The offensive line had a great game. For the most part they gave Porter and Ryan plenty of time. They mixed up the schemes well. They opened big holes. The draw was less effective in the second half, but I think that was more to do with Florida State adjusting rather than blocking.
The running backs played well too -- easily Whitworth and Callender’s best game of the year. Callender seems out of his funk. And every time I thought he should be in there getting more carries, Whitworth would respond with a decent run.
Good effort from the receivers. Lester scared me with his reaching for first downs, but he also had his best game of the year. Purvis also had a nice game. Gonzalez continues to show he has the best hands on the team. Nice showing from Robinson. Miller…dropping the late touchdown pass was a killer. And then there is Blackmon. As the touchdown catch showed, Will is great with the ball in his hands. But he had two deep drops and missed a catchable fade pass too.
Ryan played pretty well in a tough spot. By my count he had four bad plays. But he moved the ball downfield when we needed a score. And certainly has better touch and zip on passes than Porter. Like Syracuse last year, Ryan just happened to be under center during a tough loss. He was not the cause in either.
Times like this is when it is nice to be a fan writing a blog rather than someone trying to objectively cover the team. In Sunday’s Herald Porter said this: "It was awful," he said of watching the rest of the game, first from a kneeling position on the sideline, and then standing next to O'Brien. "It was awful because I was seeing things so clearly." I say, "bullshit". In addition to his two really bad interceptions (both were underthrown) he had -- by my count -- six other bad passes in the first half. Later he botched an exchange that Trueblood fortunately recovered. He overlooked a wideopen Gonzalez for a TD the play before Ohliger's missed field goal. And got very lucky on another play where Gonzalez came up with a ball that could have been another pick. Despite his own critique, Porter had a "D" effort. The offense moved the ball in spite of him not because of him.
Bible called a good game right until they got to the two yard line, down 11 with 2:48 left and three timeouts. Here is the sequence:
-- 1st and goal from the three. Whitworth up the middle. No gain.
-- 2nd down (the play started at 2:24) Run up the middle. 1-yard loss.
-- BC called a timeout with 2:12.
-- 3rd down pass. Holding penalty on Florida State. Half the distance. New set of downs.
-- 2:06 to go. Two timeouts remain.
-- 1st and goal. Toal run. Short gain.
-- BC timeout. 1:56 left.
-- 2nd down. Another Toal run. Stopped at the 1 foot line.
-- BC timeout.
-- 3rd down. 1:47 left. Pass...right through Miller’s hands.
-- 4th down. Push up the middle with Ryan. Stopped. FSU ball.
Now they needed two scores. So you could question going for it on fourth. You need the field goal anyway. But I understand going for the TD. "If the team can’t get it in, they don’t deserve to win yada yada yada…" I understand. But it is not what I would have done. The real second guessing comes in with four running plays when you need to score quickly. They burned all three timeouts with those plays. And what is the point of bringing Toal in if you can’t fake out of it? The whole stadium knows what you are trying to do when he is in the game. He is a stud, but he is not going to score every time he touches the ball. Please tell me they have a play action play when he is in the game.
I know that even if they had scored, it would’ve been tough to score again, but the coaching staff (TOB and Bible) did not give the team the best chance to win.
So the offense got a C. But really that should be a D for Porter. C for Bible and a B+ for everyone else.
They only really allowed one TD on their own. The others could really be attributed to others’ mistakes. But I am giving the unit a C+ for the chickenshit play calling in the fourth. The easing up in the fourth was made even more frustrating because Spaz had called such a great game up to that point. You can’t sit on a 3-point lead against a team as talented as FSU. For example, the team blitzed or run blitzed six times in the first half and five were positive plays. In the third quarter they blitzed or run blitzed an astounding nines times. Unexpected aggressiveness kept Florida State guessing the whole time. The players seemed to feed off it. Raji was destroying the middle of the FSU line. Kiwi had his best game of the season. Larkin finally made some noise. Things were great. They were rotating players with little drop off. (However, middle linebacker remains a problem. Dunbar loses his assignment in coverage when spelling the great coverage MLB Henderson. In contrast Henderson still is a weak tackler. He had two bad/missed tackles to start the fourth.)
So things were going well. The offense spotted the ‘Noles 14 and our D held them through three quarters, including the ultimate hustle play by Kiwi on Booker’s strip.
But in the fourth Spaz and/or TOB backed off. Only two blitzes the entire quarter…and both were half-hearted delays. The announcers attributed the difference to Weatherford finally clicking with the four-wide set. Nonsense. He was just comfortable for the first time. Because of this strategy, Florida State moved the ball for one TD and score the second on a short field after the blocked punt.
Overall, the defense played above expectations. Nearly everyone had their best game of the season. Spaz called a hell of a game for three quarters and one of his worst in the fourth. Porter’s play was the primary reason for the loss, but the fourth quarter defensive play calling didn’t help.
Special teams: C
First the good things. Great containment of the explosive Florida State return game in both the kick return and punt return. Tribble’s penalty shouldn’t have been called and was a great play. Will Blackmon only had one questionable return out of the endzone, but did not do anything bad or good of note. The costly plays were much more predictable. Ohliger’s missed FG would have made that final drive much more interesting. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I know finding a kicker is hard at any level. But then don’t go for long field goals. Going for it on fourth and getting stuffed is as productive as another miss. It might seem like I am tough on Ohliger. I would give him a break if he occasionally won a game with a big kick. But aside from West Virginia last year, he has been shaky in all other big games.
He wasn’t the only frustration on special teams. The blocked punt ultimately put the game away. Other teams are able to pick up on this weakness and we still cannot stop it. Mix up the blocking. Mix up the personnel. Do something! Virginia Tech must be salivating at the chance to wreak havoc on our punting unit.
I wonder how long we will allow these things to happen on special teams. By my count this is the third straight season where we can’t count on error-free kicking or punting.
Overall Grade: C
This game could have been won. I don’t believe in moral victories. TOB and staff played it too close at the end (and also punted it on fourth and a foot on the 30 down 11 with 6 minutes). The season is not over. But the coaching staff is going to have to play to win instead of keep things close. (The BC staff that let it rip last season at Notre Dame and called the fake kick against North Carolina might have won this game.) This has got to be rough for the players. They deserved a better start and a better ending.