Florida State Review: Seminoles Trampled Under Foot

Notre Dame barely could’ve scripted a better start to Saturday’s game forcing a turnover on the second play from scrimmage and quickly jumping out to a 17-0 lead just over halfway through the 1st quarter. It was never close beyond Florida State closing the gap briefly to 11 points before the Irish ran away with the game for good in the second half.

Let’s recap the Senior Day victory over the Seminoles.

Stat Package

STAT IRISH NOLES
Score 42 13
Yards 495 322
Passing 130 216
Rushing 365 106
1st Downs 24 20
3rd/4th Conversions 9/16 9/23
Yards Per Play 6.6 4.1
Turnovers 2 2

PASSING OFFENSE

At this point, we know who Brandon Wimbush is as a quarterback. Given that, he played a really strong game before some of his bad habits began creeping into his performance.

The good: Wimbush was great in the red zone with a trio of touchdown passes. In the first half, he connected on several sharp and accurate throws flashing the potential that has made him such an enticing quarterback. Best of all, Wimbush got it done on the important snaps. He was 5 of 6 for 53 yards on 3rd down with 4 throws that moved the chains or scored a touchdown. He also ran for first down 3 times on 3rd down, as well.

Wimbush was absolutely one of the best players on the field in the first half when the Irish built a 32-6 lead.

As the game wore on, Wimbush appeared to lose his groove as he has done many times throughout his career. He finished the game going 2 of 9 for 19 yards with a pair of interceptions. On his second pick with just over 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter the Irish buttoned things up and did not throw the ball the rest of the way. Smart, given the way the running game was performing at that point, but also a sign that Wimbush still has limits.

The protection was quite solid, Florida State ended up with only 2 hurries and no sacks. Give Wimbush credit for staying pretty calm in the pocket.

Alize Mack received the game ball and deservedly so. His pair of circus catch touchdowns were an early turning point that allowed Notre Dame to pull away in the first half and get Florida State out of their comfort zone–if they ever had one in the cold weather.

RUSHING OFFENSE

Most won’t remember that Notre Dame started this game with successful runs on only 3 of 10 snaps. No, this game will be drowned out by what followed afterward which is a testament to the players but also the coaching staff for remaining patient and slowly grinding Florida State down over time.

The Irish finished the game with 25 of 40 successful carries on the ground! Additionally, not one snap for Notre Dame ended with a loss of yards. Yes, zero tackles for loss for Florida State in addition to no sacks. That hasn’t happened to a Seminoles team in almost 2 decades.

Irish Running Success

Williams – 12 of 20 (60.0%)
Wimbush – 6 of 12 (50.0%)
Armstrong – 4 of 7 (57.1%)
Jones – 4 of 6 (66.6%)
Davis – 2 of 4 (50.0%)
Jurkovec – 0 of 1 (0.0%)
TOTAL – 28 of 50 (56.0%)

What a night from Dexter Williams who puts his mark on Senior Day with 202 rushing yards at 10.1 per carry. It was a vintage Dex performance with several long runs, including scores from 58 and 32 yards.

The 12-play drive for 97 yards that featured all running plays beginning with 3:40 remaining in the 3rd quarter and finishing in the end zone with 13:10 in the 4th quarter completely opened the floodgates to an outstanding rushing performance. This was one of the best rushing games of the Kelly era without a doubt.

PASSING DEFENSE

Florida State’s final series before halftime was really apropos of their season. In the face of a Jerry Tillery pressure, Noles quarterback Deondre Francois tossed an absolute dime down the right sideline for 40 yards to the Irish 41-yard line with 1:30 remaining. Seven plays later, Florida State ran out of time after a pass from the Notre Dame 46-yard line fell well short of the 1st-down marker. Seven plays and they essentially went nowhere.

Francois ran hot and cold throughout the night and got very little help from his receivers. A deep pass down the left sideline in the end zone was dropped as were several others by wide open receivers. He was battered on several dropbacks, pressured quite often (4 more from Julian Okwara!) and finished with only 216 yards on 47 attempts.

Notre Dame finished with only 1 sack yet too many of Florida State’s completions were enough to keep drives alive (11 first downs through the air) but not enough to put more points on the board. The Seminoles turned the ball over on downs 3 separate times in Irish territory, including twice in the red zone. On the first, Francois finished the drive 2 of 5 for 23 yards while also being sacked. The second time, he couldn’t complete a pass into the end zone on 4th down inside the 5-yard line. The third time, Francois finished 1 of 4 for 19 yards as the final snap fell a yard short of the 1st-down marker.

The Noles crossed mid-field 7 different times and could only muster 13 points, yikes.

RUSHING DEFENSE

Ultimately it didn’t matter both because the game wasn’t close for long and Florida State was forced to throw the ball nearly 50 times in less than ideal conditions. However, the Noles made a little bit of hay on the ground getting a combined 116 yards from tailbacks Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers.

Their 3.53 rushing average was their 3rd best effort of the season while they were able to punch it in the end zone twice with their running backs.

Seminoles Running Success

Akers – 5 of 12 (41.6%)
Patrick – 8 of 16 (50.0%)
Francois – 1 of 1 (100.0%)
TOTAL – 14 of 29 (48.2%)

To me, it seemed like the Irish naturally took their foot off the gas in spots, were caught off guard that Florida State was actually running at times, and missed a few run fits as the Seminoles uncharacteristically bounced the ball outside for some nice gains.

SPECIAL TEAMS

It wasn’t a game to be remembered if you are a long-snapper. Each side blocked an extra-point although the hapless Seminoles saw their kick taken back for 2 points by Julian Love.

Chris Finke turned in another positive punt return, this time for 28 yards. Justin Yoon nailed both of his field goal attempts although he did kick one ball out of bounds after an Irish score. Overall, a good effort here for Notre Dame.

TURNING POINT

Florida State never really threatened in this game. They began with an interception, then a 3 & out before being faced with a big 3rd down snaps against the Irish offense just under halfway through the 1st quarter.

An incredible reception by Alize Mack looked like a 50-50 chance of being ruled out of bounds at first glance. But upon review, the Irish tight end literally used every millimeter of green turf available to stay in for the touchdown.

To me, this felt like an early “game over” moment. Florida State would fumble on their next snap and although the Irish settled for a field goal it was 17-0 in a hurry.

3 STARS

1 TE Alize Mack – Two sensational touchdowns in the first half were a big difference for the Irish.

2 RB Dexter Williams – A career-high 202 yards and his 3rd game of at least 20 carries this season.

3 QB Brandon Wimbush – In a small sample size actually a vintage Wimbush game.

FINAL NOTES

Alize Mack has the 10th most receptions among all Power 5 tight ends now. Although it’s kind of surprising he scored just his 2nd and 3rd touchdowns of the season on Saturday.

There was a season-high 74 yards of penalties on Notre Dame against the Seminoles. Also, back-to-back weeks with 8 penalties which also ties the season-high. The Irish have been -97 in penalty yardage over the past 2 weeks and continue to win. No one really cares much about penalties when you’re winning.

Finishing drives is important and was a hallmark of the Wimbush era, prior to this season at least. As Bill C. points out, both the Irish and FSU generated 6 scoring opportunities on Saturday but Notre Dame was +4.5 in opportunity scoring margin.

The Irish hold steady in their S&P rankings: 6th overall, 27th on offense, and 3rd on defense.

The 2018 season yards per play differential jumped slightly to +1.60 thanks to a strong offensive performance. Notre Dame has been averaging 6.51 YPP with Book and on Saturday picked up a 6.60 YPP, the first time a Wimbush start was that high since the Navy game last year. This was the 4th best YPP for defense on the season while also Florida State’s 4th worst YPP effort on offense in 2018.

Notre Dame has completed its 3rd unbeaten season at home during the Kelly era, joining 2015 and 2012 in that category. The current home winning streak has been stretched to 11 games and could continue for a while with New Mexico, Virginia, and Bowling Green opening the 2019 schedule in South Bend before USC and Virginia Tech come to town. The next unquestioned elite team to come to Notre Dame is Clemson on November 7, 2020.

By |2018-11-11T14:03:13+00:00November 11th, 2018|Football|23 Comments

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ScarponiBrendan RDrIckjuiceboxJoe Schueller Recent comment authors
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dpet
dpet

Did you hear the NBC replay guy apparently calling for roughing the snapper on the blocked XP runback?

dannan14
dannan14

Yeah, that was kinda a dumb move for Tillery to line up directly over the snapper.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Yeah, he wasn’t wrong.

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

In the replay it looked like Tillery lined up correctly at the snapper’s left shoulder.

dannan14
dannan14

yeah, you’re right. the LG blocked him into the snapper. It was kinda a dumb move for me to just accept what the announcers were saying 😛

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

A beatdown that was an absolute joy to watch. I really hope we do something similar to USC.

One thing I’ve noticed the last few weeks: we rotate our entire backup defensive line in for parts of series. Look at the play where Akers fumbled (3:32 on that video): that line is Hayes, Ademelola, Hinish, and Ogundeji (who completely blows the play up and causes the fumble). That line was in quite a bit yesterday, and they were making plays. Can you imagine ND playing an entire 8-deep of defensive linemen at any point in recent memory? That’s tremendous! And they don’t even have the third-best defensive tackle on the team available right now. I’m super pleased with that depth; much props to Elston, both for the recruiting and development.

dpet
dpet

Keeping guys fresh could be important next week

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

At this point, I give a lot of props to Hinish as the 3rd best DT. Maybe second best behind Tillery, really. Hinish gets a lot of push and disruption, more so than Bonner IMO, or perhaps it’s just noticeable/memorable for me. He had a couple of really great plays last night.

Hopefully MTA will be healthy and able to add something to the mix but missing so much time and jumping back in cold, I can’t imagine they’ll lean that heavily on him. Hinish isn’t a dynamic player or going to flash a ton but he’s stood out to me as much improved on holding the interior point of attack and occasionally being able to overpower an o-lineman and disrupt run plays.

Either way though, the d-line depth is a real strength. That 2016 class in particular looks awesome and it seems in 2019 there’s some more talent coming through too. Hopefully it continues to pan out as well as this batch did.

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

Bizarre moment: the personal foul targeting call. I was at the game and was wondering what the flag was for. Then they called the targeting and the whole stadium was like, “Wut?” Very first replay made it clear that it was a horrifically bad call and yet the replay guy seemed to take about fifteen minutes on the review. The whole time the entire stadium was shouting derision at the clown ref holding the headset. That was brutal. Thank goodness the replay guy couldn’t find one atom of helmet involved in the tackle.

Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

I was at the game, and close enough to that play to hear the helmets hit. It was loud!

I suspect that the ref threw the flag because of the sound. But, if anything, the replay showed that the receiver stupidly lowered HIS head, and it was this action that caused the contact.

gambit1077
gambit1077

On the BK Radio Show this week Kelly told a fan who asked about penalties that we’d played a couple teams in Navy and Northwestern who don’t take many penalties, so having only 16 yards of penalties against our opponents over two games didn’t really mean anything but FSU entered the game in the ranked in the 120s in penalty yards per game. He said to a reasonable approximation that “If we don’t see flags this week then we can cry conspiracy.”

I compared how mostly ACC refs are calling Notre Dame and Clemson games (excluding Furman, because they’re FCS, so their penalty yards/gm weren’t’ listed and that game shouldn’t count anyway):

Clemson has had 493 penalty yards against their opponents. The expected yards against based on their opponents season averages is 476.0. So Clemson is getting about 104% of the expected penalties called against their opponents, on a small sample that seems totally reasonable.

Notre Dame has had 367 penalty yards against their opponents. The expected yards against based on their opponents season averages is 520.6. So Notre Dame is getting about 70% of the expected penalties called against their opponents.

I’m not sure that’s enough to start a conspiracy theory, but it is more than 150 yards that seem to be magically missing in favor of Notre Dame that certainly seem like they would be awarded to Clemson by the same group of people. Regardless of whether or not there’s conscious bias that causes this it does seem to add nicely to the growing pile of evidence that refereeing should be separated from the conferences.

Joe Schueller

Do we really need more evidence of this or just the will to make it so? I’m hoping legalized gambling creates the financial pressure to make it simply happen.

Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

I have a few comments regarding my experience at the game that don’t have to do with the game itself. I have yet to watch my recording of the game so I don’t know how it sounded on TV, but I thought the Stadium was pretty jacked up for a game against a team having its worst season in decades. Many people have commented that they regret that most of the ND home crowd (other than the students) doesn’t stand during games (in the games I’ve attended, I’ve only seen the crowd stand for big plays). Well, Saturday night, my section of the stadium (northeast corner) was on its feet the entire game, even though the outcome had been decided long ago (for the first time since I was much younger, any time our team was on the field, I stood). Also, I thought the crowd remained pretty loud for almost the entire game. FSU fans tried to do their “Tomahawk Chop” thing, but it was never very loud, even with a portion of their band in attendance (one of my old roommates texted me that it sounded loud to him on TV but that must have been the NBC mikes picking it up). Indeed, I got a kick out of the fact that a good portion of the ND student body started doing the chant in the closing minutes of the game (they were establishing “dominance”). I noticed FSU fans wearing a lot Seminoles cold-weather gear (stocking caps, heavy jackets, gloves and scarfs in their team colors). That led me to tell the two bundled up ‘Noles fans sitting in the row in front of me that I couldn’t imagine that FSU would sell that much of it. They told me that it gets into the 30’s in Tallahassee (who’d have known?). I had only pleasant interactions with Seminole faithful, and there was no one rooting from either team that got obnoxious (I did wonder what their fans would have been like had they won – glad I didn’t have to find out). One thing that I noticed on the ribbon board was that, during commercial breaks, there is a timer up there that says when the game will start up again (this was only my second game since the Crossroads project was completed). Kuddos to the ND Athletic Department for putting this up. I don’t know why but it made the breaks go by faster and I didn’t find myself getting as annoyed with the oven-mitt guy as I usually do. Perhaps the NBC commercial timeouts would have been more obnoxious had the game been closer, but it’s still a good thing to do. Getting back to the crowd enthusiasm, I have often thought that, if the team plays well, ND Stadium will start to be a more intimidating place to play. Start winning and the crowd will jack up its effort. Maybe we’re not at “Death Valley” status yet, but if we keep up the quality play… Read more »

KG
KG

Current forecast for NYC is 46 on Saturday. A small part of me was hoping that, since ‘Cuse plays in a dome, maybe we’d get some sort of weather advantage being outside, but 46 isn’t enough to be an advantage against a team from upstate NY. They’re used to worse walking to class.

On the flipside, it does get into the 30’s in northern Florida, but that’s one week in February each year. My parents will have a fire in the fireplace if it’s in the low 40s (they live just outside Jacksonville). It’s currently 79 there today. No matter what the FSU fans put on, Saturday night was going to be more than they’re used to.

Tyler Hack

Re: Obnoxious fans

I was sitting under the video board closer to the FSU section and there was a (probably drunk) FSU girl a few rows behind me who shrieked “PICK SIX” literally every time we dropped back to pass. Then when it didnt happen it was “NEXT TIME.” Luckily we stopped throwing early in the 3rd lol

kiwifan
kiwifan

So we go into the last 2 games this close to making the playoffs, but 2 dumb decisions have added to our risk. First, playing in clown suits emulating the NY Yankee brand instead of our own—Syracuse may fall down laughing when they see them. Second, playing coast to coast games on back to back saturdays. It would have been nice for the home crowd to see our team actually at home, and we wouldn’t be stuck with those stupid uniforms.

gambit1077
gambit1077

A non-trivial part of football is getting the other team to fall down. Sounds like we’ve got a distinct schematic advantage in this one.

juicebox
juicebox

I saw the pinstripe pants and actually think the unis look kind of good…for Fordham.

DrIck
DrIck

comment image

This thing gets more enjoyable (and linear) to look at every week.

Brendan R

Indeed it does… Not that it really matters, but I’m a bit puzzled at our win probabilities for Syracuse and USC both dropping – -4.4% and -0.6%, respectively. Syracuse beat up on a bad Louisville team about the same way we beat up on a bad FSU team, and USC looked beyond pathetic in a 15-14 loss to Cal. Odd.

Anyway, heady times.

DrIck
DrIck

Pressure of going 12-0 I guess makes these games less probable to win?

Brendan R

Also, in the Help From Unexpected Locations Department… Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West with their win over Iowa this past weekend. Pitt’s Friday night road upset of Virginia very nearly clinched the ACC Coastal for them – their magic number over Virginia is 1, with two conference games left for each. And then of course there’s soon-to-be #12 Syracuse.

Scarponi
Scarponi

Do you mean (a little less) soon to be somewhere around #19 Syracuse?