Fee Fi Foe Film: Florida State Offense Comment Count

Ace December 27th, 2016 at 2:38 PM

Much of the information in this post is provided by Pro Football Focus.

So, yeah, that guy might be a problem.

Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:

While FSU's most serious injury issues are on defense, they're making some adjustments on offense, too. Senior left guard Kareem Are is expected back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion. His replacement in those games, redshirt freshman Cole Minshew, is now locked in a battle at the other guard spot with redshirt junior Wilson Bell, who's also dealing with some legal issues. Minshew grades out as the best of the three, albeit in a much smaller sample size, so we have him projected to start over Bell.

The other injury situation to keep an eye on is at receiver. Funchess-like jumbo wideout Auden Tate was spotted in a non-contact jersey at Monday's practice. They're also likely to make a change at kicker. Logan Tyler, who's 1/2 on the year, is taking first-team reps over Ricky Aguayo (brother of Roberto), who's 17/24 but looked awful against Florida, missing well short on a 49-yarder and getting a low live-drive 44-yarder blocked.

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Hybrid that leans pro-style. FSU spent a lot of snaps in the gun with three wideouts on the field, but they also go under center and play a fullback on about a quarter of their snaps.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? FSU has a pretty diverse running game. They like getting Dalvin Cook to the edge and they'll do it in a variety of ways: zone stretch, toss sweeps, and counters, along with a couple screens, got him into plenty of space against Florida.

Hurry it up or grind it out? Right in the middle; FSU is 55th in adjusted pace.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Deandre Francois has some good straight-line speed, though he's selective in using it. According to PFF, he's scrambled 20 times at 7.8 yards per carry, and he generally takes what the defense gives him before getting down; he's forced only one missed tackle. He's at his best as a runner when he can step through the pocket and go straight upfield:

FSU features him on some occasional designed runs, mostly lead sweeps that act as counters to Cook runs going the opposite direction. The Noles ran several plays that looked like read-options but I'm not sure they were true reads; Francois always gave.

I'm giving Francois a 7 on the dilithium scale. While he doesn't utilize his legs often and isn't likely to make a guy miss in the open field, he can pick up healthy chunks of yardage when he takes off.

Dangerman: Take Akrum Wadley, add 30 pounds, make him a faster and more instinctive runner, put him in an offense designed to maximize his usage, and you have Dalvin Cook. This is no knock on Wadley. Cook is the best back Michigan has faced this year. Nobody, not Saquon Barkley or LJ Scott or Wadley, combines the speed, power, patience, and vision of Cook.

Cook is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, which is quite a feat behind this FSU offensive line, which has one reliably good player: left tackle Roderick Johnson. Johnson is steady in pass protection—not elite, but solid—and he looked excellent as a run blocker. Most of FSU's best run plays come off the left side and it's not hard to see why; the announcers are focused on the tight end here, but watch Johnson (#77) chip Florida DT Caleb Brantley—a legit early entry candidate—hard enough to move him over a full gap, then slide out to the playside linebacker to seal off a huge hole:

Johnson will be a good test for Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton as they try to make a final impression on NFL scouts. He can only block one of them at a time, however, and that'll spell trouble for FSU.

Zook Factor: Nothing egregious to note here.

HenneChart: Francois is in a tough spot as a redshirt freshman behind a bad offensive line. He makes some NFL-level throws in the face of pressure; his mechanics sometimes break down even in clean pockets leading to missed throws; he makes the occasional freshman error. FSU protects him by calling a lot of short, quick throws to the perimeter. Even with a lot of easy completions built into the offense, Francois didn't have an impressive game statistically against Florida: 15/26, 138 yards (5.3 YPA), 1 TD, 1 INT. The Hennechart reflects his boom-or-bust nature:

Florida 3+ 7 (5) 2 (1) 4 3xx 1 1 -- 1 55%

Francois has no shortage of arm strength. Florida may not have tight coverage here, but this is still an NFL-level throw in the face of a free rusher:

His interception, on the other hand, was both a terrible read and terribly inaccurate:

Francois nearly threw another pick into the end zone because of another freshman mistake: he had nobody open and tried to thread the needle instead of throwing it away and living to fight another down—Jalen Tabor would've had an easy interception if a linebacker hadn't tipped the pass on the way through. While his talent is apparent, he still has plenty of growth left, and his offensive line exascerbates many of his issues. He's going to make a couple throws that leave you tipping your cap; he's going to make a couple throws that give Michigan defensive backs an opportunity to make a game-changing play.


FSU runs the bulk of their offense from a shotgun three-wide set. When they go under center, usually on early downs, it's a clear tip for run or the occasional very surprising waggle:

Formations Run Pass PA
Gun 12 21 3
I-Form 4 -- 1
Ace 7 -- 1
Pistol 4 1 1
Heavy -- -- --

Their clear preference is to run until it's absolutely necessary to throw. This doesn't even fully represent the conservative nature of FSU's approach; a big chunk of these throws were within five yards of the line of scrimmage:

Down Run Pass PA
1st 15 4 3
2nd 9 7 2
3rd 3 11 1

After acknowledging that Cook will be an NFL feature back for a long time, the discussion of FSU's offense has to start with the offensive line, which is 85th in adjusted sack rate and grades out poorly in all facets on PFF. They're usually competent in the run game, at least, though the non-Johnson linemen are prone to getting blown out. Here's Wilson Bell, who's trying to hold onto his starting job at right guard, getting knocked back to completely blow up a play:

Center Alec Eberle was the most freqent culprit on stuffed running plays. In pass protection, FSU didn't allow a sack, but the effects of Florida's pressure were still obvious. FSU utilized designed rollouts on a high percentage of their throws, yet Francois still had pressure in his face on several of them:

That second screencap was a hold on tight end Ryan Izzo, who didn't look good as a blocker, that negated a dead-on completion by Francois into a tight window. When not rolling out, Francois sometimes makes the job harder on his offensive linemen by dropping way back; this pressure was half on the OL for losing their blocks and half on Francois for doing the Madden dropback instead of stepping up:

He did get the throw off there but couldn't make a completion into a hittable window between zones.

The offensive line isn't the only thing holding FSU's passing game back. Against a Florida secondary that's a good facsimile of Michigan's, FSU's receivers struggled to create separation. Travis Rudolph caught a long touchdown when FSU hit a deep dig against a soft Cover 2; Rudolph had a nice catch-and-run but that was more an RPS win than him beating a defensive back. Slot-types Kermit Whitfield and Nyqwan Murray combined for three catches for 11 yards.

While he only had two catches, I thought Auden Tate was the best bet to produce against Michigan. The one-time Michigan recruit looks every bit of his listed 6'5", 225, and while he doesn't get a ton of separation he knows how to use his big frame to box out defensive backs, even the likes of Jalen Tabor:

If Michigan wants to shadow receivers, I'd guess they'd put Jourdan Lewis on Rudolph—the most dangerous big-play threat—and Channing Stribling on Tate. The guy Michigan may most need to worry about in the passing game is Dalvin Cook, who averages 10.7 yards per target despite getting the vast majority of his catches near the line of scrimmage. Jabrill Peppers will be watching him closely.

I clipped a fullback dive touchdown mostly to show that FSU has their own version of the Hammering Panda:

Freddie Stevenson has 90 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries this year; he's athletic enough to hit big plays when opponents overplay Cook in short-yardage situations and he's also a solid lead blocker.

This matchup comes down to two things: Michigan's ability to keep Cook from gashing them for too many big plays and their ability to offset the inevitable big Cook plays by harrassing Francois into mistakes. Given FSU's way of taking the pressure off Francois was to call a lot of rollouts that are susceptible to creative blitzes, I like Don Brown's chances of finding a way to get his front seven to hit home on a regular basis.



December 27th, 2016 at 4:39 PM ^

in his 1st year under Jimbo's O system, so Golson was clueless, read the wrong side of the field a lot (not the wrong WR, but the wrong side of the field).  And all of the OL who started in 2015 returned this season, so now they're at least 2 year starters (some more like LT Johnson).


December 29th, 2016 at 9:46 AM ^

Cook has averaged 4.84 ypc.

Michigan's D is lights out--the best in the country.  That said, FSU's O is the best O (in terms of S&P) that Michigan has played.  So it makes sense to expect that FSU's O will has as much or more success against Michigan's D as any O opponent.


December 27th, 2016 at 3:23 PM ^

2014 - what a class for RBs.  Probably 2 top 10 picks in an era the RB has been de-emphasized in the draft.  And you could see Chubb or Freeman go in the first too when their time comes.

Fournette ranked #1, Cook #2, Sony Michel #3, Chubb #5, Freeman #6. 

Elijah Hood at NC was #8 and he too is a very good college RB...1463 yds in 2015 with a 6.7 ypc average!  Just under 6.0 ypc this year and 900 yds.

Perine of Oklahoma was #15 that year - he of 1700 yds and 6.5 ypc... as a freshman!

Sony Michel doesn't have the big name and shares the backfield with Chubb but had 1100+ yds in 2015 and avberaged 5.3 per.  This year 5.5 ypc and nearly 800 yds despite Chubb there. Must be nice Georgia to get Chubb and Michael in the same class.

The only bust in the top group was #5 Roc Thomas @ Auburn who is now plying his trade at Jacksonville State.


December 28th, 2016 at 6:55 AM ^

Yeah, the OL on the FSU 2013 team was so bad that three of them—Cameron Irving, Bryan Stork, and Tre Jackson—were All-Americans. The NFL had such a low opinion of the three that Erving was drafted #19 overall in the first round, with Stork and Jackson getting picked in the 4th round.

Clearly, the AA ratings services and the NFL should have been listening to you instead.


December 29th, 2016 at 9:56 AM ^

in 2015 and for a lot of 2016, esp. in pass pro (see poor Sack rate, etc.).  That said, after multiple lineup changes this year, they have finally settled in on a starting lineup that has experience.  For example, the FSU OL didn't allow a sack vs. UF (who has a good front 7) and didn't commit any OL penalties (false start, holding, etc).  

Don't get me wrong, Michigan's front 7 is the best BY FAR that FSU will face this year.  But the OL is playing it's best ball in the last 2 seasons.  (Note: FSU's OL is still very young.  Although all starters have starting experience in the last 2 seasons, they will return 4 or 5 starters next year.)  

In general, FSU is young.  Michigan has 10 Seniors starting on its D.  FSU doesn't have 10 Seniors on its team.


December 27th, 2016 at 4:12 PM ^

he's not a good OL. FSU OL is probably the worst in the country which is amazing considering Dalvin Cook put up numbers on a consistent basis.  RB's ability and vision is far more important than OL blocking. Put Dalvin Cook behind Michigan OL, he can easily run for 2,000 yards this season.

Mr. Yost

December 27th, 2016 at 4:19 PM ^

Glasgow and Hurst are going to FEAST.

I like our DBs matched up with their WRs. The Peppers vs. Cook matchup is interesting.

My biggest concern are the LBs getting and setting the edge. Then overpursuing and getting gashed up the middle.

Thomas and Hill are going to have to have huge games helping out Bolden and McCray.


December 29th, 2016 at 10:07 AM ^

be tough to stop.  Glasgow matches up with Eberle who's a little undersized, but Glasgow isn't much bigger than Eberle, e.g., Eberle has had to match up with guys like Dexter Lawrence (340 lbs) this season.  Eberle is very heady, which is why he's the starter (note that FSU signed the #1 Center in 2016, Baveon Johnson, but Eberle is still the better option overall b/c he really understands the game.)   

I honestly don't know who will start at RT against Hurst, but RT is another weak spot on the OL.  If Ruble starts at RT, Hurst will get his.  


December 27th, 2016 at 4:22 PM ^

If I were a GM, I'd knock his grade down a couple of notches for choosing to call himself Teez. 

I have a feeling that Francois will have an Andrew Luck type game, where he enters the 4th with a line of something like 20-30 235 yds 1TD 2 INT, then goes ham to make it close in the end.

I was super impressed by the Francois-Cook performance in the Clemson game-- even while Francois was getting sacked or clobbered just about every other play. FSU had some really clever runs in that game that allowed Cook to just jet for deep runs a couple of times. Luckily, I think that was a "empty the bag of tricks" type-game, and I just don't see FSU having any great suprises unless a WR breaks out in a big way or the O-Line improves with bowl practices.


December 27th, 2016 at 4:35 PM ^

Hmm won't pretend to be an expert on FSU...only watched them twice all year...one of those times was the Louisville blow out. Their o-line didn't look all that great..but "worst in the country"? I find that hard to believe. Great backs often have the ability to find their own yards but I have seen some sizeable holes for Cook to run through.


December 27th, 2016 at 5:38 PM ^

Harbaugh would love FB Freddie Stevenson - I went to the Clemson FSU game and recall him making some nice blocks but dude also moves pretty well (like on the 40 yard sweep he busted in the 4th quarter vs Clemson).
M vs cook and FSU run game should be fun to watch, great matchup


December 27th, 2016 at 5:57 PM ^

If FSU blocks and Springs Dalvin, it will be tough to win for Michigan. Strib has had trouble with the edge and Dalvin won't be caught in the secondary. The athleticism of Michigan LBs is something that is exploitable....IF FSU can get their skill guys to the second level. The left side of the line is the strength for FSU so that matchup will be fun to watch. FSU run blocks better than they pass block. Michigan does a great job up front. The difference may be how well the corners tackle on the EDGE. Holding first downs from being touchdowns out there will be huge. Any play with Dalvin on the edge is a potential TD. He is that good.