Florida State Preview: Talking ‘Bout Their Woes

It seems just like yesterday that Florida State was no longer the 9-win team incapable of breaking through and suddenly had morphed into an elite National Championship team. There was a time from mid-2011 through mid-2015 that the Seminoles were on a scorching hot 52-4 run that probably isn’t fully appreciated yet historically. Today, things have swung hard in the other direction. Since the beginning of 2017, Florida State has dropped 11 of their past 22 games while becoming shockingly average within the ACC.

Florida State (+16.5) at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium
South Bend, Indiana
Date: Saturday, November 10, 2018
Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV: NBC
Series: 6-2-0 Florida State

Additionally, the immediate future for Florida State does not look great with no turn around in sight. The Seminoles will be traveling up north to South Bend for the 3rd of 5 straight games against ranked opponents. Should they finish the season without a win their NCAA-record 36-year bowling streak will come to and end with a massive thud and their 8 losses will be the most since 1975 prior to FSU emerging on the scene as a national power.

3 Pre-Game Topics

Weary Willie 

What if I told you someone was under .500 at Western Kentucky, under .500 at South Florida, spent one mediocre year at Oregon, was hired at one of the country’s Top 10 head coaching jobs and found himself drowning in his first season in Tallahassee? His name is Willie Taggart!

Even if this isn’t totally fair–he did quality rebuilding jobs at WKU and USF–the point remains that a lot of people talked themselves into the ascendant star of Taggart because…recruiting or something?

The Seminoles head coach signed a 6-year $30 million deal and he’s already on the hot seat with over $20 million reportedly owed to him in any buyout this off-season. Obviously, he’s very likely to stick around for a while but still.

Offensive Seminoles “O”

The big picture advanced stats table is down below but before we get there let’s take a perusal through some of Florida State’s rankings on offense (note there are 130 FBS programs):

Success Rate: 121
Rushing S&P: 124
Standard Downs: 107
Points Per Game: 105
Yards Per Carry: 129
Yards Per Play: 111
3rd Downs: 130

At least with throwing the ball they are doing better with the 50th ranked passing S&P, 38th on passing downs, and 23rd in raw passing yardage. Still, the Seminoles quarterbacks are 61st nationally in passer rating and 62nd in yards per attempt. They’ve had a few really long plays from scrimmage (leading to the 7th IsoPPP rank!) but are only 72nd in plays of 10+ yards and 66th in plays of 20+ yards.

This offense really is in the dumps, likely the worst Florida State offering of my lifetime.

Senior Day

The data might not actually back this up but it does seem like the majority of Senior Days at Notre Dame lean toward being sleepy affairs in the first half. The team is thrown out of their normal routine a little bit and you can forgive them for being a bit distracted prior to kickoff.

In this light, maybe it’s a good thing the Syracuse game was moved to Yankee Stadium! It’s going to be gloomy and cold with thousands of people in attendance just wanting to get through the whole night with a victory as quickly as possible.

2 Key Opponents

WR Tamorrion Terry – The former high 3-star recruit took a redshirt in 2017 during his first year on campus and has been slowly emerging this season, culminating in 5 receptions for 142 yards and 2 scores last week against NC State. Standing at a robust 6’4″ and averaging nearly 22 yards per reception, Terry could be a handful down field for Notre Dame’s secondary.

DE Brian Burns – This guy could be a problem. In an upcoming loaded year for draft-eligible edge rushers Burns is right up there as a potential 1st round pick. As a singular talent, he may be the best pass-rusher the Irish will see this year and has totaled 23 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss in less than 3 years of playing time.

1 Prediction

College football is crazy. Five years ago Florida State were National Champions following a 14-0 march through their schedule and a record +553 point differential (to put this in perspective at Notre Dame’s current point differential pace they’d need to play 30 more games to catch FSU 2013). Four years ago they were completing a perfect regular season and back in the playoffs. Three years ago they were beating Michigan in the Orange Bowl for another double-digit win season.

Now, Jimbo Fisher skipped town, Jameis Winston is flaming out in the NFL, and the Seminoles are at rock bottom for their modern history.

My title is a pun on “Talking ‘Bout the Noles.”

Three months ago I thought this matchup was being grossly overlooked. Florida State appeared able to bounce back from a mediocre 2017 and move on from the the acrimonious end of the Fisher era with a fresh, new coaching staff. Their defense appeared ready to carry the team and (borderline) star quarterback Deondre Francois was coming back from injury to lead an improved offense.

Two weeks ago I thought Florida State was shaping up to be the toughest remaining game on the schedule. They’d won 3 of 4 with a near-upset of Miami and were playing Clemson close after a scoreless 1st quarter. Then, Clemson scored 8 touchdowns on 10 drives and handed the Seminoles their worst home loss ever.

Under normal circumstances, this should not be an overly difficult game for the Fighting Irish.

National Rankings

STAT IRISH NOLES
F/+ 6 80
S&P+ 6 75
S&P+ Offense 27 102
S&P+ Defense 3 39

So, massive blowout right? Not so fast! The circumstances are no longer normal.

The weather (currently expected to be in the high 20’s, cloudy, with 10 mph winds) combined with the overall morale of the Seminoles should have plenty counting on an easy cover for Notre Dame. However, there’s two sides to that coin. The Irish may be more comfortable in this weather but also acutely aware that Florida State won’t be too thrilled and adjust accordingly. It’s kind of a “we know they know we know they will fold early so we don’t need to go 110%” type of deal.

Last week, even in a tight game, we saw some rotation on Notre Dame’s defense especially up front on the defensive line. I have a hard time believing against a perceived weaker team we will see the starters logging a ton of snaps. If the Irish get out to a 14-0 lead I think we’ll see the likes of Micah Dew-Treadway, Ade Ogundeji, Jordan Genmark Heath, Donte Vaughn, and even a wild Devin Studstill appearing on the field in non-blowout situations during the first half.

It’s also possible the cold weather dilutes enthusiasm for both sides. Florida State’s run defense has been good enough that they could make Notre Dame struggle and who knows how the passing game fares in less than ideal conditions?

We’ve also received word that Ian Book is officially out this weekend (and maybe longer) with mid-section injuries. Florida State was actually dealing with their own quarterback issues as James Blackman did some good things last week (421 yards, 4 TD) but the Seminoles appear to be putting Francois back in, at least to start. Without Book on the field, it’s time to take a step back and reassess this matchup.

This is potentially a heart-warming Senior Day for Brandon Wimbush as he steps back into the spotlight and can lead the program to an important victory. He may be needed to do much more, too. However, we know the RPO’s are going to be packed away with him under center and there’s a real possibility Florida State clamps down daring Wimbush to throw. I don’t want to gloss over how much of a change it will be to close the book (sorry) on the things that made this offense tick over the last 6 weeks.

This should probably be a conservative game plan with a lot of running but that doesn’t mean it’ll be pretty or Wimbush won’t have to make several big throws. I’m trying to reconcile the idea that Notre Dame knows Florida State could be a pushover in crappy conditions with the sense that the offense now needs to re-boot itself, at least temporarily, in a way that won’t torpedo the undefeated season.

Either way, this game just got a lot closer than expected.

Florida State 13

Notre Dame 22

By |2018-11-08T13:56:52+00:00November 8th, 2018|Football|72 Comments

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DrIck
DrIck

5 FG’s & a TD?

Scarponi
Scarponi

11 safeties.

Michael Bryan

Thought this score was familiar and yep, 2012 USC was 22-13 on a TD and five Brindza field goals

spider-man
spider-man

Unless FSU rolls over because of the cold weather, this game is going to be a lot closer with BW instead of Book. I’m preparing myself for a lot more 3 and outs — fingers crossed that the Irish special teams doesn’t do anything stupid (like allow a returned kickoff, give up a blocked punt, etc.)

my name is inigo montoya
my name is inigo montoya

Bring out those green jerseys coach! bring em out!

my name is inigo montoya
my name is inigo montoya

I love being right!!!!

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Looks like we’re getting the green jerseys, for better or for worse.

KG
KG

Why do yo want us to lose?
Is this being reported somewhere??

KG
KG

And I’ve now found it.

Welp. Why wait for Syracuse to blow what should be a very easy game.

Orlok
Orlok

Yes. This is so bad. The jerseys are cursed. Damn it, why?!

dpet
dpet

I was hoping you would cheer me up about the Book injury by saying we would still win by 3 TDs plus. Reading the tea leaves, it might not just be one game for Book. I honestly have no idea what I think is going to happen in this game. I just know that I’m going to be drinking during it.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

What tea leaves are those? ESPN report seemed to make it look like he was more likely good for Syracuse…Also he was able to finish the NW game, right? Hopefully he will heal up quickly, I was feelin pretty good about him being back for next week.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

And in the FWIW category, from BK himself

“He got kneed. This is really much more of a rib injury,” Kelly said. “But as you know, when we’re talking about a rib injury, there’s a grade that can go from broken ribs to bruised ribs to internal injuries, so from this perspective, if he had severe kidney issues, that’s four to six weeks. We’re not dealing with that. … We think he’ll be prepared to play next week. We’re very confident that, if everything continues to move in the direction it has up to this point, that he’ll be able to play against Syracuse.”

https://ndsmcobserver.com/2018/11/exclusive-bk-announces-book-out-wimbush-to-start-against-fsu/

Clearwall
Clearwall

It just doesnt make sense to me that if he has an internal organ issue that he’d still be on the practice field every day. He’d be in a hospital and I dont think he would be anywhere near football. Not a doctor, of course, but I’m leaning more towards broken rib at worst and severe bruising at best. I dont buy the liver/spleen/kidney issue

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Wasn’t the quote saying specifically that there was no internal organ issue?

tlndma
tlndma

With Book out, I doubt the defense will be over confident for victory. I feel bad that Wimbush is being stuck in a situation where if the Irish lose all blame will most likely be directed at him. He’s playing to determine his legacy this week and probably next. That’s a lot of pressure.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Well, it would have been a worse legacy to lose to Ball State or Vandy…

I hope there’s no pressure. On the flip side, maybe he approaches it like it’s his senior day, his final chance to play in ND Stadium and with his buddies and he gets a chance that looked like was never going to happen again to be the QB1 at Notre Dame. He can play free and just ball out and have a day. Wimbush seems very well-adjusted and like a great teammate, hopefully now that expectations and the weight of the job are off him he doesn’t have to worry about being perfect and just plays.

I’m sure this fall has sucked for him personally but he’s shown character not to whine/make a headline complaining or flat out disengage and leave school like other QBs have done recently. Very commendable. “Deserve got nothin to do with it” as The Wire taught us, but it sure would be fitting and a nice story if Wimbush could play well and keeping the undefeated season he started by doing well against Michigan.

tlndma
tlndma

The difference being if ND had lost to BS or Vandy and then Book had come in and played as he has, the blame would have been on Kelly. Now, the pressure falls squarely on Wimbush(rightly or wrongly) in the eyes of many.
I hope he plays really well.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

True, it’s tough to imagine them losing this game unless Wimbush is awful. HOWEVA, turnovers weren’t Wimbush’s problem. If this was Everett Golson coming back in, that would be a concern (sorry Eric). Wimbush, I don’t think, is going to LOSE a game by playing poorly if he stays in character. He’s just not going to lead a lot of drives and score a lot of points because he can’t operate the short/medium passing game consistently and the 2018 line isn’t as good at run blocking as the 2017 line so the running game isn’t going to pick up the slack.

tlndma
tlndma

no argument.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Always quote Will Muny when you can

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuvEJ-U1UDc

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

I personally can’t blame Wimbush if we lose to FSU (unless he turns the ball over). For what it’s worth, I think any loss in the next 3 games will likely result from our difficulties running the ball.

An offense that collapses unless it has a QB that completes 70% of his passes AND accounts for most of the successful runs is a problem. In my opinion, what truly separates elite teams from average teams is the ability to move the ball even with mediocre QBs.

Wimbush has accuracy issues and struggles with the RPO, as we all know, but if he’s repeatedly having to pass on 3rd and 8 (as Book frequently does), there’s plenty of blame to go around.

juicebox
juicebox

Other than Alabama, what are the elite teams that have had mediocre QB play?

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

This season? Georgia, LSU, Clemson.

juicebox
juicebox

You haven’t been following Trevor Lawrence very closely have you? When he was out, they almost lost to Syracuse.

65% completion, 1549 yds, 8.2 y/a, 18 TD, 3 INT

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

My point is Clemson is undefeated despite QB injuries and transfers. Yes, they have it straightened out now. My point is we should beat a bad FSU team with Wimbush. If we can’t, it’s more than just Wimbush’s play.

EDIT: Let me put it another way: if we rely this heavily on Book to beat mediocre teams, I think it’s unfair to put the blame on Wimbush. To me, it suggests larger problems with the offense.

juicebox
juicebox

They have had elite QB play all season. The one game they didn’t, they almost lost to Syracuse. Would you be impressed that we were undefeated with Ian Book at QB if Wimbush had transferred? That is basically the exact situation Clemson is in.

Also, these are Kelly Bryants stats in his two starts: 66.7% comp, 2TD, 0 INT, 332 pass yds, 112 rush yds, 2 rush TD.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Lawrence is so good that if there were a college player draft of all players today, factoring in talent and eligibility for future play, he would probably be the #1 pick (he gets you another year beyond Tua).

juicebox
juicebox

And that flow…

MrTgon
MrTgon

It is a nice bowl of salad

RiseUpIrish
RiseUpIrish

He looks like a member of Hanson (1990s version, obviously).

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

Fine. Clemson is a bad example.

FSU is 68th in S&P and we are 6th. I think if we can’t beat them without Book, it suggests blaming Wimbush overlooks our existing problems with the OL and the running game.

juicebox
juicebox

Oh, I’m not going to argue about this team being ELITE. I think we are legit top 10, but not really top 3. And there is a huge gap between us and Clemson/Bama.

But in general, people drastically underestimate the importance of QB play in running an efficient offense these days.

Wisconsin is the only consistently pretty good team (still far from elite) that regularly competes with mediocre QB play.

I think Bama is good examples of how big a different strong QB play makes. Bama has always had a good offense with mediocre QBs, but the different between Tua and Hurts in the offensive performance is huuuuuge. Basically as big a difference in the two QBs ability.

Lastly, if we don’t beat FSU, it means there are wayyyyyy more issues than our OL and running game, which are definitely an issue.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

Fair enough. I’ll admit I’m wary of simplistic narratives and fans blaming Wimbush seems likely to me.

juicebox
juicebox

Yeah. It isn’t his fault he is as good as he is. No one should be blaming Wimbush.

Clearwall
Clearwall

And the deal with Wisconsin…
This year is their worst in the last 5. They’ll probably at least go 9-4 like they did in ’13. Their QB this year has a 58.1% completion. In the previous 4, their starter was 62.3, 58.6(although they used 2 QBs that year and the other had a 68.1), 60.7, 53.7. Wimbush is usually about a 55% or so passer so on the low end of this list. Elite programs cannot win major games without a QB that is AT LEAST 60% and gains at least 200 yards passing per game.

Clearwall
Clearwall

The problem with BW is that he puts himself in 3rd and 8 so much more often than Book does. And when that happens, to get out of it he requires a miracle play to convert it. We almost never have a methodical drive with BW where he’s constantly picking up yards and moving downfield. It’s always scramble around in the backfield trying to make something happen, get sacked. Make a bad read, lose yards. Broken play, scramble for 20 and pick up the first.

Football was a verb
Football was a verb

True, but I noticed a lot of 3rd and longs against NU too. In that case though, it was a low success rate in the run game on early downs. Continuing that trend and adding Wimbush is a recipe for disaster.

kiwifan
kiwifan

FSU knows BW can’t pass effectively, so they’ll stack the box and they have a strong run D anyway, so yes, a lot of the responsibility if we don’t score points will be Wimbush’s limitations. Hopefully he’ll have a great night, but run blocking isn’t our strong suit.

goodoldtk
goodoldtk

Where’s the optimism everybody? This is the same BW coming in that is the only QB to beat Michigan and the most points they’ve given up all season. And that was without Dex to help out. He’ll play well enough for us to win…. I hope

Orlok
Orlok

I was still expecting victory until they announced the green jerseys. For what it’s worth, my dad felt Wimbush would be fired up and said we’d win handily. What does some random guy’s dad know? Nothing! But, my dad is a super pessimist, so it cheered me up a bit just to hear that.

goodoldtk
goodoldtk

Yeah, I’ve heard people (who don’t follow ND closely) be worried that Wimbush wouldn’t care and play like a broken man because he lost the starting job. I personally don’t expect that at all.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Because that’s only when you get GOOD Brandon and not BAD Brandon. Bad Brandon loses 41-8 to miami, 38-20 to Stan, struggles against LSU and Navy and BSU and Vandy and Wake

KG
KG

We’re Notre Dame fans. Why are you expecting optimism?

MrTgon
MrTgon

The offense is clearly better under Book. And BW obviously struggled this year against some lesser competition. But, let’s not forget that last year BW put up 49 against Temple, 49 against BC, 38 against Mich St., 52 against Miami (OH), 49 against USC, 35 against NC St., 48 against Wake, and 24 against the number one D in the country this year. Kid can ball. So, it’s not like we’re necessarily destined for a 20 pt, mostly ineffectual, frustrating offensive effort, or that a huge offensive day is some sort of long shot. He’s Brandon Wimbush, not Nate Montana. And he has absolutely smoked MANY good teams in the past – teams with far better defenses than FSU this year.

Sure, we could get that frustrating and inaccurate BW right off the bat that allows FSU to stack the box and make for a long hair-pulling Saturday. No question.

But I have a feeling we’re going to get better than that. I have a feeling BW is not out to prove people wrong; he’s out to prove people right: that he’s a badass football player, a consummate teammate, a class act, and has and will be a major factor in the success of this team. I think this kid is going to come out on Senior Day with fire, shove it down FSU’s throat, and become the feel-good part in the story of ND’s 2018 march to the championship. Print it.

gambit1077
gambit1077

BW will always have a special place in my heart for 2017 USC. I’m pretty optimistic about this game, something like 34-13.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Same

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“But, let’s not forget that last year BW put up 49 against Temple, 49 against BC, 38 against Mich St., 52 against Miami (OH), 49 against USC, 35 against NC St., 48 against Wake”

If Wimbush brings back McGlinchey, Nelson and Bars I would feel a lot better about Dex looking like Josh Adams on long runs and putting up 30+ points.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Fair enough. It’s a good point. I’d feel better too, for sure. McNelson (TM) was dope, obviously, and Bars going down has proven to be an issue.

But my point still stands, I think: BW is dangerous and will be playing loose and with a purpose. And, from what I’m reading about FSU’s D this year, we may not need Barsthalomew McNelson for him to tee off.

He still put up 24 on UM. With Bars. But without Dex

KG
KG

I don’t have quite your confidence (or much really), BUT….

I’m still convinced that the Wimbush we saw against Ball State and Vandy was being tested by BK and Long to see if he was able to play pocket passer. They gave him a two-game tryout to see if he could run the full offense, and when he showed he couldn’t, they made the switch to Book.

What this tells me is that we’ll go back to the Michigan game offense–designed QB runs, long balls to stretch the defense. Dex is a better back than we had against Michigan, and this is a decent defense but not as good as Michigan’s clearly, and they get no help from their offense.

These are the strands of hope I’m clinging desperately too. But in 3 days I’ve gone from “we’ll win by 40” to “criminy just win the damn game.”

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

Logged in just to rec this!

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Sad to see it won’t be snowing tomorrow during the game. Still, it will be in the 20s when the game starts and only get colder. FSU will be freaking miserable.

Wimbush does fine.

ND 27
FSU 10

Clearwall
Clearwall

Looks to me like 40% chance of snow

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Gotta do the hour-by-hour on Weather Underground. 2-3% chance of snow after 4pm, and probably little snow after 10am.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“With temps around 30 degrees expected Saturday at ND, I asked @CurtMWeiler if that should be an issue for FSU. He pointed out the ‘Noles actually play in the cold about once/year. 2-1 in ~30 degree weather the last two years. Not the big deal we make it out to be.” – Douglas Farmer twitter.

I don’t think the weather is really going to be the overwhelming hindrance it’s getting hyped to be. Yes, they’re from Florida and it’s not cold there. But it’s not like this is really going to be the worst winter night in history either.

If FSU loses or quits, it’s probably because they’re just bad and have no semblance of an offensive line to get anything going and arguably poorly prepared and coached and phoning it in anyways…Not really because it’s a bit cold out.

dannan14
dannan14

With the world on fire around me right now this talk of snow is amusing!

More Noise
More Noise

Hi all — it’s been a little crazy over here as we ready for the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. So I just came up for air and saw what you have been writing about our QB situation, etc. Thanks to all of you as usual for an exchange of pertinent and interesting and often informative comments. A few of my own:
1, Bravo to BK for giving an exclusive to The Observer (and to BW as well). Very fitting with Senior Night here.
2, Concur that it seems to be guardedly optimistic for Ian for NYC. Let’s keep hoping for the best.
3, That being said BK’s comments about Brandon Thursday were interesting — especially the remark to the effect that (assuming he does well) Brandon would want to “stay the starter.” That may be a good sign as to Brandon’s state of mind. Being a natural optimist, and I think like all of us appreciative of Brandon’s qualities as a person, I’d like to think we’ll see the “Good” BW, and bring on a QB controversy. But I admit the memories of Dayne Christ, Malik Zaire, Tom Hendrix all catastrophically having lost their mojo and confidence have not disappeared. So let us say confidence is a crucial characteristic for a QB — and here’s hoping Brandon has indeed been working on his craft since being benched.
4, The green color kind of sucks, does it not?
5, Anyone going to be at the game? I have to be in Paris this weekend, and I have some input into the band to help them finetune their crowd noise input, and I would like to have a source in the stadium.
6, Otherwise, if anybody will be at Yankee Stadium next Saturday, maybe we can meet for an 18 Stripes “toast the team” moment!