Florida State 2015, Who Are These Guys?

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The 2015 Florida State University football team has yet to find its identity, after Saturday’s game against Wake Forrest in Winston-Salem, this will most likely remain the case.

Offensively, a heavy running attack seemed to be FSU’s calling card but Boston College put a halt to talk of “Dalvin Cook for Heisman,” by limiting him to 54 yards on 15 carries. Compounding the confusion is the fact that backup running back Mario Pender suffered a collapsed lung in practice and will miss at least the next two games. Coach Jimbo Fisher has said both, 5-star recruit, Jacques Patrick and Sophomore Jonathan Vickers have been getting practice reps and both should get some work in Pender’s stead. If I was a betting man, I would put my dough on Patrick seeing the lion’s share of the work in the back up role, but it is anyone’s guess as to how that actually turns out.

At wide receiver, The FSU roster boasts a slew of blue chip talent, yet drops and bad routes have plagued them early this season. The disappointing efficacy the receiving unit has exhibited may help explain why fifth-year Senior QB Everett Golson, a transfer student from Notre Dame, has yet to finding his footing in the FSU offense. Golson has thrown for 282 yards in two games this season against FCS schools. In FSU’s last contest, at Boston College, Golson could amassed a mere 119 yards through the air, as he suffered 3 dropped passes, was sacked twice, and fled from pressure all night.

There are enough fair excuses for Golson’s early mediocre production and he should not shoulder the blame by himself. The offensive line is not exempt from FSU’s identity crisis as it has been shuffled through the first three games and will be again come Saturday. The aforementioned struggles of the receiver unit have played a role in the passing attack’s inefficiency as well as the fact that Golson is still learning the playbook after arriving on Campus in late May. Also, it seems that Jimbo Fisher really hasn’t taken the training wheels off of the offense yet this season. The defense has carried the team thus far and a game situation has yet to arise that would force Golson to win the game with his arm.

Given the strong play of the defense, Golson’s reputation for turning the ball over, and the fact that FSU hasn’t needed to rely on Golson’s arm, it makes sense to limit him to high percentage short throws while he acclimates to Fisher’s system. Nonetheless, given all of these external forces that have factored into Golson production in the early going, some among the FSU fan base are starting to call for backup QB Sean Maguire to take the helm. I am not one of those people, but the clamoring only lends credence to my point that FSU has yet to find its identity in 2015.

Some may argue that the defense has been lights out so far, and FSU is a team with a shutdown defense and a conservative, run-heavy offense. That argument is defensible, and may very well end up being true. FSU has shutdown each of its three opponents, surrendering a combined total of 30 points. Even with Dalvin’s poor performance against BC, the running game has carried the offense with 642 yards over the first three games. With those things in mind, I would concede that yes, the running game is the key to the offense. Also, I would agree that the defense has improved from last year, but to what extent?  Can Texas State, USF, and Boston College truly be used as a measuring stick to determine future FSU success? Anyone that would answer that question in the affirmative is pumping sunshine.

The one thing that can be taken away from the first three performances of 2015, is that FSU has not shown much of how they plan to employ their passing attack on offense and how the will use their blitz packages on defense. Golson has b

been relegated to short passes over the first three games and what we know for sure is that this offense will run through Dalvn Cook. On the defensive side, FSU has rushed 5 or more defenders less than 17% of the time while averaging two sacks per game and generating considerably more pressure than they were at this point last season with just a four-man rush. Look for more base package looks against Wake Forrest.

So, will we know FSU’s true identity after the Wake Forrest game? I doubt it. Wake Forrest is a terrible football team and I expect no more than six points from them against FSU. Since 2011, which saw the Demon Deacons upset the ‘Noles 35-30, they have scored a combined SIX points against FSU in three games. Weather conditions are expected to be dreadful. Heavy rain is expected as Hurricane Joaquin pushes toward the Carolinas, so expect to see another conservative game plan from Fisher.

Consider the inclimate weather and the superior talent level of their opponent, the Deacs’ offense is in for a long dreary afternoon. Wake Forrest is another cream filled opponent on what has been a cupcake Seminoles’ schedule. The Seminole’s strength of schedule has been weaker than clock radio speakers and it’s going to be hard to peg FSU as any particular type of team once the final whistle blows on this one.

I expect a bland attack from both the FSU offense and defense this Saturday in Winston-Salem. Look for them to stay on the ground and limit Golson to high percentage throws. On the defensive side of the ball, it makes sense that defensive coordinator will continue to utilize the base defensive package and rely on his athlete’s to react and make plays.

FSU wins this one easy 34-6.

Looking ahead to Miami


Not being able to figure out the FSU attack going into their rivalry game against Miami isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Military forces around the world invest heavily in reconnaissance efforts to identify the tendencies of their enemies, in order to develop offensive and defensive strategies. Well, if former Miami Hurricane tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. is correct, football is war and the players are soldiers. This being so, the Hurricanes will be at a tactical disadvantage when they roll into Doak-Campbell stadium on October 10th. The ‘Nole offense and defense have been very vanilla thus far and there will be very little nuance to analyze during film study. I think Jimbo throws Golson the keys to the Ferrari against Miami, then we will really get to see what FSU has under the hood.

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