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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Florida State-Syracuse Recap

If you think Matt Millen is better as a TV announcer than a General Manager, you are probably wrong.  And Florida State fans were quick to criticize Millen’s color commentary yesterday.  However, those fans are pretty quick to take any media member to task who fails to bask in the glory of all that is the Seminoles.  So take that for what its worth.  The game?  Pretty good for both teams, actually.

First, from a Florida State perspective… while top 10 teams have been stubbing their toes quite often lately, Florida State keeps winning.  Granted… it has been against NC State, Wake Forest, and Syracuse so far (combined 0-7 in conference play), but these three teams brought good versions of their possible performances to play FSU.  And FSU responded by defeating all three.

Jameis Winston may be making the news for the wrong reasons, but there is no denying his talent as a QB.  He looks just way too good against the lesser teams in college football… a man amongst boys.  It will be interesting to see how he does against a Notre Dame defense that has looked decent all year–with the exception of yesterday.  But Winston has the tools, and the personnel on his side of the ball, to put up monster numbers every week.  He is an NFL-ready quarterback.  Seminoles fans need to enjoy it.

Defensively, you have to wonder a bit about a defense that allows Syracuse–minus its three best offensive players–to put up even 20 points.  Plus, Syracuse shot itself in the foot a number of times yesterday.  Florida State allowed backup WRs to get open, and allowed inexperienced QBs to avoid having to deal with too much pressure.  That has to be THE area of concern for Florida State right now.  Syracuse’s reeling offense did not look entirely overmatched.  Every remaining offense in 2014 for Florida State’s defense will be better than the Cuse.  Florida State needs to get better too.

In the end, I am sure Florida State wanted to win by a lot more than 18 points.  But, as usual, they had to deal with a great effort by an opponent.  Florida State has an incredible offense, the best kicker in football, and one of the great college coaches.  Whether they win it all again this year will likely hinge on whether its offense can stay healthy and whether its defense can continue to improve.  That is all.  Oh, and not losing Winston.

Second, from a Syracuse perspective, an 18-point loss is a step in the… right direction?  Yes, it was.

The defense remains an issue.  They are forcing turnovers lately, but they are missing tackles in quantities that will necessarily prevent the team from making a bowl game.  At its core, football is a game of blocking and tackling, and Syracuse is failing miserably at the latter.  Frankly, it is perplexing that Scott Shafer is not questioned more about this.  This is not an anomaly, this is a trend.  Turnovers are nice, but that also requires errors by the opponent–something that is not always certain to happen.  Yet, despite all that, giving up 38 points to Florida State was an admirable job.

The offense finally looked to have some rhythm.  This was a shock.  Syracuse lost its starting QB–the only one with more than 1 game of experience on the roster.  Enter two new QBs.  Syracuse demoted its offensive coordinator and gave the playcalling duties to Tim Lester.  And yet there was rhythm.  If there was any doubt as to the role of playcalling/coaching, it is gone now.  The calls were coming in quick.  There were only a few headscratchers (the third down run in the red zone from the 7 yard line).  But Syracuse ran the ball fairly well and passed the ball with some success against a superior set of athletes.  Something to build on.  Suddenly, 2-4 Syracuse looks more likely to win 4 more games than 2-3 Syracuse did.  That is the difference that decent coaching can make.

Finally, this was a good, hard-nosed ACC game.  A more talented team was given some punches by a less talented team playing with a lot of heart.  The better team handled those punches.  The worse team kept giving them.  The two teams were headed in different directions entering the game, now both seem ready to trend… up.

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8 thoughts on “Florida State-Syracuse Recap

  1. I disagree with your assessment of the playcalling. It was better, but I think that had more to do with the accuracy and decision-making of the QBs.

    I honestly believe that Hunt was trying to do too much, was making bad reads, and had a hard time understanding what was going on. I also suspect that the playcalling / miscommunication was largely on him. He took way too long long making his reads, often rushed plays, and his poor accuracy really hurt the team. Our wins last year were because of what Hunt did with his legs, not his arm. But when he ran too much, his accuracy went down.

    Lester did call a good game, but his redzone calls were bad. At least McD had some creativity to try and get things to open up better in the redzone.

    SU now has the benefit of having Lester in the booth and McDonald on the sidelines (they have both been in the booth since middle of last season), and McDonald did a great job coaching up the players on the side – which I think that is a winning combination.

    I do like how Lester used PTG, and used the run game to set-up the passing game. Not crazy about some of the AAM runs, and I think the playbook for Long was getting exhausted by the 3rd/4th quarters so they were reverting to more bubble screens (but were more effective).

    Tim Lester may very well be our best coach on the team, he definitely has the most Head Coaching experience and seemed to transition well into his new OC role. I think we can expect continued success/improvement from the offense – provided they can stay healthy.

    One thing to keep in mind though is that FSU likely had very little scouting of AJ Long, and may have spent more time preparing for Wilson. So there was some uncertainty as to his tendencies, and just how much of a threat he can be running.

    I do expect continued improved from Long, but WtF will have more video to watch and better prepare for him.

    • At least McD had some creativity to try and get things to open up better in the redzone. — you mean when we got desperate against Louisville???? Those would have been in the playbook if not used against the Cards last week.

      • Yes, absolutely when we got desperate against L’ville. Desperate times call for desperate actions, and the inability to move the ball in the redzone warrants some creative plays.

        Syracuse isn’t the only team with redzone struggles…the eagles under Chip Kelly this year immediately comes to mind for teams that have great offensive weapons but cannot punch it in.

        I liked that they tried to go with a TANK package and brought out some heavy hitters from the defense, its a shame that there was a penalty.

        • Of course. But McDonald had trouble getting the offense to punch it in for a few weeks before going to trickery. He doesn’t get points for resorting to same. It is more of a negative on the resume.

        • I’m not knocking anyone for trying trick plays or gimmicky plays at any point in the season. Frankly,I’d like to see more of them. As far as I’m concerned, the Offense can do whatever it takes to get in the end zone.

  2. A little rough on us Noles, no??? I am not on twitter, so maybe I am missing something? (Ever since I learned that the library of congress actually records every tweet out there I just felt it was not a good idea to tweet my mind -true story look it up, kind of nuts they do that-)

    Also, I told you Syracuse would give my Noles a harder time than you thought. I think M Caffrey hit the nail on the head. The scouting was an issue. FSU’s D was adjusting to a slightly adjusted O all game it seemed. Also, injuries were prevalent. I think FSU had not been this banged up since 2011. Finally FSU was playing very conservative all the way around. Jimbo, excluding last year, has been known to reign in the game plan just before big games. I am certain he and the team, rightly or wrongly, were peaking ahead.

    None of this is to say FSU is not flawed, as they very much are. That D is still an issue, but they have greatness but are very raw. When Watson was playing they actually looked the best against him compared to other teams when he played more than 10 snaps in a game. I also think every team is saving their best stuff for FSU. NCSU clearing did that. This season reminds me of the early 2000s when the rest of the conference circled FSU and gave them all they could handle.

    I wanted to mention some positive. Is it me or does the back up center for FSU look far better than Barron did? I mean FSU was easily running the ball at times, more so than they did when Barron was in.

    Finally, if ND thinks they are putting 50 on FSU this week, it is doubtful. Truth is most teams who have flukish 50 point type games one week usually retract heavily the next. ND has had a decent offense, but it has been far from amazing. I think they emptied the barrel against UNC, and I wonder if they have the bullets to make Herbie smile on Gameday.

    • Finally, if ND thinks they are putting 50 on FSU this week, it is doubtful.

      I don’t know about that. You did give up 41 to NC St and I’m sure that ND is far more talented than the Wolfpack.

  3. Okl St has a better offense than ND, and they didn’t. NCSU played a soft schedule before FSU, and saved all their tricks for that game. I would not read too much into the score. If NCSU played Clemson or another decent ACC team (shoot any power 5 level team) the week prior to FSU, I doubt they get off to the start they did. They had many wrinkles in that game. Also this game will be in Tally… not Raleigh… I think location had a lot to do with that NCSU game result. For some reason FSU hates Raleigh… not sure what the problem is with that location.

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