(C) 2002 Kenny Moore. All Rights Reserved.
Georgia Tech 13
FSU escaped from Atlanta with a hard fought eight point victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a game where Seminole fans should understand we were very fortunate to win. Georgia Tech outplayed us for the majority of the game, but we were able to hit them with four huge plays for which they had no answer to secure the victory. Two of those plays were big TD passes by Adrian McPherson and two of those plays were interceptions by Stanford Samuels. Take any one of those four plays out of the equation and we could well have found ourselves on the losing end of this game.
Our offense had trouble moving the ball effectively for much of the game. Our defense played their best football of the season in preserving this victory with their second straight second half shutout, but they still had a difficult time in containing the Georgia Tech offense. As a result, we seriously lost the battle of field position in this game, which played a significant role in the struggles of our offense in putting points on the board. Fortunately FSU brought an ability to hit with the big play on occasion in this game and prevented Georgia Tech from getting any big plays to counter our own. That was the difference in this game.
1. Craphonso Thorpe with a bad decision to come out of the end zone on the opening kickoff. To compound the problem, he was hesitant on the return again. I don't know why he wants to completely negate the major advantage he has and the primary reason he's back there--his speed--by running so indecisively looking for spots that close too quickly because he's not aggressively going after them. Georgia Tech killed him at the 9 yard line and then a block in the back penalty took us back inside the 5.
2. At times, it looked like our ground game really missed the presence of Greg Jones. Nick Maddox did an *excellent* job, but I think we could have hit Tech harder on the ground with our usual 1-2 punch. But that pretty much goes without saying. Anyway, we had 12 unsuccessful carries in the game for 7 yards. Here are the lowlights on the ground:
--Nick Maddox with a 2 yard run: B.J. Dean didn't get a block and just ran into the pile, Patrick Hughes with a block he needed to sustain longer, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, Antoine Mirambeau and Todd Williams with a double team block, Alex Barron with a block he needed to sustain longer, Paul Irons with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a -1 yard run: Anquan Boldin couldn't get to his block on the safety in time and that killed the play, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, Antoine Mirambeau pulled and didn't block anybody (first time I recall seeing us pull our center), Todd Williams pulled and needed a better block, Alex Barron with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block. Mirambeau should have hit the safety but probably wasn't expecting him there. This is the second play where the Yellow Jackets knew exactly what we were doing.
--Willie Reid with a -5 yard run: Nick Maddox needed a better block, Brett Williams was beat badly to the inside to kill the play, Matt Heinz with a block, Antoine Mirambeau missed his block, Todd Williams and Alex Barron with a double team drive block towards the sideline. On this one, we finally got a little bit innovative and used some misdirection on the play. Trouble is that the net effect of the misdirection was that we ran our same standard shotgun run, only more slowly than usual, allowing the D to be there to crush it. When we run misdirection in the future (and I do hope we don't scrap the notion to do so because of failures like this), we need to make sure we're running a play to the opposite of our established tendencies.
--Nick Maddox with a 1 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, B.J. Dean missed a decleater but got enough of a piece of the guy to call it a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, Antoine Mirambeau and Todd Williams with a double team block but they were beat by the DT to kill the play, Alex Barron with a block.
--Nick Maddox with no gain on a run: Leon Washington with a block, Brett Williams and Todd Williams with a double-team block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, Ray Willis with a block. Leon needed to hit the MLB instead of Mirambeau's guy. Tech knew we were running on this play as they scooted their safety over to play the run and ignored our WR again.
--Nick Maddox with a 3 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Matt Heinz missed two blocks, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and had nobody there to hit, Brett Williams with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 3 yard run: Anquan Boldin missed two blocks, Torrance Washington with a pancake, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz with a block he needed to sustain longer, Antoine Mirambeau with a pancake, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 1 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, Torrance Washington didn't block anybody, Paul Irons with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz pulled and missed his block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block he needed to sustain longer, Alex Barron knocked his guy down.
--Torrance Washington with no gain on a run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams needed a better block, Bobby Meeks needed a better block, David Castillo and Todd Williams with a double team block to knock their guy down, Barron with a block he needed to sustain longer.
--Nick Maddox with a 3 yard run: Torrance Washington with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks missed hitting a LB after pulling off a double-team chip block to kill the play, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams steered his man to the outside.
--Nick Maddox with a 2 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, B.J. Dean missed his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams and Antoine Mirambeau with a double-team block, Todd Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Ray Willis and Paul Irons with a block. Maddox was hurt on this play.
--Leon Washington with a -2 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks and Antoine Mirambeau with a double-team block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams needed a better block, Paul Irons was beat badly to the inside to kill the play.
3. Adrian McPherson struggled in the passing game en route to an 8 of 24, 139 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT performance. In his defense, his completion percentage was sharply decreased by several dropped passes suffered and by at least a couple of balls he deliberately threw out of bounds. But we never could seem to get into any kind of extended flow offensively. A big part of our problem was the horrid starting field position we seemed to have for almost the entire game, but on every drive we seemed to have something happen to keep us from looking very sharp offensively. It was either a pass batted down at the line, a pressure allowed to cause an incompletion, a bad pass, a dropped ball, no one thing, just a bunch of different problems that left us only able to attain 279 yards of total offense. Georgia Tech's defense entered the game as the #46 defense in the country, so it wasn't all them shutting us down. We're still not clicking offensively, and if we'd have had a similar defensive effort in this game as some of the other efforts we have seen these last two seasons, rest assured we'd be talking about a very bad loss instead of eeking out a tough road victory. The lowlights in the air for AD and our receivers included:
--Anquan Boldin dropped the ball on a slant pattern. The ball was thrown behind him, but it was still very catchable and he should have had it.
--Forced a deep ball to Talman Gardner into double coverage when I think he'd have probably been better off just getting rid of the ball as both our WR's in the pattern were doubled and nothing was open for him running the ball.
--Willie Reid dropped a dump off pass. This one looked like it was thrown harder than necessary by AD and probably caught Reid off-guard.
--Anquan Boldin with a -1 yard catch for a loss on a flat pass. Georgia Tech was just all over us on this play. They seemed to know exactly what we were doing early on.
--Willie Reid with a 1 yard catch on a flat pass on the very next play. If at first you don't succeed, run a similar play again to the other side and watch it get stuffed too.
--Adrian McPherson with a pass batted away at the line of scrimmage on a 3rd and 10 play to force a punting situation.
--Overthrew Talman Gardner badly on a deep sideline pattern.
--Dominic Robinson dropped a perfect pass from Adrian McPherson that would have been a 2nd and 16 conversion.
--Intercepted on a deep sideline pass to Talman Gardner thrown to the inside. It was ruled incomplete, but I thought that was a bad call as it looked like the ground caused the drop. I wish it would have been intercepted as Tech would have started in worse field position there than they did after our subsequent punt. Our WR's need to do a better job of adjusting to the ball to take away inside position on any of these passes where McPherson doesn't put it over their outside shoulder.
--Didn't get the hail mary pass off before the end of the half. His rollout was too flat and he didn't get outside of the pocket before it collapsed. He needed to roll deeper then step up to the line. This one wasn't the OL's fault, so I'm not going to put this one with the pass protection breakdowns.
--Short hopped an out pattern to Craphonso Thorpe.
--Overthrew Gardner badly on corner route.
--Adrian McPherson had a 3rd and 6 pass batted down at the line to kill a drive for a GT three and out series. We really need to get him to work on choosing his passing lanes more wisely.
--Robert Morgan dropped a 3rd and 5 slant pass to kill a drive.
--Patrick Hughes dropped a 3rd and 3 pass over the middle to kill a drive and was injured on the play. Amazingly Georgia Tech had him double covered on this play. Why?!?!? Obviously it was the right decision, but what in the world would prompt a team to double cover our tight end?
4. Our pass protection caused some problems for our offense in this game. Here's the list of plays where we needed to do a better job in this area:
--Adrian McPherson with a spectacular job avoiding a sack, but could only scramble for 3 yards on a 3rd and 11 play after not finding anyone open after eluding the sack. The pressure was allowed by Todd Williams and Antoine Mirambeau failing to pick up a DE on a stunt. They both just stood there spectating. Matt Heinz was beat on the play as well.
--Adrian McPherson sacked for -3 yards. Pressure allowed by B.J. Dean whiffing on a block and Antoine Mirambeau getting bulled back by a DT.
--Pressure allowed by Bobby Meeks caused a hurry and incompletion to kill a drive. Meeks was confused by a Tech stunt and didn't pick up the DE.
--Pressure allowed by B.J. Dean and Nick Maddox not picking up a blitzing LB forces an incompletion. Dean probably should have taken the LB and left the DE to Maddox with the way they were positioned. Dean took the DE and Maddox was outside hitting nobody. I don't think Maddox would have been able to get over to the LB.
5. While our secondary did play their best game of the season, it is not lost on me that we did so against a quarterback that I feel has a lot of proving to do in A.J. Suggs. I haven't been that impressed with him at all from the Georgia Tech games I have watched and was less impressed with him in our game. Any quarterback that allows our previously porous secondary to look good and make game winning/changing plays has to have his competency at the position challenged IMO. He was able to hit us for 22 of 44, 211 yards, and 1 TD in the game, but suffered 3 interceptions to diminish his performance greatly. Here are the lowlights for our pass defense:
--Rufus Brown was beat deep on the second play of the game and was lucky that the pass was dropped.
--Leroy Smith and Claudius Osei were beat deep on the third play of the game and were lucky that the pass was overthrown.
--20 yard TD allowed by WR Thomas beating Stanford Samuels on a deep slant pattern. I have to admit that at this point of the game, I was none too happy with #10 out there when put into context with some of his efforts in previous games. This wasn't such a bad play as his coverage wasn't terrible. It was a good throw timed perfectly. But given how Samuels has been abused in previous games, I was thinking that teams just had to look for #10 when they wanted points.
--Allen Augustin missed what I think should have been an easy interception by playing the man instead of looking for the ball on an overthrown screen pass.
--31 yard catch allowed by WR Smith to give up a 3rd and 13 conversion, beating Bryant McFadden who ran himself totally out of the play by not looking back for the underthrown ball. McFadden has looked like he's lacking in fundamentals a few times in the last two games. That's a concern. Claudius Osei was nowhere to be found with help on the play as he was trapped in no man's land.
--12 yard pass allowed to RB Daniels on a screen pass. Jerel Hudson fell down after getting blocked by what I think should have been ruled an ineligible man downfield. Everyone else on our D was occupied with blocks or coverage. I don't really fault Hudson for this one as I think the refs blew this call. I could be wrong as I'm not sure how the receiver being behind the line of scrimmage impacts this rule. But they definitely had a lineman downfield on this play.
--Bryant McFadden was lucky that Tech dropped a 3rd and 10 deep sideline pass. Georgia Tech wanted interference on McFadden on this play, but IMO it was offensive interference if anything as the bump caused McFadden to stumble allowing the WR to get his hands on the ball to almost make the grab. The crowd thought McFadden's stumbling interfered with the WR, but I didn't see it that way.
--9 yard catch allowed by WR Watkins beating Allen Augustin. I'm not sure why Kendyll Pope left Watkins. I guess it was the type of zone we were in, but it looked like Pope should have stayed closer to Watkins on this one.
--19 yard catch allowed by WR Smith on a sideline pattern beating Leroy Smith. This was a good comeback by the WR to help his QB.
--14 yard catch allowed by WR Watkins beating Michael Boulware who didn't cover his man. Yohance Buchanon was blocked and couldn't get over. Boulware showed a blitz but then dropped back into coverage but didn't pick up the slot WR who it looked to me like he should have taken. We again let Tech out of the hole deep in their territory with this play.
--7 yard catch allowed by WR Watkins to get a 3rd and 3 conversion beating Michael Boulware and Allen Augustin.
--12 yard catch allowed by WR Glover beating Bryant McFadden on sideline comeback pattern just short of a 4th and 13 conversion. McFadden was lucky they were too dumb to make sure to get the ball past the marker because this would have been really bad for us to surrender a first down here on a 4th and very long play.
--21 yard catch allowed by WR Thomas beating Leroy Smith and Kendyll Pope.
--16 yard catch allowed by WR Glover on a medium range out pattern beating Michael Boulware and B.J. Ward in zone coverage. Good job by GT creating coverage confusion with their formation here. I expect to see a lot of this from NC State.
6. FSU's 7 penalties for 69 yards throws this into the negatives section this week. Most of our penalties came on special teams, leaving us to start in the hole on offense on far too many occasions. I must have missed a penalty because I only counted six.
--Block in the back penalty on Pat Watkins, Kamerion Wimbley or #12 on our special teams (take your pick as they all had illegal blocks on this return) negated a beautiful 59 yard punt return by Leon Washington. With the number of bad blocks on the play, you can't really call this negating the play though as I doubt Leon would have gotten anywhere close to 59 yards without those blocks.
--Illegal procedure penalty on Patrick Hughes.
--Holding penalty on Robert Morgan (I think) negated an 8 yard run by Nick Maddox.
--Block in the back penalty on Pat Watkins on a punt return.
--Leroy Smith with a pass interference penalty. On this one he was shielding the receiver without playing the ball. Good call by the refs here.
--Kamerion Wimbley with a 15 yard face mask penalty on a punt return late in the game. This one was UGLY and could have proven extremely costly as we gave Tech good field position to start their final drive.
7. Our run defense, particularly on Georgia Tech's excellent rendition of the option from the shotgun formation (were you watching Jeff Bowden and Doug Dickey at how to run the ball from the gun with more than just that same slow developing inside handoff that teams are now locked in on with us?) was roasted for 185 yards on 42 carries. It seemed a lot worse than that with the frequency and ease that Tech was carving through us with that option play. There aren't too many QB's that are less of a running threat than A.J. Suggs IMO, so the notion that you have to have a running QB to throw some option into the offensive attack doesn't hold water when you see how much success Tech had against us. With very mobile and elusive runners like Adrian McPherson and Chris Rix threatening defenses, this play from the shotgun could be a terror for us if we chose to utilize it. We really should learn from Georgia Tech's success in this game as their innovation and creativity in devising this option attack from the gun greatly increased their chances to pull off the victory. The lowlights for the run defense include:
--7 yard run allowed by QB Suggs on a keeper after a play fake on a 3rd and 6 play: Kevin Emanuel totally bit on the fake, Darnell Dockett couldn't get up in time to make the stop after getting knocked down by a block, B.J. Ward was beaten for the final 3 yards of the run letting Suggs lunge over him for the first down.
--10 yard run allowed by RB Clinkscale on an option play: Michael Boulware was blocked, B.J. Ward missed a hit, Allen Augustin was blocked.
--9 yard run allowed by RB Daniels on an option play to allow a 2nd and 5 conversion: Kendyll Pope was blocked, Jerome Carter was late on run support due to following the TE in motion away from the play, Allen Augustin was out of position at the snap, easily blocked by being too tight to the line.
--6 yard run allowed by RB Daniels to get a 3rd and 3 conversion. Kendyll Pope was blocked, Allen Augustin was blocked, Jerome Carter couldn't come up fast enough to prevent giving up the first down.
--11 yard run allowed by QB/WR Smith: Allen Augustin totally missed an easy tackle, Jerome Carter took a bad angle, Kendyll Pope was blocked.
--16 yard run allowed by RB Clinkscale on an option play: Yohance Buchanon caused a fumble with a good hit at the end of this play, but Tech recovered for an extra four or five yards, Michael Boulware was slow reacting to the play and was blocked, Stanford Samuels was blocked, Allen Augustin was blocked, Buchanon was slow coming up in run support as Clinkscale had 10+ yards before the hit was made.
--20 yard run allowed by RB Daniels on an option play: Kendyll Pope was blocked, Allen Augustin was blocked, Stanford Samuels was blocked, Jerome Carter was slow on his reaction to the play making a bad read in run support.
--16 yard run allowed by RB Clinkscale: Kendyll Pope was blocked, Allen Augustin was knocked down, Claudius Osei missed a tackle, Rufus Brown was blocked. Georgia Tech started the second half with this drive at their own 7 yard line. Our D let them out of the hole immediately with this run. Those are the sorts of opportunities that we're not capitalizing on. FSU defenses of old would hit a team hard in that situation and force a three and out or a turnover to seize momentum.
--13 yard run allowed by RB Clinkscale on an option play: Ray Piquion was blocked, Robert May was knocked down, Kendyll Pope was blocked by three guys, Leroy Smith was blocked, B.J. Ward took a bad angle and was juked, Jerome Carter was a little bit late reacting to the play but did a good job coming across to make the tackle. I don't know how we didn't have someone else over there with so much attention given to Kendyll Pope in GT's blocking scheme.
--11 yard run allowed by QB Suggs on a scramble: Travis Johnson couldn't get to him, Allen Augustin with a poor effort not closing to make the hit looking like he feared Suggs' speed (what speed?) then was blocked late, Michael Boulware was juked. I have no idea what Kendyll Pope was doing on this play- -very late reacting.
--14 yard run allowed by RB Clinkscale on option play: Jerome Carter was blocked and then missed a tackle attempt, Rufus Brown was blocked, Kendyll Pope was blocked, Robert May was blocked.
--5 yard run allowed by RB Daniels on an option play to pick up a 3rd and 2 conversion: Leroy Smith was blocked, Kendyll Pope took a bad angle, Allen Augustin was blocked initially but made the play.
--1 yard run allowed by QB Suggs on a QB sneak on a 4th and inches play. Our DL did not get a good surge at the snap at all.
8. Jared Hetzel with a rare special teams mistake in letting a ball bounce into the end zone misplaying it to allow the touchback. I actually think he might have been able to catch this ball on the fly inside the 5 instead of letting it bounce.
1. Nick Maddox played a huge role in FSU ultimately emerging victorious. He didn't put points on the board, but he sustained drives, chewed clock when we needed to, and provided a stable force in our ground game that Tech was forced to respect in their defensive scheme. That's going to be vital in the development of Adrian McPherson because without that running threat, I think his completion percentage would have probably been even lower than it was. Here's hoping Nick Maddox can continue to put up solid numbers for us on the ground. Game ball to Nick Maddox for his 22 carry, 122 yard game and for his much needed leadership on the field. I just hope his injury late in the game wasn't something that's going to slow him down for any of our remaining games.
For the game, we had 14 successful carries for 103 yards. Combined with our 12 unsuccessful carries in the game for 7 yards, we totalled 26 carries for 110 yards. The official numbers say 26 carries for 124 yards (counting the carries by our backs and one planned run for AD) and I'm not sure where the 14 yard discrepancy would be. I know I have Willie Reid with a carry for -5 yards that isn't in the boxscore in the newspaper. There was also a Nick Maddox run for 8 yards that was called back due to hold that he may have gotten credit for that I didn't list because of the penalty thinking it was a negated play. So I'm guessing this is part of it. Using my numbers, we had a modest 53.8% success ratio and a decent but not spectacular 4.23 YPC average.
Here is the list of successful carries on designed running plays:
--Nick Maddox with a 13 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, Patrick Hughes was beat to the outside, B.J. Dean knocked Hughes' guy down, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block, Alex Barron with a block. This one was just great vision by Maddox cutting to a hole against the flow of the play and then adding to his yardage with another good cut downfield.
--Nick Maddox with a 1 yard run on a 2nd and 1 play: Willie Reid missed his block to kill the play, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz missed his block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block he needed to sustain longer. Georgia Tech knew exactly what we were doing on this play as the safety left his coverage on the slot WR before the snap to stop the run. We really need to vary how we run from the gun so teams can't do things like this. Fortunately Maddox did get the first down.
--Nick Maddox with a 6 yard run: Dominic Robinson with a light block, B.J. Dean with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a pancake, Alex Barron with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 13 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with two blocks, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 6 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, B.J. Dean with a pancake, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with two blocks and knocked the second guy down, Matt Heinz with a block but was thrown down, Antoine Mirambeau with a block but was thrown down, Todd Williams pulled and didn't get to the block as he hit the stack and fell down, Brett Williams with a block.
--Adrian McPherson with a 1 yard run on a QB sneak to get a first down: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Matt Heinz with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 5 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, Torrance Washington missed his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and got two blocks, Antoine Mirambeau with a block after missing on initial block, Todd Williams with a light block, Alex Barron with a pancake.
--Nick Maddox with a 4 yard run: B.J. Dean decleated two guys with an EXCELLENT block reminiscent of Zack Crockett going bowling for linebackers against Notre Dame in 1994, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and stared his man down, phenomenally intimidating him with his mere physical presence into falling to the ground untouched (such skills will serve Meeks well in his FSU career), Antoine Mirambeau didn't block anybody, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams missed a decleater attempt.
--Nick Maddox with a huge 12 yard run to pick up a 3rd and 6 conversion: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks knocked his guy down, Antoine Mirambeau knocked his guy down, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Craphonso Thorpe missed a downfield block as he fell down.
--Nick Maddox with an excellent 12 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Antoine Mirambeau and Todd Williams with a double team block, Brett Williams with a block. At this stage of the game Maddox was totally taking over.
--Nick Maddox with a 4 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, Leon Washington with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with two blocks, Antoine Mirambeau failed to pick up a LB shooting a gap by not leaving a double team block on Meeks' guy quickly enough, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
--Nick Maddox with a 4 yard run: Patrick Hughes and Ray Willis with a double- team block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Antoine Mirambeau knocked his guy down, Todd Williams knocked his guy down, Brett Williams and Paul Irons were beat on a double-team block to kill the play.
--Nick Maddox with an 18 yard run: Craphonso Thorpe with a good block, B.J. Dean with a pancake, Patrick Hughes with a decleater, Brett Williams with two blocks, Todd Williams pulled and got a block, Antoine Mirambeau needed a better block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 4 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a decleater, Brett Williams with a block, Todd Williams pulled and tapped his guy, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Ray Willis missed a block on a LB that he needed to get (I'm not sure if he hit another guy), Paul Irons with a block.
2. Adrian McPherson didn't have the best of games, but did nothing to lose the game for us. That's a tremendous positive as this could have easily been the sort of game where a green starter would have that disastrous game we're all hoping AD can avoid. His ability to avoid the turnover was probably as important as anything we did on the day offensively to secure the victory. His two big TD strikes, along with Stanford Samuels' INT return for a TD, were major haymakers to the jaw of a Georgia Tech team that was otherwise dominating play for most of the game. Just one ill-advised throw or fumble may have been enough to tip things in the Yellow Jacket's favor in this one, and to McPherson's credit, he did nothing to allow that to happen. In that regard, this was a really good bad game for him. The highlights of our aerial performance included:
--Nice 9 yard completion to Talman Gardner on an out pattern off of a rollout.
--Incredibly beautiful 72 yard TD on a bomb to Craphonso Thorpe. The ball traveled 60 yards in the air and hit Cro in stride. Where has this been all year? Chris Rix's deep ball last year was one of his strengths, but it mysteriously vanished this year. I didn't think Javon Walker was that irreplacable in our offense as I thought Thorpe and Gardner would be able to pick things up with the deep threat, but it never really materialized for reasons I'm still not clear on. This big play is a big step in the right direction for us though. We really need to have a deep threat as a component of our offense. Maybe Thorpe is now ready to fill that role. So with this play and the Samuels TD, we took a 14-7 lead in a game that I thought we were being totally outplayed in. Two *big-time* plays were all we needed to have a half-time lead.
--Nick Maddox with a 16 yard catch over the middle. That's the sort of play I want us using more with Maddox. Passes to Maddox should not be limited to flares and dumpoffs. We should be able to utilize him more in the downfield passing game, hoping to get him isolated on a LB.
--Excellent 32 yard catch and run for a TD on a drag route to Boldin. P.K. Sam with a block, Leon Washington with a PHENOMENAL, crushing, knockdown block hitting a guy at full speed with everything he had to help spring the play for a score (our third nominee for block of the year), Talman Gardner with a big block to get Boldin around the corner to the end zone. Great running by Boldin with the lunge at the goal line. The announcer was ridiculous saying that Boldin wasn't paying attention at the beginning of the play. It was a designed delay in running his route that worked perfectly. This play capped a 4 play, 90 yard scoring drive in 42 seconds. That's a serious quick strike offense at work there and I hope to see more of that in future games than we've seen this year.
3. Adrian McPherson had a couple of nice carries running the ball out of designed passing plays.
--11 yard run on a scramble to pick up a 3rd and 3 conversion. AD had a great move to juke a safety in the open field to get more yards on this run.
--7 yard run on a scramble. He probably should have rolled out to his right to buy more time on the pass on this play given that we were at our own 48 with 16 seconds left in the half, but it still was a good run for the situation he was in.
4. Chance Gwaltney had an excellent game, punting ten times for a 41 yard per punt average. He also helped us out big-time in the third quarter with a punt downed at the three yard line and then with a 53 yard punt in a critical situation where the big punt helped fend off what looked like a surge in momentum going Georgia Tech's way. He had another punt that should have been downed inside the five yard line. He is much improved over last year.
5. Our defensive backs had easily their best game of the season so far, making numerous big plays, including the two enormous plays by Stanford Samuels that turned the game our way. Just when we thought Rufus Brown and Bryant McFadden were playing the best ball among our CB's, Stanford Samuels and Leroy Smith step up and have excellent games to put that thought into doubt. Jerome Carter led the team in tackles with 11 (speaks well for Carter, but it's never good for a D to have a safety leading the team in tackles). The highlights for our secondary included:
--Good coverage by Leroy Smith on deep sideline pattern.
--82 yard interception and return for a TD by Stanford Samuels! It cannot be understated how important this play was for us winning this game. This play totally turned the entire game around. Georgia Tech was looking to go in for a two score lead at the time. Our offense was looking inept and things were looking bleak for the Noles until Samuels stepped in front of this A.J. Suggs pass and took it to the house to tie the game. On this play Samuels redeemed himself for giving up the earlier TD and my thought about if a team is looking for points, they should look for #10 held true, only in our favor this time. Samuels had beautiful timing on his jump to the ball and did an excellent job on the return, both with his running and in keeping his balance on Suggs' failed tackle attempt. Nice downfield blocks by Tony Benford and B.J. Ward helped with the return.
--Bryant McFadden with good coverage on a deep sideline pattern.
--Kyler Hall and Michael Boulware made an excellent play to hold a WR flare pass to no gain. Our D swarmed on this play. Good job.
--Leroy Smith with excellent coverage on a pass to the end zone causing an incompletion. Tech wanted interference on this one as well, but I didn't see it. Could I be biased? Maybe, but I like to think I'm fair in calling it as I see it
--Leroy Smith with an excellent pass breakup in the end zone.
--Stanford Samuels with a nice stop on a short pass to WR Smith for a 3rd and 14 stop. He had a good open field tackle here to force a punting situation.
--Leroy Smith with an excellent open field tackle to hold the receiver short of a first down on a curl pattern.
--Stanford Samuels with a pass breakup on a ball thrown behind the WR.
--Stanford Samuels and Alonzo Jackson with a good job stopping a flat pass to WR Smith inches short of a first down on a 3rd and 5 play after Michael Boulware missed a tackle.
--Stanford Samuels with a game winning interception to make his way fully out of the doghouse. HUGE play by Samuels. The ball was thrown right to him, but he did a great job in making the play when it counted most. Welcome back to good graces Stanford!!! He was right in his post game interview when he said that he really needed a big game. Hopefully this will continue for the rest of his FSU career. Game ball to Stanford Samuels for a huge 2 INT, 1 TD effort. We couldn't have won this game without his play.
6. Our defensive line had a pretty active performance. Our DE's did a solid job of forcing the pitch early on all those option plays, but it was a matter of "then what?" for the rest of the D. The high points for the front four included:
--Alonzo Jackson and Travis Johnson with a -2 yard TFL on a reverse. Great job by Zo blowing the play up.
--Jeff Womble with a -1 yard TFL on a run by QB/WR Jonathan Smith. This was another good wrinkle by Georgia Tech to use Smith in this way. Womble stuffed it on this occasion, but they got a couple of good runs by Smith doing this.
--Eric Moore with a -3 yard TFL on a busted play where the QB just went to the ground on his own. Moore gets credit for the TFL IMO because he was closest to the QB, made the unnecessary touch on the ground, and was the primary reason the QB decided to just eat the busted play.
--Eric Powell with a -5 yard TFL. Jeff Womble with the initial hit.
--Eric Moore with a pressure to cause an incompletion.
--Alonzo Jackson and Kendyll Pope with a nice stop on a 3rd and 6 running play after a 3 yard gain to force a field goal attempt.
--Darnell Dockett and Alonzo Jackson with a -9 yard sack!
--Donnie Carter with a -1 yard sack!
--Darnell Dockett and Allen Augustin with a -5 yard sack!
--Eric Moore with a tackle for a 1 yard gain on a run by QB Suggs on another busted play. If Tech was confused, Moore was ready to pounce. ;)
--Pressure by Alonzo Jackson caused an incompletion.
7. Our linebackers had one of their best performances of the year. Michael Boulware was all over the field and was probably our most valuable defensive player from an overall perspective. Game ball to Michael Boulware for his excellent play in this game. The highlights for our LB's included:
--Beautiful hit by Michael Boulware to hold a flat pass to the FB to a 3 yard gain.
--Michael Boulware and B.J. Ward with a -2 yard TFL on a flare pass to WR Glover. We're lucky Rufus Brown didn't get a late hit penalty on this play.
--Michael Boulware with a spectacular leaping interception of a deep sideline pattern intended for WR Watkins. Pure athletic ability on display here. Boulware put his past receiving skills to good use in bringing this ball down. NFL scouts definitely need to watch this play as you won't find many linebackers capable of making a play like this.
--Kendyll Pope with a HUGE hit to stop a dump off pass to RB Clinkscale for a -2 yard TFL on a 2nd and 1 play. Right now he's probably the only guy on our defense that could make that caliber of a hit. Awesome play.
--Michael Boulware with an excellent tackle to hold a flare pass to WR Watkins to a 1 yard gain.
--Kendyll Pope and Jerome Carter with a -3 yard TFL on RB Daniels on an option play. Allen Augustin with the initial surge to disrupt the play.
8. Gerard Ross pushed the Yellow Jacket return man out at the 15 yard line on a kickoff return and a holding penalty backed them up to the 7.
9. B.J. Ward almost blocked a punt. In fact I don't know how he missed it. I wasn't sure if I should count this as a positive or a negative, but I decided the rush was solid so I'd call it a positive play.
10. FSU's defense pitched a second consecutive second half shutout. I do hope this is the beginning of a very positive trend. I think this is a result of our making the change at QB. Reason: Bobby Bowden making the move that he did put the pressure on our defense to either put up or shut up. Faced with the potential for serious embarrassment due to their previous statements, our D has finally started to show some heart. I didn't agree with our approach at the QB position in terms of our offense, but it looks like it has paid big indirect dividends with the play of our defense.
Players of the Game:
Offense: Nick Maddox
Defense: Stanford Samuels/Michael Boulware
Special Teams: Chance Gwaltney