Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Florida State
Addazio has been pretty demonstrative in his unhappiness with the loss. That's good. That's the edge he needs and the team needs. I don't feel the same way and only felt better after watching the game back. We played well against a good team. If we play near that level the rest of the season, we will go bowling.
Chase Rettig is not having the season I predicted. He's not been great but he hasn't been bad either. Yesterday captured the issues. He looked good within the offense. He passed on the move well. He ran when he had to. He turned a few broken plays into positive yards. Yet his mistakes were on full display too. He is not scanning the field and tends to lock in on one target. His passing was not crisp. The first INT was a total breakdown in throwing. (The second one was desperation and not really on him.) He wasn't the reason we lost yesterday, but we need him to play better in the big games. Also, if he wants to be an NFL QB, he's got to start being more accurate with his passes.
Andre Williams has taken his play to a new level the past two games. He's always been powerful, but now he is finding space and making people miss. He looked really good. Willis obviously looked good doing a bit of everything. I think he showed he can be more than a change of pace guy. He's got good hands and good speed. He can also run in traffic. I didn't realize what an upgrade Sinkovec was until he made the nice little cut and tuck on the TD. He blocked well too.
The offensive line played well. They moved and pulled much better than they did against USC...notably Williams and Patchan. The true pass blocking wasn't as strong. Gallik allowed a bad sack that killed a drive. But as a group it was a big improvement over USC. They are coming together.
Amidon is doing what he can. He's rarely open and not getting great balls. However, we did give him touches in the run game. Parsons was a nice surprise. Crimmins caught a ball and Miller had two. We really need to start getting other guys involved (Harrison was out there and so was Evans) just to see what they can do.
Although it was still conservative the offensive play calling was solid. The unbalanced line caught FSU by surprise (even though we've used it previously) and they never adjusted. So we kept going back to it and Williams had success on the edge and in the middle. We also used the run to effectively set up the pass on the rollouts and play action. All the TDs were great calls. The only frustrating part of the gameplan was that we are not very effective on passing downs or in true passing formations. It is a little bit of everything, guys cannot get open, protection is not great and Rettig's throws are not on target. We need to fix that but overall the offense put up points and dictated play most of the day against a quality opponent.
Kaleb Ramsey played like a difference maker yesterday. And it wasn't just getting good push or pressure on Winston. He was also following the plays and making tackles after the line of scrimmage when his teammates got beat. If he can finish strong, he may give our defense a spark. As for the young guys Wujciak and Kavalec saw action and held their own. Edebali was more contained than he's been lately. Abdesmad had some good plays stuffing the run.
I thought Daniels played better. He wasn't asked to cover as much so we was able to run support in the middle of the field. KPL made an early play and then seemed a step slow the rest of the way. Perhaps he's not 100% yet. Keyes looked good. I loved sending him and KPL at the QB together on the edge. Divitto was ok and had a few issues tackling.
Asprilla is becoming a bit of a scape goat, but I think he is playing well given the system he was recruited for and what he is being asked to do now. He got beat deep but was with his man -- just a step slower. He also tackled well. Both Joneses made some nice plays. I liked what we saw from Williams. Sylvia wasn't as near the action. Rositano did not have a great day. He was beat on the Hail Mary and missed some tackles.
I know we gave up a ton of points, yardage and big plays, but I was happy with Don Brown's defense. Let me explain. Winston is an accurate passer and Florida State is a rhythm offense. We got to Winston and made multiple big plays on defense. We also showed different looks -- pressure early, backing off, pressure late. At times were were able to get penetration with just three lineman. Many of their biggest plays were either broken (like the Hail Mary) or just good plays from their players outperforming ours. My only complaint is that we didn't bring as much pressure as they were making their comeback in the first half. I don't know if that was by design or an adjustment once we got a big lead. Either way, it didn't work.
Special Teams: B
The Special teams were better than they've been. We had strong kickoffs from Freese. Spiffy made some nice cuts on returns. Willis' big kick return and we made our field goals. The blocking on returns was even better (Willis made a huge block on Spiffy's long return). The only complaint was the punting. Overall they were high enough to be unreturnable but still too short. We didn't change field position enough. Freese has shown he can pin teams down, but I wonder if we need to try something else when we are deep in our own end.
As I've said, this wasn't a moral victory but it was a decent gameplan and a good effort. We didn't execute well enough, but still had chances to win. The biggest game management issue that opens up second guessing was how Addazio managed the final minutes before the half.
As someone who endlessly bashed Spaz for wasting possessions and taking a knee, I actually think Addazio did the right thing on Saturday. The game was tied and we were set to get the ball at the start of the second half. That gives us the advantage. Pressing for another score makes sense against a Wake Forest or Army, but at the time our offense had stalled against Florida State. So we tried our best play of the game to that point (running off tackle). If Williams burst a big run, I assume we would have hurried up and tried something else. Instead he was tackled for a short gain and forced an FSU timeout. We followed with two other conservative plays and forced more timeouts. We eat up every last bit of clock before calling a timeout and punting. Then we make two defensive stops and the clock is running. Of course the series ends with Winston making one of the all-time "holy shit" plays in Alumni Stadium history. It was a fluke from a great player.
Addazio has now had two ends of half go poorly (Wake and FSU). Both times I agreed with his logic and cringed at the execution. If that becomes a consistent pattern, then we will have issues with him as coach. Now I feel he is doing the right things.
This game didn't come strictly down to coaching. If anything I thought our preparation and motivation were better than Florida State's. But it was still a loss, so the pats on the back only go so far. I feel better about this team than I did after USC and think measuring Addazio will really come down to the how we finish the season.