Thursday, November 6, 2014

game preview: Florida State

Date/Time: Saturday, November 8; 6:30


Record against the Noles: 3-14

Last meeting: UVA 14, FSU 13; 11/19/11, Tallahassee

Last weekend: GT 35, UVA 10; FSU 42, UL 31

Line: FSU by 20.5

Injury report:


OUT: DE Trent Corney, LB Mark Hall, C Jackson Matteo, CB Demetrious Nicholson, CB Divante Walker, OT Jay Whitmire, WR Miles Gooch
DOUBTFUL: OG Ryan Doull, OT Michael Mooney

Florida State:

OUT: DB Colin Blake, DT Nile Lawrence-Stample, LB Delvin Purifoy, OL Austin Barron

Hope you enjoyed it the last time these two teams met.  The Hoos won't meet FSU again til 2020 if this stupid scheduling arrangement holds (long enough that it's entirely possible our coach in that game will have replaced a coach we hire this December), and this game isn't likely to provide any memories you'll want to hang on to.  Watching a field goal attempt sail wide after a glacial-paced replay in which UVA was hoping an FSU pass would be ruled complete - that'll probably have to do.

-- UVA run offense vs. FSU run defense

Top backs:
Kevin Parks: 150 carries, 626 yards, 4.2 ypc, 4 TDs
Khalek Shepherd: 54 carries, 227 yards, 4.2 ypc, 1 TD

UVA offense:
153.67 yards/game, 4.06 yards/attempt
79th of 128 (national), 9th of 14 (ACC)

FSU defense:
148.0 yards/game, 3.78 yards/attempt
42nd of 128 (national), 7th of 14 (ACC)

If there's anything that derails FSU's championship defense, it'll be just that.  The defense isn't awful, but it's pretty mediocre for a championship contender.  That said, they haven't played an easy schedule.  If you adjust for quality of teams, FSU's defense looks better, and this is the better half of it.  UVA's woes at running up the middle - made worse this week by the likely unavailability of Ryan Doull - don't match up well with DT Eddie Goldman.  (Doull also got bumped to second on the depth chart - a reaction to one play, a referendum on his play in general, or was he already doubtful by Monday when the depth chart came out?)

UVA, in fact, is down to eight healthy non-redshirting O-linemen - and really, seven, since one is a converted tight end weighing in at 260.  Seven!  Not only is that a really bad sign for the running game (which managed to be entirely unproductive against one of the worst run defenses in the country last week) it ups the risk of injury even more as it forces actual starters into action on things like kick protection.

It's probably not likely to matter.  If UVA falls behind early, and that seems a likely proposition, the coaches have shown a willingness to abandon the running game nice and early.  So even against an FSU defense that gives up some yards, this is likely to be an extremely unproductive day for all our ballcarriers.

-- UVA pass offense vs. FSU pass defense

Greyson Lambert: 102/169, 60.4%; 1,055 yards, 5 TDs, 8 INTs; 6.24 ypa

Top receivers:
Taquan Mizzell: 31 rec., 176 yards, 0 TDs
Canaan Severin: 30 rec., 385 yards, 3 TDs
Kevin Parks: 24 rec., 139 yards, 2 TDs

UVA offense:
243.9 yards/game, 6.57 yards/attempt
87th of 128 (national), 10th of 14 (ACC)

FSU defense:
240.6 yards/game, 7.05 yards/attempt
72nd of 128 (national), 10th of 14 (ACC)

Probably the thing that FSU lacks the most is a pass rush.  Only 12 sacks all year long, and four of them from Goldman on the interior.  That's a problem to watch for; if Goldman goes against Cody Wallace, there's nothing to like about that matchup.  Otherwise, though, only one other player has more than one sack - Mario Edwards, whose expected development into one of the conference's elite linemen looks stalled out for now.  UVA hasn't been perfect in pass protection, but not bad, and should at least be able to keep their quarterback on his feet most of the time.

Not sure we can say with any clarity who that quarterback will be, though.  Lambert got pulled again last week, and while I'd guess he'll get the call to go back out there, that's no guarantee.  It's not like Matt Johns was all that hot.  The passing game missed Miles Gooch last week more than I expected they would; Keeon Johnson had multiple drops, and the running backs got used as a crutch more than usual.  And of course, turnovers were murder.

FSU has allowed some fairly average quarterbacks to move the ball on them, but most of them still better than our own passing game.  Still, there's a small chance here.  If FSU had an average offense themselves, I'd say it's plausible UVA could move the ball enough to stay in striking distance.  FSU's defense is more athletic than most, so I'm not optimistic that anything involving a running back will work, other than an unexpected screen pass (that said, we call the screen so often that it's rarely unexpected.)  UVA's passing game is at its best when Severin and Jennings are the ones catching the ball; the Hoos' only hope is to get some big plays from those guys.

-- FSU run offense vs. UVA run defense

Top backs:
Karlos Williams: 98 carries, 470 yards, 4.6 ypc, 7 TDs
Dalvin Cook: 68 carries, 380 yards, 5.6 ypc, 5 TDs

FSU offense:
131.75 yards/game, 4.20 yards/attempt
74th of 128 (national), 8th of 14 (ACC)

UVA defense:
119.0 yards/game, 3.26 yards/attempt
17th of 128 (national), 4th of 14 (ACC)

This is a perfect example of why only fools use per-game statistics.  At some point during the game there just might be a graphic calling FSU the 102nd-best running game in the country - as if you win national titles by sucking at running the ball - and they'll neglect to tell you that only four teams run the ball less than FSU does.

This is probably because they know where their weapons are and emphasize them, a novel concept.  They're also working with their backup center after Austin Barron broke his arm a few weeks ago.  Even so, the run game is more than functional.  Karlos Williams is a big guy, very useful in short yardage, and Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender do the change-of-pace thing well.

One thing that isn't a big part of the run game: Jameis Winston.  Though often thought of as a mobile, running quarterback, his mobility is mainly behind the line of scrimmage.  He's cut back on his ballcarrying from last year, and has just a few bonafide runs on the season.

I'm still bullish on the run defense, though, the last bastion of hope on this football team.  It could've looked better last week, but against GT, it has looked much, much worse.  And best of all, you could see visible adjustments in the way they attacked the option.  FSU isn't likely to run wild on Saturday, but then, they're not likely to try.  The Noles will probably just concede this one and use the run only to keep UVA's linebackers honest.

-- FSU pass offense vs. UVA pass defense

Jameis Winston: 174/259, 67.2%; 2,279 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs; 8.80 ypa

Top receivers:
Rashad Greene: 58 rec., 853 yards, 4 TDs
Nick O'Leary: 33 rec, 364 yards, 2 TDs
Jesus Wilson: 28 rec., 356 yards, 4 TDs

FSU offense:
327.3 yards/game, 8.58 yards/attempt
18th of 128 (national), 3rd of 14 (ACC)

UVA defense:
225.7 yards/game, 6.98 yards/attempt
66th of 128 (national), 9th of 14 (ACC)

They can do that because ol' crab-legs is still slinging the ball around.  Statistically, you'd call this an obvious sophomore slump, although his numbers are down partly because of a mid-year suspension.  Even so, anyone would take it.

His favorite target by far is senior WR Rashad Greene, FSU's all-time receptions leader.  A pretty big accomplishment when the program has turned out guys like Peter Warrick.  Tight end Nick O'Leary and slot guy Jesus Wilson are the major complementary pieces; Travis Rudolph is enough of a threat on the opposite side to open things up even further for Greene.  It's a fairly deep attack, but Winston to Greene is the main story, and it's just plain hard to stop.

Even harder when your cornerback depth takes a hit.  If Brandon Phelps isn't in the game, things could get ugly fast.  Maurice Canady will probably have Greene as his assignment either way, and Canady has been simply awful the past few weeks.  GT's DeAndre Smelter just toyed with him.  Smelter had a big size advantage that Greene doesn't have, but that matters not at all against the league's top receiver.  So, no, not a lot of confidence here.

-- Favorability ratings

UVA run offense: 2
UVA pass offense: 3
UVA run defense: 5.5
UVA pass defense: 1.5

Average: 3

-- Outlook

The ratings are probably charitable.  This game is on the road.  And FSU has specialized in dominating the second half.  That should be a lot of fun considering we haven't seen a UVA second-half touchdown in four games.  Second halves have been nothing short of a complete embarrassment.  FSU has trailed at the half in four of their eight games so far and then come roaring back.  This week, they probably won't be trailing, and it's probably fair to say the fourth quarter will be played relatively close, because the third quarter will be a FEMA disaster zone.

-- Predictions

- No UVA running back tops 50 yards rushing.

- Both Lambert and Johns toss an interception.

- Lambert has better stats across the board - yardage, completion percentage, yards per attempt.

- Winston throws for over 300 yards.

- Greene absolutely torches the Hoos, with double-digit receptions.

Final score: FSU 45, UVA 7

-- Rest of the ACC

Byes: Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech

-- Clemson 34, Wake Forest 20 - Thu. - Wake becomes the first ACC team to officially miss the postseason.

-- Duke @ Syracuse - 12:30 - And Cuse probably becomes the second.

-- Georgia Tech @ NC State - 12:30 - Both Duke and GT are on the road against crappy Atlantic opponents, needing a win to keep pace in the Coastal.

-- Louisville @ Boston College - 7:15 - Basically the battle for third place in the Atlantic, for what that's worth.

No comments: