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Letters To Al: FSU Week, Time To Pull Out All The Stops

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This is a very important game for the Canes as it can literally make or break the season. They will go into the heart of their ACC schedule either with a two-game losing streak or with a monumental win on the road against a Top 15 team that they have not beaten since Al became coach. It is time to get that Signature Win that fans have been clamoring for and that Coach Golden needs to try to win back the fan base after last week's debacle against Cincinnati.

Al Golden with Tommy Tuberville after the loss at Cincinnati
Al Golden with Tommy Tuberville after the loss at Cincinnati
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Al:

I do not have to tell you how big a game this is for the school, the program and for you personally. This game will dictate the rest of the season and give Miami a chance to go a leg up in the ACC Coastal and win a game that no one predicts that we can win.

This is the game that you can erase the naysayers from the Cincinnati game and show them that the U is back on track. The question is what are you willing to get the team emotionally, physically and mentally prepared to play in Tallahassee against a team that you have never beaten.

Here is what I see that needs to happen this week in order for you to win at Florida State:

First, I think that the offensive line needs to be shuffled up a bit and they need to stop with the false start and holding penalties. I think that Joe Brown and Kc McDermott need to get more playing time as they are probably the best lineman that never see the field.  They played earlier in the season and had success, but they hardly saw any time at Cincinnati and that was reflected in the result.

Next, I have seen too many bubble screens in traffic. When you line up in trips to one side and throw the screen, it gives the receivers chances to make a key block to spring the ball carrier, but too often these blocks are being missed and the opposition is throwing a nickel or a safety onto that side of the field which creates a mismatch and there are not enough people to make the blocks and the play results in a three-yard gain.  If you want to run the bubble, with a speedy receiver, isolate him one on one against a corner back to the weak side and have a receiver in motion and a back out there to throw a block to spring them for a big gain.

I also think that you need to stay on the vertical passing game. Aside from Jalen Ramsey, the FSU defense is not as good as it has been in recent years and USF showed that you can have success throwing on them.  I think that you need to take as many shots down the field as you can and run the slant and the post early and often.  You can beat them vertically with your speedy receivers.

This also includes getting Braxton Berrios in the game and let him do his damage on the 12-yard slant or a drag route to take up the middle of the field.  The more you can throw to him in the middle of the field, the more you open up the outside throwing lanes for Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters. FSU needs to see the pass coming to all areas of the field so they do not know where you are going.

By using the bubble screen correctly and by getting your ball control receiver, Berrios, in command of the game, you can improve that weak third down statistic.  The problem is that we either do not have a third and manageable or the offensive line cannot spring the back for two or three yards.  I have given you instructions on how to make that possible.  We need to win on third down and on defense we need to get off the field on third down.  Time to improve that statistic and make this a winnable game.

The next big thing is putting pressure on Golson.  He is not that good a quarterback and is still turnover prone.  If you give him too much time in the pocket, he will beat you as he has a talented supporting cast.  This is one game that if you pressure the quarterback you can force him into making mistakes which your offense can capitalize on.  Make this game count and pressure the quarterback and throw different blitz packages at him.  This is where you and D'Onofrio have to get creative and you have to figure out how to rattle him from the first play forward.

I think that I have given you the blueprint for success this week.  The choice is yours as to how you want to implement it.

Only you can dictate how this week is going to go, but the plan that you choose to implement and the plays that you choose to call.  I would rather go into the heart of our schedule with a big win, then have a dead week of practice because we lost two straight on national television.


Good luck.

SAS