Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is one of the most poductive dual threat quarterbacks in the country. He is the only quarterback in the country with over 2,500 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards this season. Ward Jr. averaged 5.85 yards per carry and scored 19 rushing touchdowns.
Keeping Ward Jr. contained will be one of the toughest tasks Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Seminoles have had a lot of success against rushing quarterbacks this season. Only Clemson's Deshaun Watson ran for more than 100 yards against the much improved Florida State defense.
Florida State held three of the five dual threat quarterbacks they've faced this season to more than 2.5 yards per carry less than they averaged for the season.
|Player||Quinton Flowers||Lamar Jackson||Justin Thomas||Deshaun Watson||Treon Harris|
Thomas' numbers are inflated by a 60 yard touchdown run. He averaged just 2.3 yards per carry on his other 12 rushes.
The Seminole defense have focused on making running quarterbacks one dimensional by taking away their ability to run according to redshirt senior defensive back Lamarcus Brutus.
"Just doing our job," Brutus said. "I think Louisville might been one of the first ones that we played with a dual threat quarterback like that. But just doing our jobs. Keeping edges on them. Not allowing them to use his legs and his arm. Affecting them one way or the other. That's how you kind of take them out of the game or try to get the game in your advantage. Just keeping an edge on them and making them one dimensional."
The defense's ability to keep contain has paid huge dividends for the Seminoles this year as only one of the five quarterbacks found the end zone running the football. Another reason that the Seminoles have been so successful against running quarterbacks this year has been the emergence of true freshman safety Derwin James. James has been a force as a pass rusher, and as a run stopper this year. Having him close to the line of scrimmage affects the way quarterbacks choose to run.
"He's a gret athlete, and that allows him to make a lot of great plays. Him being down there and spying on the quarterback. I'm sure when quarterbacks see him down there they kind of know he's down there for a reason so it might affect them in a way where they don't run. They might stand in the pocket and pass. But then again he's an excellent blitzer too so when he's coming off the edge it affects the quarterback. I'm sure they know where he's at when he's on the field."
If the Seminoles can limit Ward Jr.'s rushing ability, and make him one dimensional as a passer, it will be a log day for the Cougars. That is easier said than done, but the Florida State defense has proven that they are up to the task with their performances this year.