Jake Heaps finally got his chance Saturday, taking all the offensive series except two in the first half and then all the snaps during the second half. He fared relatively well, but one has to wonder where Heaps and the offense as a whole would be at this stage had he seen starters reps early on.
Heaps helped give the team and the offense a lot of momentum going into the locker room at the half, but in the second half there were too many stalled drives and three-and-outs. Hopefully coaches have finally found their quarterback and we'll begin to see the offense get back its rhythm with Heaps getting a full slate of starting reps.
Running Backs: B
J.J. Di Luigi seems to be the only skill position player making plays three games into the season. which has to change if this offense is to be successful. Di Luigi again showed extremely well in both running the football and catching it out of the backfield.
Bryan Kariya had an unremarkable game, while Joshua Quezada contributed his first run of the season. The blitz pickups by the running backs as a whole weren't up to par with what they did against Washington, and they'll have to work on that this coming week.
Wide Receivers: D+
Where were they? The lack of production from the wideouts is killing this football team.
Cody Hoffman showed well early, but McKay Jacobson was noticeably absent, which simply has to change. Luke Ashworth was nowhere to be found and Spencer Hafoka didn't take advantage of getting into the regular rotation for the first time this year.
Tight Ends: C-
Where were they? Defenses aren't being forced to account for the tight end much if at all during passing plays. That fact, coupled with the inability to mount a deep threat, is bottling everything up in the flats and underneath the coverage.
O'Neill Chambers did contribute a couple of receptions from the YR spot and Mike Muehlmann and Austin Holt accounted for some good blocking, but other than that the tight end play was again very lacking.
Offensive Line: C-
The run-blocking was very good, but there were lapses in pass-blocking that one wouldn't expect from such an experienced and talented unit. Matt Reynolds allowed two sacks, which is highly unusual for him, though he was clearly hampered by a bum ankle.
Florida State's middle pressure was more effective than it should have been, as they were getting to the quarterback far too easily when only rushing four players. Walter Kahaiali'i got his first extended action of the year and did well at his right tackle spot.
Defensive Line: C+
This group had an outstanding first half with both Vic So'oto and Eathyn Manumaleuna making play after play from their end positions. The nose tackle position struggled a bit in defending the run up the middle, which brings into question how healthy Romney Fuga really is.
The second half saw the defensive front get worn down as Florida State's offense was on the field way too often.
Jordan Pendleton had about as good of a first half as one could hope for before being somewhat unspectacular in the second half. Shane Hunter accounted for some good plays as well with a fumble recovery and a pass knockdown.
Where this unit struggled mightily was in the open field and in their tackling during the second half. Cutback containment was lacking, as almost every Florida State big play came by virtue of a cutback on an off-tackle run or a sweep.
Kyle Van Noy got a lot of reps at Will linebacker and was unspectacular, as he clearly needs some more time within the system. Zac Stout saw a lot of reps during the second half and showed very well in defending the middle run, but like most of the defense, he struggled to make plays in the open field.
The cornerbacks were clearly the best position group on the field on Saturday. When they were beat, it was due to very precise passing by Christian Ponder and spectacular plays made by the receivers.
Steven Thomas went down early and was replaced by Travis Uale, who really struggled to take good angles and tackle players out of the defensive backfield. Andrew Rich didn't show forth one of his better efforts, which leads to a poor grade for the Cougar safeties.
Special Teams: A-
Riley Stephenson had a very good day punting the football and the kick coverage was again outstanding.
It's hard not to like the fact that they decided to let Heaps take all the snaps for the entire second half, as he's clearly the guy they need in there to get the offense cranking. Florida State made some adjustments in the second half, however, that Cougar coaches were either slow or unable to react to in order to make it much of a football game.