What we can expect from our team at the end of the season
With our bowl game looming on the horizon, this could be the last shot to excite our fans for the future
Enough's been said about Florida State's football season. All the hoo-blah and rah rah or whatever the hell most fans do to cause noise has been stated, and the 2017 season is finally coming to an end. Our once-head coach is gone, and we're fighting to end up over .500 (win more than half the games played in a season) for the season. With our last effort to leave our fans giddy for the future, what can we expect for our last game under interim-coach Haggins?
During our last outing, FSU ran 68 plays. Of the 68 plays, 34 of them were running. Granted, the game got out of hand mid way through the 3rd quarter, but we still ran the ball a solid amount of times. We tried to be unpredictable and balanced by coming out with an aggressive passing game, but once the realization that we were struggling struck we quickly had to rely on our run game. The Akers and Patrick as a duo is both dynamic and rare, and with our inconsistent O-line play and a young QB at the helm, its safe to say running game should be on full display for the Seminoles.
Southern Miss comes in with a stingy defense. They rank 28th nationally in rushing defense and 25th in pass-defense. They primarily run a 4-3 defensive scheme and occasionally mix in a 3-4 scheme (3 line-man, 3 linebackers, and a hybrid linebacker/linemen). That means they run a defense that involves four defensive linemen, 3 linebackers and 4 defensive backs. This defensive scheme was designed to stop a pro-style offense, which is coincidentally what we run, so this is clearly something to look out for.
They give up an average of 23 points a game, which is pretty impressive. This impressive stat is a result of a heavy amount of upper-classmen starters. If Florida State wants to come out on top, they must show discipline in the pass game and have good run-fit technique. Regardless of the Golden Eagles' promising defense, FSU just has too much athleticism and raw talent to do anything but dominate on the offensive side of the ball. Expect a 60-40 split between the run and pass game for the Noles.
Under an Odell Haggin's – led defense, expect our defense to come out passionate. With Derwin James (starting safety) and Josh Sweat (starting defensive end) making the decision to skip this year's bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft and Matthew Thomas (leading tackler) doing the same, there will be some questions as to what we will look like. This could lead to a rocky start for our defense coming out of the gate but we will quickly dig our heels in the ground and stand firm against their offense.
That means our newest players will be on full display. We've thrown many freshman into the fire throughout the year so this is not a rare theme. Freshmen players like Hansah Nasirildeen and Stanford Samuels III will see an exponential amount of time on the field and sophomore Emmett Rice will make his first start at the weak-side linebacker position. Other sophomore's such as Kyle Meyers and Carlos Becker will have to mature this game as they will now be looked upon as veterans due to the absence of James. Tray Marshall and Nate Andrews will also be graduating after this season- which only magnifies the pressure of becoming leaders to the team.
Southern Miss runs spread offense. A spread offense means they usually have 3+ wide-receivers on the field during offensive snaps. The purpose of running a spread offense is to expand the defense and make them cover all areas of the field. This tests the defense to their physical limits; linebackers must cover ground and fit their gaps, while the defensive backs must be able to cover the field horizontally and vertically.
USM has a 1,000-yard rusher running back in Ito Smith and a 1,000-yard catcher in Korey Robertson. Those are notable stats that FSU's defense must be prepared for. If they want to keep USM's offense out of the end zone, they have to pay special focus to these two.
I believe the Seminoles will come out on top 31-21. Expect the offense to run like it normally does, but hopefully pick up momentum faster than we have become accustomed to in past games. I expect the defense to come with the fire we were able to see in the last game.
It will be a fun one ladies and gentlemen. Regardless of the sub-par records and virtually nothing to play for besides bragging rights, I expect both teams to bring a significant heat.
Side note: Last time Florida State and USM played was in 1989 when USM has HOF'er Brett Favre as their QB. They upset Florida State 26-30.