20 September 2011
Florida State enters conference play with rather extreme injury concerns on the offensive side of the ball. The Seminoles may or may not be without starting QB EJ Manuel and if they do have him, he would be playing with a considerable amount of pain. At this point, it is obvious that the most glaring weakness the Seminoles have is the lack of a ground game. Despite injuries at QB and possibly entering Saturday's game down as many as four wide receivers, Florida State would have a good chance of winning if they had a running game to deflect to.
Yesterday, we discussed some of the things we may expect to see out of Florida State in order to move the ball against the Clemson defense. If Florida State cannot establish a run, there will be heavy bubble and screen type plays ran to exploit the poor discipline and suspect tackling that the Clemson back seven have shown in the first few games. These are some of the scheme options that will likely be explored, but how do you explain the lack of run game so far?
It is a combination of pieces lacking along the interior offensive line and backs that have not run with the same confidence and tenacity they have in the past. You begin to wonder if this week sees a personnel shakeup with those units. At this point, do you continue to work with the unit you have and hope that they finally start to gel? Or do you shake things up with the hope that someone else can step up? The same question has to be asked in regards to ball carriers. For all the justified criticism that has been heaped on the offensive line, Florida State needs someone to attack on the ground with a bit more determination than we have seen. Senior RB Ty Jones seems tentative for some reason, Chris Thompson has seen limited opportunities and hasn't seemed the same due to injury issues and freshman Devonta Freeman has missed noticeable cutback lanes as well as struggled in pass protection. Perhaps it is time for veteran Jermaine Thomas to be called into action with hopes of a spark off the bench.
The benefit of having a ground game against Clemson is running the clock and keeping the defense fresh for an uptempo attack. It wil be interesting to see if the Noles resort to a bigger, more powerful type of attack with a combination of Smiley/Pryor or Pryor/Wilder in the I-formation. This is not a look that they run very often, but it is there as an option. Multiple backs on the field for the purposes of pass protection is likely, but will anyone step up and be able to gain four and five yards a pop on the ground? It has not been done to this point in the season.
Photo courtesy to Orlando Sentinel
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