Matt Ryan is my hero. I plan on writing something dedicated to him later in the week, but for now, I will just have to say that his bomb to Gonzo might be the greatest pass a BC QB has made on a non scoring drive. Hobbled, he still had enough gitty up to buy time in the end zone and deliver a perfect pass to Gonzo. It is also one of those plays that TV dulled. In person, from high above the opposite endzone, the play came out more like a work of genius or of a prodigy…because no one even saw that play or opening. Matt rolled, and the play was breaking down, and threw it to spot 40 something yards downfield. I don’t even think Gonzo knew how the defenders would part they way it did. When Matt released it, I wondered “what the hell was that?” Yet as the ball moved downfield, I saw Gonzo run under while the five FSU defenders near the area all sort of stood nearly motionless. Like I said, the drive didn’t produce points, but it changed field position and killed more clock. Great play. The rest of his game was very good. The pick was not his fault. He moved well and I loved the little productive shovel passes when he scrambled. His passing was as sharp as it has been since his ankle injury. Very good game.
The running backs numbers didn’t stand out, but both did a much better job reading their blocks and waiting for their moment. It gives me hope for the rest of the season and for next year. I also want to note that both are getting very good at picking up blitzers. Ross deserves mention for his sweet run and catch. He has speed that Palmer lacks, making that play much more interesting as the season progresses.
The receivers and Tight Ends were somewhat mixed bag. Gonzo had a great catch but clearly blew it on the INT. Challenger never broke anything. Robinson caught a nice deep ball and was good in space, but still runs his routes too short on 3rd down. The TEs blocking was mixed. Purvis made a nice catch but also coughed one up.
The line had its best game of the season. Yes, Florida State sacked Ryan twice, but overall they controlled the game, opened up good holes and gave Ryan enough time. We continued the mixed lineups, yet never missed a beat. There were a few trip ups here and there, but the pulling and run blocking was very crisp.
Bible’s calls bring down the O’s grade. He stalled out one drive keeping it on the ground too many times. Some of our Red zone stuff still looked scattered. We moved the ball yet couldn’t sustain many things. The 24 points is very deceptive as 14 really came from the D. After the great game against VT, I was hoping Dana would get on a roll. This game contained many nice plays, yet, like I said, only generated 10 points.
The defensive line played well. They forced Weatherford to move and scramble more than a dozen times. FSU abandoned the run so quickly that it was hard to gauge the run stopping. One concern is that some of the new guys seem just a step too slow. There were at least six occasions when Giles, Larkin, Raji, Smith and Brace were each a step away from Weatherford and couldn’t close the gap. He didn’t beat us for big plays, but a more mobile QB could.
The linebackers were outstanding again. Dunbar might have had his best game of the season. Pruitt was also good. Francois was less of a factor, because Toal got so many snaps. Toal is clearly getting better each week. I don’t know if it was his health or his attitude, but he is playing with a focus and discipline that he didn’t have last year. Akins continued to cause havoc.
The secondary played well considering the situation – FSU passed all day and have real talent at the WR position. I was really impressed with Wes Davis. Tribble had an outstanding game. His INT was perfect. He saw the read, sucked in Weatherford and then was in the endzone before you knew it. Anam’s pick saved us. However, his day was mixed. His tackling was better, but he was a step too slow every time he blitzed from the corner (our blitzes are much more effective with Dunbar or Akins). Sanni played well until he got hurt. Silva made some important tackles. Overall a solid effort from the DBs.
I didn’t like Spaz’s plan all that much. The blitzs weren’t very effective. FSU gave up on the run and we did very little to exploit that. Instead we sat back in deep zones and allowed Weatherford to move the ball. Yes, we made some big plays and kept them out of the endzone, but overall I felt that gameplan was too conservative in the second half. I understand he is playing the percentages with a two touchdown lead, but it is painful to watch and you will lose one day playing that way.
Special teams: B+
Smith bobbled one of his first return chances in weeks. His lone return was solid.
Sid Vicious looked good. Ohliger did not. Where was his distance on the kick offs.
Ayers is having a really strong season and punted well again.
Despite Florida State’s down trend, winning on the road in the division against a talented team still means something. The defense is getting better, which we need. We cannot run the table on Matt Ryan alone.