Florida State is Handling the Pressure..
The above subject line is up for your interpretation. FSU goes into each game knowing that the contest will be a dog fight from the opening whistle until the final kneel downs. So far this season the Noles have gotten by on luck in certain games and having far superior talent than most of their opponents in others.Last weekend was no different when they went up against the Virginia Cavaliers at Doak Campbell Stadium. The score was 28-20 as late as eight minutes left in the third quarter and then FSU pulled away from the offensively challenged Cavaliers.
There have been lots of trouble spots for the Noles the last few weeks that were painfully on display last weekend. First, a lack of a consistent running game has become a concern. Even before Dalvin Cook's injury, FSU's run game was sputtering. Against the Cavs they finished with 39 attempts for just 115 yards which is a paltry 2.9 yards per attempt. With Cook possibly hobbled or possibly not playing versus the Canes this weekend FSU may be in for even tougher sledding.
The second issue has been turnovers by the offense, specifically from their Quarterback position. In the last three games alone Winston has thrown six interceptions and seen his Quarterback Rating (QBR) drop from the high-80s to the mid-70s. Now, stats aren't everything but they do show a trend of over reliance on a select few pass catchers.
The last point we will discuss about FSU which was just mentioned in the above paragraph is their pass catchers, or in this case, lack thereof. Since game one Winston has relied primarily on Rashad Greene through the air. They've mixed in Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane, Nick O'Leary and Jesus Wilson every so often but the primary option has always been Greene, period. This isn't because Greene is head and shoulders the best receiver in College football, it's just the lack of the other speedy wideouts inability to get open. Greene is very good so don't be mistaken but this team needs the others to really step up and start finding seems in their opponents coverages if they are to play up to their full potential. Against the Cavs, Greene again caught the lion's share of passes (13 of 22 completions) and Winston only spread the ball to four total targets the entire game.
Florida is Gaining Steam with Each Passing Win..
The question is: is it enough? Muschamp has reeled off two straight dominating victories and has two down-and-out opponents still on the schedule before the last week of the season when they take on FSU. First things first though, they need to take care of the struggling gamecocks this weekend at home.
The main reason for their resurgence the past two weeks has been their ability to run the ball. Last week against a scuffling Vanderbilt Commodores defense they rushed 50 times for 214 yards. The week before that when they tallied the upset victory over Georgia they threw the ball six total times. Keeping the game plan simple and to the point has helped Treon Harris settle in as the starter at QB and has also kept the defensive unit fresh.
UCF, Miami and USF all on Bye Week
Just like last week's post, each team should feel differently during their respect rest periods. UCF and USF are looking to get back on the winning track as they've both lost their last contest before the break. Miami on the other hand is riding high off their three game winning streak.
FAU and FIU Continue Losing Skid, both at 3-7
It's hard to discern who is doing better or worse between these two squads. I'd say it's as hard to decipher as the ACC Coastal but I'll leave that to my Power Rankings Partner in crime Richard Paolillo..
FIU lost a heartbreaker 38-35 to Old Dominion and FAU lost a bludgeoning to North Texas 31-10. Even though the scores would dictate, in theory, that FIU played better when compared to FAU please consider the talent for each opponent.
North Texas has historically been a dumpster fire of a division one program. The Mean Green played in a bowl game last year (and won!!) but their last appearance before that was in 2004. Their record since the start of 2007 has been even more barren at 26 and 59. Keep in mind, it's not like they play in the SEC, they're the doormat of Conference USA.
I tell you about North Texas to them put in perspective as compared to ODU who beat FAU in a thriller at their home stadium in Norfolk, Virginia. ODU STARTED THEIR FOOTBALL PROGRAM in 2007 from scratch. Let that sink in.. They started competing against division 1AA teams in 2009 after just two recruiting classes and then jumped to Conference USA in 2013. As this is their first year playing against true 1A teams in earnest they were expected to be the "cupcake" game on each teams schedule due to the talent gap.. Don't tell FIU that..