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Football | Page 9

Florida State pass defense will be the key on Saturday

Author // Adam Tolliver

As the Seminoles gear up for their Saturday matchup with Wake Forest, the usual excitement surrounding a game is noticeably missing. This may be true for several reasons, one being that many do not perceive the Demon Deacons as a serious threat but I think the prevailing mood among FSU fans is more reserved curiosity than excitement. After losing two straight games, many have questioned just how good (or bad) this Seminole team is. They travel on the road to face a Wake Forest team that has been disproportionately more successful in the passing game as opposed to the run.

Lamarcus JoynerContrary to what many seem to believe, the Florida State defense has proven to be outstanding against the run this season. With that being said, with Wake Forest being largely unsuccessful in the running game thus far and FSU doing a great job of stopping it, much of the game will hinge on Tanner Price's ability to drop back and make plays with his arm. Two things to watch closely will be how much pressure Florida State is able to get on Price throughout the day and how well the secondary bounces back after a rough day against Clemson two weeks ago.

The Demon Deacons have depended heavily on the abilities of Chris Givens through the first four games of the season. He accounts for nearly 30% of the team's total receptions and 50% of the team's receiving touchdowns on the year. The next most prominent threat at receiver is senior Danny Dembry, who has recorded 19 of his 29 career catches this season. With Greg Reid returning to the lineup this weekend for the Seminoles, the FSU defense becomes more flexible in coverage and will likely employ much more nickel than they were able to against Clemson. The defensive unit altogether will be looking to be much more sound at the second and third levels of the defense. While Givens is quite the player, he will not be going up against the likes of NC State, a depleted Boston College secondary or talent comparable to Syracuse or Gardner-Webb. If Florida State forces Wake Forest into becoming one dimensional, this game could get quite ugly for the home crowd.

Florida State's defensive line has continued to look excellent against both the run and in pass rushing situations. If they apply adequate pressure early, the Demon Deacons will be significantly stifled. While Tanner Price has looked pretty good all year, he has not sustained very many long drives and has benefited repeatedly from short field due to solid special teams play. Florida State has done a great job of winning the field position battle through four games and on Saturday it will yet again be crucial.

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The Best of the Best: FSU vs Wake Forest

Author // Reginald Eller

With a 23-5-1 all-time record for Wake Forest – the Florida State Seminoles have enjoyed much success versus the Demon Deacons.  Today we re-visit some of the greatest individual performances by a Seminole versus Saturday’s opponent, Wake Forest.

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Florida State fans will learn a lot about their Biggest Rivals in October

Author // Adam Tolliver

One of the biggest components of college football fandom is keeping at least a slight eye on the state of your most hated rivals. The month of October is a big one for each of Florida's "Big 3" for different reasons. In Florida State's case, the Seminoles have what is rightfully deemed an easy road that could allow them to reel off four straight wins and enter the home stretch of the season with serious momentum and confidence. For the Miami Hurricanes, who are currently a program suffering much turmoil off the field, it could determine whether or not the Noles' rivals down south enter November above .500. Lastly, the Florida Gators have to run a gauntlet of extremely tough and physical games that could spell out how successful Will Muschamp's first season as head coach is.

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Closer Look: Wake Forest QB Tanner Price

Author // Reginald Eller

This Saturday the Florida State Seminoles (2-2 – 0-1) will be in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to battle the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-1 – 2-0) in a very important contest for FSU in an attempt to get in the win column in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Following the loss at Clemson – and then Clemson’s big win on the road versus Virginia Tech, FSU’s chances of making it to the ACC Championship game have been diminished – but the goal has not been erased.  All FSU can do at this point – is face each opponent as it is their last, and this week Wake is the last.

The catalyst for the Wake Forest offense, and the feature for us today, is Sophomore signal-caller Tanner Price – simply put, if you stop him you stop Wake. 

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Time for a Youth Movement? (Part II)

Author // Adam Tolliver


Last week, we discussed some of the potential moves that could be made on the offensive side of the ball in order to correct a few issues. Despite an obviously less than satisfactory showing in last week's matchup with the Clemson Tigers, the Florida State defense does not have as many problems as may be perceived. That being said, there are certain concerns that will need to be addressed in order for the Seminoles to make strides towards dominance on defense. A wealth of mental errors and penalties made for a much uglier outcome than desired on the road last week. Today, we will discuss if changes are necessary and if so, which will be made.

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Time for a Youth Movement?

Author // Adam Tolliver

At this critical juncture in what is still a very young football season, the question on the minds of a lot of Florida State fans is whether or not it is time for a roster moves to be made. The question only holds more weight when dealing with a team like the Seminoles, which is filled with young talent from the recent recruiting classes that have yet to make their marks on the field of play. The biggest aspect for Florida State fans to remember - is that this team is not in bad shape at all overall, despite the disappointing back to back losses suffered to Oklahoma and Clemson. If you were to look at this team by position group, you would recognize many more positives and few very serious issues. Nonetheless, those issues do exist and they are quite glaring.

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The Seminoles Road Through the ACC: Which Way will they Go?

Author // Reginald Eller

Depending on the age group you speak to in the Florida State fan base, losing an ACC opener should not be a new feeling to the Seminoles.

From 1992 - when FSU joined the ACC - until 1995, the Florida State Seminoles did not know what it was like to lose a conference game.  FSU was perfect through the ‘92, ‘93, and ‘94 seasons in the ACC.  It was not until November 2, 1995 that this program tasted defeat in its new conference. That's the Thursday night when the 24th-ranked, Tiki Barber-led Virginia Cavaliers ended the undefeated streak at 29.

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Florida State Receivers show a Bright Future ahead

Author // Adam Tolliver

With a gang of injuries plaguing the Florida State receiving corps last week, there was considerable concern in regards to how the young group would step up to the plate at Death Valley on Saturday. In recent years, FSU fans have awaited the arrival of young playmakers that are ready to step in and create the type of big plays that all college football fans enjoy to see. It is an element of the FSU offense that has not been as prevalent as many would like, but with this young group, that appears to be changing for the better in the foreseeable future.

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Week 4: UNCONQUERED Gameballs

Author // Adam Tolliver

Despite the second straight disappointing loss, this time at the hands of conference opponent Clemson, there were some positives to take away from Saturday's game in the individual performance department. As Florida State continues to grow and gel as a team and as the season marches on, we will surely continue to see certain names continue to pop up in our gameball discussions. This week, the strongest individual performances have a heavy offensive slant for the most part, which is not what people make have expected coming into the Clemson matchup.

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A Closer Look: What Went Wrong Versus Clemson

Author // Reginald Eller

Opportunity to begin ACC play flawless was lost Saturday afternoon for the Florida State Seminoles (2-2, 1-0)—the goal to become ACC Champions again was not.


As I wrote in post-game Saturday, the mental lapses and defense were just too much to overcome.  A good team takes what happened Saturday in stride as a learning experience, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn from as FSU gets a much needed bye week.

We will travel back through the game that was and point out not only what went wrong but areas that improvements will need to be made for the Seminoles to get back on the winning track as they continue their road to Charlotte, North Carolina for the ACC Championship Game.

We start with the very first offensive play by the Clemson Tigers.

Florida State received the ball first in the game, and produced a very impressive drive considering all the questions marks the Seminoles had offensively.  

FSU Head Coach Jimbo introduced the "Wildcat" on the Seminoles first play that went for 13 yards.  Little did we know that would be the long run of the evening for FSU. The Seminoles drove the ball 67 yards before stalling and were able to get on the board first with a Dustin Hopkins field goal.

As sharp as Tajh Boyd was on the night- there were several mistakes made by the Clemson (4-0 1-0) signal caller.  The Seminoles were only able to take advantage of one.


On that first offensive play of the game Tajh Boyd, with nerves probably on high, attempted to force a pass to DeAndre Hopkins.  Unsure if Tajh did not see Vince Williams or not but it was a perfect pass to the FSU linebacker.  

Undermanned, FSU needed to take advantage of mistakes like this and time after time they failed to do so.

After missing an opportunity at an interception, Andre Ellington rushed for a gain of three yards giving FSU a very quick three-and-out chance.

FSU vs Clemson Review DeAndre Hopkins Seminoles

I point out the very first third down for Clemson because this, like the missed interception, became a trend in this ball game.  Now you have to tip your hat to DeAndre Hopkins who made a superb play after the catch, stopping, and reversing his motion to get the first down.  The FSU linebackers did over pursue but this was more about DeAndre than anything else.  Great play.

Sammy Watkins Catch versus FSU


Following the first down reception by DeAndre Hopkins and a Pass Interference on Xavier Rhodes, Tajh Boyd hit Sammy Watkins on a quick pass.  As pictured above, this is another case where you give credit where credit is due.  Super freshman, Sammy Watkins delivers a tremendous stiff arm but from a Florida State perspective you would like to see a better effort by Mike Harris in either making the tackle or using a better angle to force Watkins out of bounds.  Instead of what could have been a 3-6 yard gain, Sammy went for twenty yards and the Clemson first down. 


On the play you see here, Sammy Watkins is to the left in the highlighted area and as they bring him back over the middle, Jaron Brown goes out to the left.


Two points of emphasis I see here, the first being Vince Williams is in horrible position to take away any throw from a streaking Sammy Watkins and secondly instant confusion sets in with the safety and corner who choose to stay with Brown.


By the time Vince Williams is in any position to read the Quarterback, the ball is in the air.

The Safety went with Jaron Brown and even if the corner bites down on Sammy, at this point it is too late.


With the catch, Sammy Watkins has an easy first touchdown for the Clemson Tigers.

The breakdown in coverage on the play was in multiple areas.  Number one, you have to key in on a talent like Sammy Watkins over Jaron Brown.  Two, the much tougher throw would have been to Jaron Brown over the top and across the field rather than relying on Vince Williams to be in proper position with no help over the top.

After a three-and-out by the FSU offense, Clemson returned to the field.  Two opening rushes by Andre Ellington netted the Tigers a first down.  Clemson attempted a give to Sammy Watkins which was well defended, which was followed by an incomplete pass by Tajh Boyd and a rush for no gain by Andre Ellington.  Florida State had forced Clemson into a punting situation.

Dawon Zimmerman Punt Florida State Penalty

Dawson Zimmerman Punt Florida State Penalty II

On fourth-and-one and Clemson punting, Florida State was able to get through to apply some pressure on the punt.  The problem, which would be repeated later, is the angle that Lamarcus Joyner took.

Now this was not a roughing the punter penalty, but with Clemson punting on fourth-and-one you simply have to know that the angle you have to take, if you attempt to block the punt, is to take the ball right off his foot and by no means can you put yourself in the position to even touch the punter.

Joyner did touch him much but it was enough, as pictured, which followed by an Academy Award winning performance by the punter afterwards with the flop and sell.

FSU could learn from what Zimmerman did here, and we will see that later.

DeAndre Hopkins catch

Instead of Florida State having the ball on offense, Clemson kept the ball and on the very next play a perfect pass from Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins put Clemson on the two-yard line.  Two plays later, another touchdown for Clemson making it 14-3.


Clint Trickett played a great game and after being relegated to your second string Quarterback you obviously want to careful not to dive deeper into your depth chart, but I noticed several times throughout the game, when the pocket collapsed, Trickett's reluctance to take what was given to him on the ground.

Clint completed the pass for six yards to Christian Green, however with the routes going to the left Clint had plenty of open field to possibly pick up more on the ground.

Trickett, on this drive, would hit Rodney Smith for a 57 yard touchdown to bring the score to 14-10.


On the opening drive of the second quarter by Clemson, the Tigers set up a trick play with the offensive lineman set up on the far right of the line of scrimmage on third-and-four.



This play was no fault of the Florida State defense.  They picked up what Clemson was going to do, and covered it beautifully.  Though it is hard to see from the screen shot above, the FSU defender was clearly playing the ball as pass interference was called on FSU giving Clemson a first down.

This at the minimum was a four-point swing, considering Clemson would have lined up for a field goal (which is never a certainty).  Two plays later Boyd connected with Tight end Dwayne Allen for a touchdown giving Clemson a 21-10 first half lead.

Down 21-10, on the first play of the next drive by FSU Clint Trickett threw an ill-advised pass which was intercepted by Quandon Christian.  I chose not to picture this, as it did not adversely affect the scoreboard (other than time off the clock) since Clemson could not capitalize. (Chandler Catanzaro missed a 35-yard FG)


Following the missed field goal by Clemson, one point of emphasis came during the next FSU drive.  Overall the young wide receivers played a great game, however on this play a pass which was intended for Christian Green two FSU receivers ended up in the same spot which obviously was an error by the Seminoles.  This was not a huge error that, in my opinion, cost FSU any points, but considering Clemson had a tough time covering the Seminoles down the field this is an example (one example) of what happens with youth and inexperience.


On the same drive, FSU punted.  Back to the flop by Clemson's Dawson Zimmerman, though it is hard to visually see it here, watching it back Shawn Powell is clearly touched by the Clemson defender.  Had Powell acted in the manner Zimmerman did, in my opinion FSU could have gotten the call returned.

Powell is not your normal punter.  He is one of the best in the country and a guy who will definitely play on Sunday's. I highly doubt you will ever see Powell take a dive, especially since he would much rather prefer get down the field and make a tackle but this is one of the small things that could have helped FSU stay in a drive.


On the next Clemson drive, there was another bad pass by Tajh Boyd which literally nailed the FSU linebacker in the helmet for an incomplete pass.  This play is very different than the near pick earlier in the game and since the wide receiver did not even know the ball was coming out when it did, it is hard to expect the linebacker to make the play.  This play would not be the last bad pass by Tajh Boyd in the game though.


Pictured is the very next drive by Florida State.  After two complete passes to Christian Green and Rashad Greene, FSU had just inches to convert for the first down.  

It is fair to question the play-call of the Trickett keeper.  When you have third-and-inches, somehow someway you have to convert this play, and it is hard to believe that Clint Trickett is your best option.  Lonnie Pryor, James Wilder, Devonta Freeman, really anyone at this point would have had a better chance at converting.  Hindsight is 20/20 and if FSU converts, we do not talk about it but they didn't and Clemson got the ball back following another punt.



Clemson got the ball back with 1:40 to go in the first half.

After a sack by Brandon Jenkins which made it 3rd-and-29 for Clemson, FSU called a timeout.  Following an Andre Ellington rush, Clemson would then call a timeout as the clock ticked to ten seconds.

The only error in this play is the angle that Lamarcus Joyner, again, took to the punter.  The correct call was made for FSU to go after the block.  With only ten seconds left in the half and Clemson punting there is zero to lose in going after it with the Tigers punting from inside their own ten yard line.

How Lamarcus Joyner missed the ball is still a mystery.  As you can see the ball is squarely on the foot of Dawson Zimmerman as Joyner is directly over the ball and leg of the punter.  Somehow, Zimmerman did get the ball off as Joyner collided with him instantly bringing out the penalty flag.

The flag did not hurt FSU, however we are left to wonder if Joyner, who was in perfect position, had blocked the punt and considering several FSU players were in the area it is possible and feesible that the Seminoles could have walked into the end zone.

Instead, FSU went into the half trailing Clemson 21-10.


Florida State received a huge break in their favor to start the second half when Tajh Boyd on second-and-six threw (or fumbled) an interception while scrambling away from the pressure.

Bjoern Werner was in the perfect spot to catch the ball on the fly, take it to the house, and give the Seminoles new life.



Florida State forced Clemson into a 3rd-and-11 on the next drive of the game, when Boyd attempted a pass to tight end Dwayne Allen.

Whether or not the ball was catchable is not the point here.  Sometimes the right decision is to interfere in order to resist giving up a big play, but to interfere when you do not see the ball and are already in fine position is absolutely an error.  The first contact came from Nigel just before the ball was thrown by Tajh Boyd, so where the ball ended up is irrelevant because it is unknown how much the interference hampered Dwayne Allen's route.  Then, after Nigel is running with Allen and the ball is in the air, he continues to use his left arm when it just is not needed.

In the end, this pass interference did not cost FSU any points but this does further illustrate the weakness FSU has from the linebackers, in particular Nigel Bradham, in coverage.

This interference extended the Clemson drive and added 50 yards to it which gave FSU their next starting point on offense from the 16 yard line.  



FSU punted on their next drive giving Clemson the ball at their own 30 yard line.

After two rushes by Andre Ellington (19 and 2), Tajh Boyd, again, made a bad throw into the FSU secondary which was intended for Jaron Brown.

The pass was read and picked up very quickly by the FSU Safety, Terrance Parks who cleanly broke in front of the receiver Jaron Brown.

FSU, being riddled with injuries had to have some big plays in this game to come through with the win.  This is another example of the Seminoles being unable to come through, giving Clemson new life.

Tajh Boyd was very good for mostly the entire game, but FSU missed, at the minimum, two high-percentage opportunities to change the outcome and momentum of this game.


If it was not bad enough that Parks was unable to make the much needed interception the very next play was just a big.

It was 3rd-and-8 for Clemson and the FSU defensive line penetrated the Clemson offensive line with ease.  Cam Erving had Tajh Boyd dead to rights, with no where to go, but when he latched on to Boyd's face mask, instead of Clemson punting from their own side of the field it gave Clemson a first down.

Clemson would continue this drive with a touchdown run by Andre Ellington pushing their lead from four to eleven.


One area I have not touched on were the holding calls, or lack thereof.

I counted numerous times the Clemson offensive line obviously holding the FSU defensive line in ranging degrees off severity.  Only once, though, was Clemson ever called for a hold. This is directed more at the incompetence of ACC Officials league-wide.  I would hope that the FSU coaching staff were in the ears of the officials, and if there were not they should have been.

What makes the game long no-calls worse is the call pictured above.  On 1st-and-10, following the Clemson touchdown, Chris Thompson was called for a hold that I still have not been able to find any evidence of.  Watching the game back, ESPN showed the aforementioned play a couple different times and what I saw was Chris Thompson doing what he was suppose to do.  He picked up the pressure coming to Trickett and leveraged him to the ground. (Pictured)


If you are going to have a brick wall this close to the end zone, It would be nice to extend the padding you already have a few yards to the left.  This could have been much worse.


While the holding call on Chris Thompson was a bad one, FSU would complete the drive with a touchdown.

Down five, with the touchdown, Jimbo Fisher elected to go for two to make it a three-point margin.  The conversion failed.

I openly state that hindsight is 20/20 but with 14:55 remaining on the clock, was it too early to make this decision?  In the end it may have made a difference.


Following the FSU touchdown and failed two-point conversion, Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen may of had the play of the game.

On 3rd-and-10, Tajh Boyd completed the pass where (as pictured) Dwayne Allen extended fully to make quite a remarkable catch for the huge first down.  If Dwayne Allen does not make this catch, FSU would of had full momentum in hand, and the ball back with plenty of time to take the lead.



Three plays after the great catch by Dwayne Allen, Tajh Boyd pump-faked the pass which did draw FSU defensive back Mike Harris in a step but not egregiously.

Whether or not there was dual contact by Sammy Watkins and Mike Harris, in the first shot of the play Watkins does have a full hand of Harris' jersey. Beyond that, there is more contact from Watkins, this time with the ball now released giving enough separation for the 62 yard touchdown pass giving Clemson the twelve-point lead.


At this point in the game Florida State and Clemson traded possessions of punts, before Florida State would put together a 1:20 touchdown drive to draw to within five points.

With 7:21 remaining in the game, Clemson would begin their last actual drive of the ball game.  

The end result of this play does not cost FSU points, but it is, yet again, another example of an area the FSU defense must correct moving forward.

On the play Dwayne Allen's route will lead him to the middle of the field where Nigel Bradham finds himself in no man's land.


On another 3rd-and-10, Tajh Boyd sees Nigel Bradham clearly in no position to defend Dwayne Allen over the middle as he releases the ball.


Nigel "recovers" about two seconds too late, which is an eternity on a single play.

By the time Nigel does get in position the ball is already by him and Dwayne Allen is free and clear.  The result is a 34 yard gain, and instead of forcing a three-and-out Clemson extends the drive another four minutes.

FSU would get the stop on 4th-and-1 to have another shot at the ball game.


The drive started off nicely with a Trickett-to-Greene completion for seven yards.  After a 2nd down incopletion, intended for Kenny Shaw, Trickett would again complete a pass to Rashad Greene for the FSU first down.

After two incompletions intended, both times, for Rashad Greene Clint Trickett would complete a pass to Christian Green for a six-yard pick up which would put FSU in a 4th-and-4 scenario.

Many things happened here that left me second-guessing, the first being the decision to call a timeout.  FSU appeared to have rhythm on the drive and being on the road in my opinion you never want to give your opposition a "break" to set up, nor do you want to give the opposing crowd even more time to raise the already ecstatic energy level.  By calling the timeout you put even more pressure on your offense, most of them being very young, to have much more going on their head than necessary.  The timeout was called, and FSU returned to the field to attempt a fourth-down try.  Whether it was nerves, atmosphere, or a combination of both, the false start by Rodney Smith made a 4th-and-4 less attainable by pushing the Seminoles back 5 yards.

On that final play, ESPN did not show an angle down the field but the play was unfolding nicely down the field for Clint Trickett to attack where Clemson had been unable to defend all game.  Rodney Smith, on a double-move, was streaking and appeared to be, if not wide open, open enough for a shot to be had.  Rennie Moore got through the FSU offensive line, getting the sack, and clinching the win for the Clemson Tigers.


Now as you can tell there were many flaws, mental lapses, errors in judgement, and bad calls against FSU.  

This loss is not on the bad calls.  There were enough opportunities inside the game, as we have detailed, that FSU still could have prevailed victorious.

This loss is also not on the offense either, or any lack of running game.  FSU did not need to rush the ball (as they didn't and were unable to do) to beat Clemson.  The Clemson Tigers were not very good against Clint Trickett, in his first career start, covering passes down the field.  The offense, even without a running game to speak of, was still effective enough to win this game.

Defensive errors and absolute mental lapses, in the end, cost FSU the game and the chance to start the season 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Moving forward now, FSU now has the opportunity to move some players around as well as give new players fresh looks.  I fully expect to see a great deal of snaps for Josue Matias and Tre' Jackson, both freshman, on the offensive line.  Getting EJ Manuel back will help the running game a great deal but with, what could be, a nagging injury to his non-throwing shoulder the importance of FSU to establish a ground game is paramount.  Freshman on an offensive line is, usually, not the best case scenario--however at this point it could not hurt.

The undermanned wide receiver corps have played phenomenally thus far, and I do not foresee any issues with them moving forward.  Getting a guy like Bert Reed back, though, would be welcomed.

Another area that I expect FSU fans may see some new looks at is the linebacker position.  When Telvin Smith has been in the game, he has shown great promise, not only against the run but in coverage which is obviously a large area of concern, and one that will be exploited by future opponents if not corrected. 

The time is now, for FSU to take this much needed bye week to get healthy and work out the issues at hand.

Now is it your turn Unconquered Nation.  Did you see more in the game that causes you concern?  Give us these thoughts and more on what you saw in the Clemson game in the comments section below.

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