The first play of the game was something that I incorrectly read live during the game, but after some talks with people on Twitter and me re-watching this play, I realized the error of my ways.
This was not on CJ Henderson, this looks to be an RPO by FSU and it sucks both Davis and Taylor down from their safety spots.
I don’t know Florida’s play call here and I will not pretend to know. But it looks to me like both Dean and Wilson on the bottom are playing man. People on Twitter assumed Henderson was in zone, and it’s possible that Florida was playing a man/zone concept here, it’s a popular thing to do now where half the defense is in man and the other half is in a zone. But I have spotted that little in my reviews, I think Henderson was supposed to be in man to man here and Taylor (and even Davis) would have taken away the skinny post if he immediately drops back into what I imagine was a cover 2 look.
Instead, what we got here, is Taylor (safety help for Henderson) bites down, as does Davis, but Davis got away with it because of the routes on his side of the field. Henderson takes outside leverage expecting Taylor to backpedal. Taylor isn’t there. In the replay you can even see Henderson’s arms go up in a “what in the world just happened to my safety help”. So CJ, you will never read this, but I’m sorry for roasting you on Twitter on this play.
This next play should have resulted in a walk-in touchdown for FSU. The slot WR hits Stewart with a double move and while I don’t see exactly what Stewart does based on this clip I took, I strongly believe that Stewart bit hard on that double move and allowed the WR to run past him.
The pocket kind of falls apart for Blackman and I think that benefits in the overthrow. Carter looks as if he gets his hand on Blackman’s shoulder and Slaton provides a little pressure as well. Regardless of that, Florida caught a break here.
Ventrell Miller started the season strong with me pointing out his speed and angles vs. Miami and Kentucky, but once Florida got into the bulk of the SEC schedule, I thought he was just bad. But he stuck out to me in this game and this is the first play that I took a mental note to checkout later. Miller has good speed at the linebacker spot and he blows up the H-back here to get into the backfield and ruin this RB swing screen.
FSU lines up in a 4 receiver tight formation and gets both slot receivers past the safeties here. Once again Taylor is way out of position here, and I will not be shy about this as I have said it before, but Taylor is easily the worst safety who gets consistent playing time on this roster. Luckily for Florida, I do not understand why Florida State has two receivers getting their routes this close to each other; I don’t think the throw from Blackman was bad, I really think the intended WR here gets distracted by the other receiver in front of him. Otherwise, this is a big catch by FSU, if not a TD.
Injuries suck, but they provide silver linings when the backup comes in and plays well. I believe that Carter has been the primary replacement for Moon unless I’m mistaken and that would be Diabate and Carter has taken other defensive linemen’s snaps. Regardless of which option you choose, Carter started off slow this year but has come on since Moon’s injury. Here he is lined up at tackle with Greenard at end and they stunt. Greenard beats everyone inside and gets a hand on Blackman, but ultimately Carter gets the sack, and he would have gotten to Blackman even if Greenard didn’t slow him down with that arm tug.
FSU’s left tackle is a redshirt senior, so I’m not sure if this is the blocking scheme or if this is on him entirely, but when Greenard is standing over you, you might want to block him. Easy blindside sack for Greenard and he’s barely touched here. Miller needs to just jump on this ball instead of trying to house it for a touchdown.
Nice look by Grantham here. It looks to be a zone blitz. Henderson looks to be in man at the bottom, the top corner presses at the line of scrimmage and drops into a zone. Florida gets pressure off the edge from James Houston, who eventually ends up with the sack.
This wasn’t a big gain, so I’m keeping this in picture form, but FSU had some success with their RPO concepts versus Florida in this game. This looks to be the same or a very similar play call to the one that resulted in a large gain against Henderson on the first drive. These safeties really need to work on how they play against RPO’s in the off-season, unless the call here asks for Stewart to aggressively attack downhill, but I don’t think that’s the case, and him being out of a position allows for an easy completion for a first down.
Here you see Stewart, circled, in relation to his original position above and how that opened up the passing lane.
Two things here, Wilson has looked really good in as the nickel corner for one, second, Stiner is significantly better than Taylor. I don’t believe this play needed Stiner to be incomplete, but he’s in the right spot at the right time.
This long touchdown run by Akers came against several second stringers on defense. I’m not sure why Taylor sees the amount of playing time he sees at safety, but he badly misses this tackle, Brunson gets himself out of position as the lone off the ball linebacker and Bogle is lined up at DE and gets himself blocked too far inside and he can’t make a play on Akers. Once Akers gets past Taylor, he is gone.
Diabate is another guy that has benefited from increased playing time with Moon down. Fires off the snap here and gets in for a sack. He is up to 4 on the season now, which is good considering he is a second string linebacker/edge rusher who has only recently seen an increase in snaps.
Carter presents a mismatch when he lines up as a tackle, because he’s an undersized tackle, so while a guard or center could overpower Carter, he has flashed against the run in this way several times this season when he lines up over center of off the shoulders of a guard. He splits both the C and RG here and makes this tackle in the backfield.
Greenard vs. the FSU and UM tackles was a sight to behold this year, Greenard is an elite pass rusher, and it really stands out in the games vs. FSU and UM. Just swipes away at the LT’s hands here and hits the corner with speed.
Slaton and Greenard on the sack here. Slaton is a guy I had a lot of expectations for this year in the off-season, and he’s been slowly living up to them over the last month. He’s still raw in terms of playing nose tackle (if I’m not mistaken, he was an offensive lineman in high school), but he is a big man who is learning how to use his size to his advantage, and he does that here, gets into the center’s chest and shoves him back twice and completely swallows Blackman, while Greenard cleans up from the back.
Florida only allowed 250 yards to Florida State in this game, that would be good for 49 yards less than Florida has allowed on average on the season. 17 points, 250 yards, there isn’t a lot to complain about in this game on paper.
But paper and film don’t always match. If Florida had consistently strong safety play, it’s very likely that Florida would have held Florida State to under 200 yards on the game. About 60 yards of offense from FSU came on two RPOs that were very similar, if not the exact same play call that sucked in the safeties out of position opening up a passing lane for Blackman to hit a receiver on a skinny post. Now I can’t go back and change time, I can’t see the future, it’s possible that Blackman comes off his first read and goes elsewhere, but what I saw on film showed me that if UF safeties did their job properly, Blackman would have had no other target to throw too. Stiner and Davis are both juniors, and assuming they both return, I would really like to see less rotation at this the safety spot and stick with those two as the primary safeties. I strongly believe that the defense will benefit from seeing less of Taylor and Stewart on the field.
Staying with the secondary, I’m not sure if Dean was injured, or if the staff wanted to get Elam playing time with the expectation that Henderson is gone after this year. I am confident this is the least amount of snaps that Dean has played in any single game this season. Ever since Dean and Wilson have swapped placed, the passing defense has been better and Dean has not popped on tape, which is progress for him with how poorly he played from the nickel spot.
The front seven was solid in this game. If Taylor doesn’t miss a tackle, Akers 50-yard touchdown run looks more like a 4-yard gain. Miller was by far the best linebacker on the field for Florida, blowing up two screen plays and notching half a sack, I liked his aggressiveness and reaction speed in this game overall. Greenard had 3 sacks (that came on 4 plays) on the game and Carter continues to show that there may be some continuity once Greenard and Zuniga head for the NFL. Slaton continues to show that with another off-season of conditioning and coaching, he may be a force to be reckoned with at that nose tackle position.
Overall, Grantham dialed up a good game plan. I pin these safety issues on Ron English more than I do on Grantham because on the plays I pointed out in this review; I got the sense that Grantham’s play-calling was not responsible for the plays allowed by the defense.
I will take another look at the numbers from this defense once they have finished the season after the bowl game.