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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