is the final piece to this offensive puzzle.  He is the home run hitter out of the backfield that Fisher has been searching for.       

Fisher will now have a hard time distributing carries between these three skilled running backs. Williams has had two games to adjust to his new position, and looks ready to give the Seminoles an extremely productive running game.  The three-headed monster is real, and it’s coming for the Boston College Eagles this weekend.   

Slow Start Doesn't Slow Noles

Sep 20, 2013 -- 10:44am

Alex Turko (@aturko_23)

            Nevada stumbled into Doak Campbell Stadium last weekend without their starting quarterback, Cody Fajardo, and all hopes of a stunning upset seemed to be on the bench with him.  After the 1st quarter many Seminole fans were becoming restless as the home team found themselves down 7-3 early into the 2nd quarter.  Jameis Winston showed his first sign of mortality and threw his first career interception in front of the Seminole faithful.  The defense once again had a slow start, as they were gashed up the middle on multiple accounts.

            This team thrives on emotion and the stale play in the 1st quarter was evident to anyone watching the game.  The Seminoles came out flat and had that sense of entitlement as if they could beat Nevada just by stepping out onto the field.  But before the game got out of hand they were brought back down to earth by their young general, Jameis Winston.  The best thing that happen to Jameis that afternoon, was throwing an early interception.

            Winston strides for perfection more than any player I’ve seen, and this early blunder forced him to flip the switch and play like the potential Heisman candidate that he is.  He went on to complete the rest of his passing attempts throughout the game, going 13 for 13, and igniting his team with the swagger that stems from his play.  The fans and players alike, knew it was time to put this game out of reach after his beautiful touchdown pass placed perfectly in the back corner of the end zone where only Kenny Shaw could come down with it. 

            After the game Winston admitted to being too “crunk” (or hyped up for the older folk) for his first home game, causing his poor play early on.  After the defense got the better of him on the pick, you could see him turn this game into a personal battle to destroy the opponent; and destroy he did. 

            With the offense rolling, the defense also turned it around, not allowing Nevada to score the rest of the game.  They made a slight adjustment to shut down the runs up the middle, and started forcing the plays outside, allowing the 2nd and 3rd level defenders to come up and make a play.  The Wolfpack’s backup quarterback was hobbled by a lower leg injury and the defense was able to settle down and focus on the running backs.  Once again Jeremy Pruitt’s squad got a turnover, proving that his new aggressive style will force plenty of mistakes throughout the season.  A huge positive to this new staff has been their ability to make in-game adjustments on the fly.  I look forward to seeing this defense continue to fine-tune their art before the have to take on the high-octane offense of Clemson October 19th

            I saw a lot of things improved upon from the Pitt game, namely the play of the defensive ends and the addition of Karlos Williams to the backfield.  The ends did a much better job sealing the edges against this option attack and you could tell that this was a specific point of emphasis from the coaches in preparation for the game.  The Noles seem to be on a crash course from here on out to face the Clemson Tigers in an almost sure-fire College Gameday match-up in Death Valley.  With neither team projected to lose before this game, the winner of that game will undoubtedly win the ACC Atlantic division.  Each game from here on out should heighten the interest of fans, as we watch the Seminoles add more plays and diversity to an already successful team in order to work out all of the kinks before that epic battle.              

Slow Start, Dynamic Finish vs. Nevada

Sep 16, 2013 -- 4:15pm

By: Nick O'Bryan (@doorstepjax)

You may have been a bit concerned if you were watching what seemed to be a sluggish start for the Noles in the home opener in Tallahassee this weekend.  That concern was short lived and soon the true depth of the Florida State roster would be on display for the majority of the game.  So...what did we learn this weekend, and what can we take away moving forward?

Pros: 

-Touchdowns by 4 separate running backs, one of which is a former DB in Karlos Williams.  When you see that he is 6’1 223 lbs. you may think that he would be a true threat up the middle as a punisher, much like a fullback.  However, Williams as a high school sprinter showed that a big man can pull away with the best of them which he did on his first ever carry, pulling down a 64 yard TD run.

-         Jameis Winston throws an interception.  Yes, this is a positive when you look over the length of a game.  It is important to have someone as amazing and yet young as Winston is to keep a level and grounded approach.  Winston fell into rhythm in the second quarter and ran the offense with 2 TD passes, a rushing TD, and not a single incomplete pass after the second quarter. 

-         A balanced attack.  Nothing can help Jameis Winston in the passing game like developing and utilizing an effective run game.  This seemed a bit sluggish against Pitt, but was on full display in Tallahassee on Saturday.

-         An Offensive line that is healthy and effective.  The boys upfront looked good on Saturday, holding blocks and creating holes for the run game.  This was an area that I wanted to see improve after a few years of a line that has left much to be desired, and was plagued with injury.  Coach Trickett has so far earned the most improved of the position coaches in my opinion. 

Cons:

-There is only one thing that isn’t a positive from this week’s victory.  A slow start.  The past two games have both started a bit sluggishly for the Noles, as they seem to be feeling out the offense on one side of the ball, and trying to develop a game plan to score on the other.  I don’t mean to sound like a brat, as I am certainly aware of the final score in both games, but if you plan on beating fast paced and explosive offenses like let’s say……Clemson, you have to start the game with a plan in motion and keep tempo and momentum in your corner from the start.  I have every confidence that this is improve, and will be a point of emphasis moving into the bulk of the conference schedule which is coming up.

Much Improvement Possible for Noles

Sep 13, 2013 -- 12:19pm

Alex Turko (@aturko_23)

            Although the national excitement and hype has been watered down by the bye week, local Florida State fans are flocking to the home opener against Nevada.  It’s been rumored that a substantial amount of tickets have been sold in the aftermath of Jameis Winston’s amazing debut against Pittsburgh.  The final score of that Labor Day match-up doesn’t show all of the weaknesses that this football team has.  Heading into the Nevada game this Saturday, I want to see a couple of improvements before I start buying into the hype of this 10th ranked Seminole football team.

            First and foremost, I want to see improvement at the defensive end position.  Against Pitt, the defensive ends continually failed to seal the edge and stretch the running play out to the sideline.  I think schematically the ends were put in the right position to make plays, but the personnel was wrong.  Pruitt was clearly trying to match-up with the size of the Pitt offensive line by starting two defensive tackles, Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample, at the end spot.  While these are 2 talented linemen, they struggled to seal the edge on multiple occasions, and looked lost on jet sweeps and reverses.  I’m looking to see Mario Edwards Jr., Chris Casher, and freshman Demarcus Walker have more success on the stretch plays and have much more of an impact than the starters from last week.  Against the speedy pistol offense that Nevada runs, the defensive end spot will be one of the more important positions on the entire defense.  When these three players were in at end, there was a lot more pressure in the backfield and much more productivity on the edge.

                Another key storyline will be how consistent redshirt freshman superstar Jameis Winston can be in his 2nd career start.  He set the bar extremely high after completing 25 of his 27 attempts in his first collegiate game.  Whether it is fair or not, Winston is going to be held to a very high, almost unrealistic standard by the fans and media when he plays his first game in Doak this weekend.  Fans must keep it in perspective that this kid is just a redshirt freshman and some bumps in the road should be expected.  I’d like to see Winston come out Saturday and only throw two incompletions as much as anyone, but that’s just not realistic to have a performance that impressive.  He may not ever have another game where he only throws two incompletions to go along with his five accounted touchdowns, but by no means will that make him a bad quarterback.  It will be very interesting to see how well he performs in front of the home crowd, following up the all-star performance he had in week 1 that garnered all of that national praise.

            There are a lot of positives that I would love to see carry over from their blow out victory including the hurry-up offense.  The hurry-up keeps the defense guessing  and we saw it with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night football.  It makes substitutions near impossible, causing fatigue among the defensive players on the field.  The hurry-up allows the offense to dictate the game and forces the defense to adjust instead of the other way around.  We saw Jameis benefit from this exponentially, as he was able to get into a rhythm with his receivers.  The defense was busy catching their breath and adjusting to the offenses’ alignment, instead of getting pressure on the young quarterback. 

I also want to see more of the blitzing and versatility of the defensive players that was shown in Week 1.  Christian Jones had a very productive night coming off the edge blitzing and Pruitt even lined him up at defensive end.  I also liked seeing Joyner in the nickel, much more than on the outside, where he was consistently beat on the inside release.  Joyner is a very talented blitzer, and reached the quarterback twice that night, leading me to think he is better suited at nickel and safety where he has more freedom.  But I think the biggest positive to take out of the Pitt game was how Jimbo Fisher called the game coming out of halftime with the big lead.  We’ve seen multiple times in Jimbo’s career here, especially against N.C. State, where the Noles would go into the locker room with a big lead, and come out flat in the second half with horrible play calling.  It would be run after run which would give the ball right back to the opposing team.  We will see Saturday if the deficiencies have been corrected, and if the successes carry over.                  

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