For the second straight week, Wake Forest were tremendously over-matched on both sides of the ball, and it led to another big loss.
The drive chart below pretty much tells the whole story.
Read more about FSU's big win over the Deacs after the jump
It was a long day in Florida for the Deacs yesterday. Mother nature did her part to try to give the defense a rest, but that was about the only thing that went right.
Florida State was clicking on all cylinders defensively, and the offense that looked so good against Presbyterian and Duke managed to do absolutely nothing.
FSU increased their NCAA leading sack total to 19 after getting 6 against the helpless QB's of Wake Forest. The offensive line provided very little protection for Price, and it led to him getting knocked out of the game in the 2nd half.
His status for Saturday is unknown, but it is unlikely that he will play given the conservativeness of Grobe, and the concern that comes with a concussion like injury. This would give way to Stachitas, who looked pretty good at avoiding the rush when he had a chance to actually catch his breath.
In a game that looked like a "glorified scrimmage" as Tomahawk Nation referred to it, there were few bright spots for the Deacs. It is hard to argue that the 'Noles were working on things for the future, especially on the offensive end. it was pretty obvious that they could have run all day, or simply thrown bubble and smoke screens to their receivers who had nobody within 5 yards of them. Yet FSU opted to throw the ball 39 times and run it 26 times.
Ponder had good numbers on the day (24-37, 243 yards, 2 TD's, no INTS, especially with an injury to his throwing arm, but against a better defense there were many balls that could, and likely would have been intercepted.
Although the offense struggled mightily against an overpowering FSU defense, on the defensive side I thought there was a lot of promise. Since FSU was committed to throwing the ball, it gave our pass defense a lot of much needed real game reps. I still disagree with some of the schemes that Coach Lambert is throwing out there (specifically regarding the aforementioned 5 yard cushion the corners are giving the receivers), but I was impressed with the secondary.
They were often times at the right place at the right time, and made some good pass break-ups. While people may disagree with me and tell me to look at how open the receivers were on their catches, I will submit to you this: how many times did the secondary provide great coverage in a cover 2 or 3 (man to man on the outside, zone linebackers for the slot receivers/slant routes, and zone safeties) for 3-5 seconds, only to have Ponder scramble and either find a guy open, or run for 5-10 yards? I know this happened at least 5-8 times. This stems from a lack of pressure on the QB.
Now don't get me wrong, Ponder got hit, and he got hit hard (especially by one Mr. Kyle Wilber, who I plan to write an article on later in the week, and Joey Ehrmann), but there was absolutely no pressure up the middle. Once the ends (Dorty and Wilber, and whatever LB's were blitzing) got to Ponder and he escaped, there was absolutely nothing stopping him from just running to where the blitzes were coming from, or throwing to the receivers that occupied the zone that the linebackers were coming from.
To be more effective on the pressure, we have to be more aggressive up the middle, and send more than 3 guys at a time (sometimes with a 3 man rush, the ends were the only ones blitzing and Whitlock dropped back into a short coverage/QB spy position).
I may be getting too analytical for a recap, but I am pretty happy with what I saw out of the defense on Saturday, all things considered. 31 points is also a bit misleading because it was effectively over at 17-0.
The offense was, to put it bluntly, atrocious. I understand that Florida State has very good defensive linemen and linebackers, but with as much talent as we have at the playmaking positions we should never get shut out.
I don't want to place blame on anybody in particular, so I will call out everything and everybody. The playcalling was atrocious. I understand that we wanted to keep the game close and be conservative (throwback to '06), but the defense isn't good enough to have as many 3 and outs as we did on Saturday. This isn't a slight to the defense, it's just a fact.
The counter draw was very effective early in the game. Josh Adams looked as good as he has all year (I think, I haven't seen enough of him to know). If we had left him on the field we may have found out. I have been a proponent of getting Josh Harris more playing time, but for goodness sakes, when you have a player that starts off hot, keep giving him the ball. Grobe said at the beginning of the year that we were going to work Adams like a horse, and also that we are going to try to run out of the I-formation (the formation that Adams runs the best out of), yet neither one of those has happened yet this year. I saw absolutely no I-Form plays against FSU (and I could be mistaken but I didn't see any against Stanford either). This may be because of Tommy Bohanon's shoulder, but that excuse is getting tired because I have heard from Tommy himself that the shoulder is fine (although on his fumble he did avoid contact with the shoulder). Adams is averaging 7 rushing attempts on the year, not exactly what I would call a workhorse.
The offensive line was woeful on Saturday. Florida State came into the game leading the nation in sacks, so I am willing to give a bit of leeway for a poor performance, but often times the 'Noles were sacking Price and Stachitas blitzing 3 people. They also weren't even making fantastic, athletic plays (other than the tip interception that their nose tackle had to himself). Often times they simply ran by our guys at the line of scrimmage, and that is unacceptable. They got to Price early, which gave him the happy feet and led to discomfort in the pocket and poor footwork on throws later in the game that he had more time than he thought.
I do think Price was a little gun-shy, but due to the camera work of ABC, it is hard to get a feel for how well the receivers were running routes and being covered. I think it is a combination of holding the ball too long, and the lack of separation being gained by the receivers to allow a place to throw the ball to. When you have these two things, and a bad offensive line, it is a recipe for disaster, and that is what happened on Saturday, culminating in the injury to Price.
A bright note on Saturday was the continued good punting of Shane Popham. He punted 6 times for 257 yards (42.83 yards a punt). His average on the year (41.43) is 46th best in the country. Certainly not as good as Ryan Plackemeier was, but not too bad either. He is getting the job done when called on, and that is all we can ask for right now.
It was a long day for Wake Forest on Saturday, but I honestly believe that we showed a lot of improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I have to say I am a little bit excited coming into the Georgia Tech and Navy games (both night games at Groves). We matchup well against both of these teams and also know what to expect. The play of our defensive ends (Wilber and Dorty) has me optimistic about our chances to sniff out the option attack. Combine that with Lee Malchow having a great sense of what goes on in the option and I am much happier than playing a pass happy team.
So all in all, I am not happy with where the team is right now, but I think we are headed in the right direction. The effort was there on Saturday, the coaching/gameplan/execution was not. These things will come with time, and by the end of the year I really think we are going to be excited heading into a very tough schedule next year.