The purpose of this writing is not to condemn you to all damnation. The purpose is to address a few points and hope that you can have the squad ready for Virginia Tech, the real first step in winning the Coastal Division.
I said before the game that we were going to have to control the line of scrimmage. We certainly did not do that on either side of the ball, especially in the first half. You started out as slow as the Dolphins normally do and before we could blink an eye, Dalvin Cook was over 100 yards and their quarterback was slinging the ball like Charlie Ward.
I do not understand why you still insist on a three-man pass rush, although you did step it up and rush four and five in the second half, which worked with some modicum of success. A three-man pass rush could not get a granny with a walker tackled for a loss and you still implement it. What is that doing against Florida State? I will tell you what it is not doing. It is not putting pressure on a mediocre quarterback and it is not stopping Cook.
In the second half you had more success rushing the passer with the four and five man fronts. Also, Cook had a tougher time running into the five man lines as his running lanes were shutdown. I did not see that in the first half and that is why we were on oxygen and staring at the nameplate on Cook's jersey for the first 30 minutes.
This was the second week in a row that you faced a quarterback that you knew could be rattled, and instead, you babied him and coddled him and gave him all the time in the world to find an open receiver. Golson is not a threat, but he looked like Johnny Unitas running that offense. Give me that kind of time and I will find one of the FSU speedsters to check down to for a first down.
In the second half, when you rushed more men, you rattled Golson and took him out of his element. He still did not turn the ball over, but I have to think that if you did it from Jump Street something good would have come from it. We also did not see the corner blitz which has been effective this season. There were no disguises on defense and it was pretty vanilla. I do not understand why we came out so flat and you were so predictable.
Last week I touched on the bubble screen and how much I hate it. I still hate it and we still have had no success with it. That might work against Savannah State or Florida A&M, but when you are going against All-American secondaries like Florida State, you are not fooling anyone and your receivers that are caught in the play are not coming up with the blocks to spring the ball carrier. If you throw to Stacy Coley in traffic, he is going nowhere because no one is blocking for him.
Speaking of Coley, you did a good job getting him into the game. He has been MIA for the last year and a half, but it was good to see the real Coley emerge. You have to get him healthy and use the hell out of him in the slot to open up the looks for Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters. That is called spreading the field. Until Saturday, I was unsure if you knew the phrase or the concept.
I like the aggression in the passing game and BK should be throwing for three scores and over 400 yards a game. However, there should be more vertical threats and less east-west plays called. If you are going to checkdown, check to Yearby or Walton, or even a tight end, that is downfield, not parallel with the quarterback.
The offensive line was pathetic. Florida State's front seven is not what it used to be and you let them dominate against your pass protection and against your run. You cannot beat FSU with BK chucking the pelota 50 times and expect him to be perfect every time. First, you cannot pass protect that well and he gets no time to throw, and the other team has to respect the run which you abandoned because you could not block. It is time for Joe Brown and Kc McDermott to get more reps with the first team and get to look at them in games. Trevor Darling and Sunny Odogwu are not getting it done and changes need to be made.
There were also too many costly penalties in the game, which again is due to a lack of discipline. This starts with you. You have to get this team ready to play, within the confines of the rules, and teach them that it is not okay to get flagged for holding calls or false starts on consecutive plays.
This team can still win the Coastal Division and play FSU again in the ACC Championship Game. It is up to you to right this ship and make sure that we do not lose to any more teams that we are supposed to beat and to get the team ready to defeat teams that we might not be favored against, like Clemson. Clemson will come in here with a top-five ranking and more than likely this will be their only test, with the exception of their home game with Florida State.
Al Golden and the Hurricanes can shock the world if you can give Clemson a beat down, on your own home field, in a game that more than likely will be televised nationally. That can be your signature win. That will be your only challenge this season that would be able to be called a great victory. No one else is playing up to their level, including Georgia Tech.
Make us believe in you Al. Make us all believe that you are better than your press conferences and that we can believe in you to lead us to the promised land. I have already started the column on who I want to see come in and replace you next season. Make me put that column on hold. Give me (and my readers) reason to believe that you can keep Swag 16 together and keep this program on the right course. A win against the rest of the ACC, including Clemson, will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
I wish you luck, because I think you are going to need it.
All the best,
Scott Salomon, '89