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.