9 comments on “aWAKEn The Post-Game: FSU Edition

  1. Michael,

    Great analysis, sad but all true. To your point regarding the kick return team, I think that FSU was intentionally not kicking touchbacks thinking they could pin us deeper by forcing us to return the kick, than if they kicked it into the endzone and having the ball come out to the 25 yard line. I’m sure the FSU kicker has plenty of leg to put into the endzone. Did you think that as well? If that was what they were doing, talk about not having any respect for our return game!!!

    • Thanks. I absolutely hate writing about our losses, it’s tough. Regarding the kicking game, I’m not really sure if that was their tactic but it very well could have been. The wind was blowing pretty good down there so that may have been a factor, but the kick it short strategy is something that our radio crew has discussed. If you can force the team to return it every time and you have confidence in your kickoff team then I think it is a great strategy. If that was indeed what they were doing to us, then it worked out in their favor. I don’t think you will ever see a coach admit to using that strategy though. It has always been tough for us to return it against the Noles because they always have such great speed on their kickoff unit. FSU and Clemson always field the fastest kickoff units in our league. Thanks for reading!

      • Great analysis, Michael. Regarding the kicking, that is indeed what FSU has decided to do with the new kickoff rule. Their kicker has talked about it in interviews. He was initially upset because he used to pride himself in getting touchbacks consistently. Now, however, the coaches have him focusing on hangtime, since the coverage team now has a 5 yard headstart with the new placement, allowing a great advantage if you have a kicker who is actually able to place his kickoffs. You’ll notice once the game was out of hand he started kicking them out of the back of the endzone to limit injury risk. Anyway, good luck to the Deacs the rest of the season!

      • This was absolutely the strategy. Dustin Hopkins has one of the strongest legs in the country. If he wanted to (which he did one time I believe), he could put it out of the endzone, and probably into the front row. You may remember that during the 80 yard run from Thompson there was a 15 yard penalty for side line interference, and FSU was forced to kick the ball from the 20 instead of the 35. That kick went inside the 5.

        This is a tactic FSU will surely use throughout the season given the ridiculous talent on special teams and the ability of Hopkins to kick it high and near the goal line. It’ll be interesting to see if FSU does this against Clemson and given Watkins big play ability.

      • Thanks for reading! It is absolutely an advantage for the Seminoles. They have the fastest kickoff cover team in the ACC. I noticed during the game that the kickoff team was hitting the 20 yard line as our returner was catching the football. It’s a definite advantage for your team. I’m interested to see how it works against Clemson as well.

  2. Are there personnel changes that we can make to aid our kick-off return efficiency, or in your opinion do we have our best options on the field? And, what are your thoughts on the 3-4 defensive alignment? Shouldn’t the 3-4 minimize the ability to cut back on running plays?

    Not sure why, but each season we seem to have one huge blow-game against us. Hopefully this will not erode our confidence but instead fuel a more intense determination to improve.

    Thanks for your candor in analysis…that could not be comfortable for you. It is, however, greatly appreciated.

    • Gary,

      As far as personnel is concerned, I don’t think there is much you can do in terms of changing it up. Kickoff return is all about effort. You have to do everything you can to stay in front of your man and block him. It really is a tough job, I’ve seen my fair share of guys getting crushed in my playing days. The biggest thing for that team is putting 11 guys out there who are fearless.

      I like our 3-4 alignment because of the ability of Whitlock to disrupt lineman. He helps that 3-4 a ton the way our coaching staff uses it. It also allows us to vary our blitzes and come from a multitude of directions. The hard part about run defense with the 3-4 is the uncovered guards. Without defensive tackles covering up your guards they have a free release to your linebackers. So if the guards can block your two inside backers it creates that cut-back ability. There are definitely positives and negatives to both the 3-4 and the 4-3.

      It is hard for me to do the analysis when we lose. As I mentioned in the post, I’m doing my best to point out the flaws without being incredibly negative. I know from a player’s perspective how tough it can be if you see things written about you in a negative light. My goal is to give the readers an honest opinion, but I never want to bash a player because I know how tough it is to play this game.

      • Thank you, Michael. Personally I think you are doing an excellent job of giving honest, fair and yet “gentle” analysis.

        I have no idea as to the “personality” of the team. But hopefully we are resilient and tough minded. I am not sure that Army is the team you want to be too emotionally high against due to their disciplined and unrelenting style of play. Honestly I would like to see more emotion from our guys; yet, you cannot lose focus on your assignments against the academies.

        Thanks again for your writing.

      • I’m not sure what the personality is yet either. It’s too early to determine that because this is our first bump in the road. How the team responds this week and the following weeks will tell me a lot. I do think this team has a bit of an attitude, however, and that’s what you need to win games. Bud Noel and Nikita Whitlock are the two guys on the team with the most confidence if you ask me. I’d love to see some more players get that same mindset. A lot of that comes with experience though.

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