The Florida State Seminoles hit a real low in 2018. FSU dropped to a 5-7 record and a 71st rating per the S&P+. Heading into 2019, the ‘Noles are ranked 28th in the S&P+ pre-season rankings. Willie Taggart is in only his second year in Tallahassee as the head football coach although it feels much longer. FSU fans aren’t going to have a lot of patience for Coach Taggart and rightfully so, Jimbo Fisher won the BCS National Championship for the 2013 season.
Much like Miami last season, FSU had a strong defense with poor offense and kicking holding them down. The ‘Noles biggest weakness is on the offensive line where they’re playing maybe Group of 5 players there. Remember, the 2018 FSU offense was their worst since the 1970’s, as was their 5-7 record. But Coach Taggart didn’t sit idly by, he made a controversial hire in new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.
New offensive coordinator
Kendal Briles, the son of Art Briles, was brought in to run the offense in Tallahassee. The younger Briles is known for resurrecting bad offenses. In his one season at Florida Atlantic he raised the Owls offensive S&P+ from 69th to 30th in a season. In 2018 during his one season in Houston he raised their offensive S&P+ from 43rd to 20th. Art Briles, Lane Kiffin, and Major Applewhite are all “offensive gurus” who have relied on Kendal to boost their offense. Even at Baylor where they were 11th in 2014, with Kendal at OC in 2015 they finished 3rd in the nation in offensive S&P+.
Personnel and Scheme
Kendal Briles will want to run a spread out hurry up scheme with an up tempo approach. Last season, as OC of the Cougars, Houston was 11th in plays per game. The Cougars were also 9th in points per play in 2018. Expect the FSU offense to improve. Here’s what it will look like.
11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) will be a common thread. Briles will want to run the football with the running back and the quarterback but will work around James Blackman’s lack of athleticism with the RPO game.
In the GIF below, Houston QB D’Eriq King waits too long to throw the bubble and it’s almost a loss. Some how the receiver breaks a couple of tackles and puts away a 24-yard touchdown. The screen game is a nice easy completion, it forces cornerbacks to tackle which they don’t like to do, and it can work into a nice setup of complimentary plays.
One of those complimentary plays is the fake screen wheeled deep shot. In the GIF below you can see the defenders bite down on the now screen and let the #3 receiver run free. The Arizona Wildcats don’t adjust to the motion to bunch set and they’re burned by a 53-yard touchdown.
Briles, both Art and Kendal, have always been creative in getting the running game going. Whether it’s plays like power read or jet sweeps. Do I see Blackman running power read? Probably not. But can I see FSU using their skill guys out in space? Sure. Check out Coach Briles’ jet sweep with a pin/pull concept from a 2x2 bunch set below.
Of course a Briles offense is going to have deep shots as he looks to score quickly at all times. Briles likes points per play to go with his tempo and wants to score 40-or-more points every single time out.
This last GIF is a really fun set up inside the red zone. The Cougs use a winged h-back, a slot in motion, a pump fake to said slot, and a hard slant inside the red zone for a score. The Jeff Bowden level of vanilla offense will be gone at FSU with Briles at the helm.
The ‘Canes travel to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles on November 2nd, 2019. Miami has to go on the road but will have plenty of film on Briles’ offense by November to be prepared for what a new coordinator brings. ESPN gives FSU a 65% win probability and Bill Connelly gave the ‘Canes a 51% win probability on his team preview. Even with Coach Briles in place FSU is still relying on freshmen, JUCO transfers and a grad transfer to improve the offensive line, and if Blackman goes down it’s Alex Hornibrook as the backup.
Blackman and the FSU line have to slow down Nesta Silvera, Jonathan Garvin, and the rest of the ‘Canes defensive line in order to win this ballgame.
Prediction: Miami by 2