A Passing Vulnerability

The Florida State secondary wasn't quite sure what to do with a few extra seconds.

That was what the mobility of Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans was giving his receivers as UVA handed FSU a 26-21 defeat Saturday night.

Having to run with opposing pass catchers longer and more frequently than in any other game this season, FSU's defensive backfield floundered, giving up 306 passing yards to the normally ground-oriented Cavs on the night.

A forte turned into the most focal flaw - the Seminoles had surrendered an average of just 131 passing yards in its last four outings prior to Saturday.

Virginia tight ends Jonathan Stupar and Tom Santi and receiver Fontel Mines, among others, got the best of FSU's smaller secondary in improvisational situations as Hagans scrambled to make plays. All three stand 6-foot-4 or greater and were able to come away with jumpballs even when tightly covered.

An off-night from the pass rush also contributed. The normally sack-happy Seminoles got to Hagans just twiceSaturday. On several occasions, FSU defenders were a split second short of corralling Hagans for a pressure-relieving sack before he got rid of passes that resulted in gains or face-saving incompletions.

The Seminoles surrendered 13 gains of 15 yards or more through the air.

It could have been worse - Hagans overthrew Deyon Williams on what could have provided the game-sealing score early in the third. With Virginia up by 16, Williams blew by Tony Carter one play after Gary Cismesia had missed a field goal but led him too far.

Carter was the culprit again late in the game. With the margin now 26-21 and FSU needing a third-down stop, the freshman jumped an out route by Williams too soon and was whistled for a pass interference penalty that gave UVA a fresh set of downs.

Stupar and Mines led Virginia with five receptions apiece. Hagans - sharp the entire night - completed 27-of-36 attempts, a pair of touchdowns included.

Nole Digest Top Stories