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Five Questions with Tomahawk Nation about BYU vs. FSU

This week we have a short interview with Bud Elliot from Tomahawk Nation about the upcoming game against BYU.  Make sure to check their site for my answers to their questions.  Check the interview after the jump.


1. What went wrong last week against Jacksonville State? Was the Florida State team overlooking them because they are and FCS team?

Jacksonville State was all about effort and situational factors.  I warned of this in FSU's preview when I wrote:  

There's also the motivational issue.  FSU is not motivated to play this game.  They are coming off a huge letdown loss, are on a short week, and are looking ahead to BYU.  They will come out listless.  This isn't a judgment on them- it happens to every college team under these circumstances.  The crowd will be very small, probably under 60K people, and it is going to rain...
As it turns out, FSU had a horrible week of practice and the game was played in a monsoon.

I've also written extensively about the phenomena of the hangover effect and the look ahead game here.

Jimbo Fisher made the point that a team would never play a Thursday game after a Saturday game, yet the 'Noles had the same amount of rest with their Monday-Saturday timetable.  Only 2 days or practice, with an unfocused team.  

Finally, people don't realize that Jax State would beat many D1 teams.  Their roster is composed of kids who have been thrown off or flunked out from some really good teams.  Their QB is the former MVP of the SEC Championship game.  Their Nose Guard is a former 5* who made the game saving tackle for UF against Oklahoma last year.  They don't have typical D1-AA talent. 

2. So far Florida State has given up 599 passing yards in two games, what are the expectations of the FSU defense against BYU which will most likely be the best passing offense the Seminoles will see this year?

It's a major concern.  While I think that UF has a much better passing game than BYU (they just don't throw it as often), Miami's might be close.  Those guys are loaded, and are very well coached.  I have a ton of respect for BYU's attack.  As with any Air-Raid attack, you have to pick your poison.  I anticipate that FSU will press and blitz, which means BYU must go deep.

Hall seems to be very accurate generally, but I haven't seen him throw the deep ball with accuracy (not the lob pass, but some of the deeper tough stuff).  So press and blitz.  It's a high-risk, high-reward strategy.  It's also high variance. FSU has CBS' #1 CB prospect nationally in Patrick Robinson, which should help.  

One thing I don't anticipate is FSU playing a lot of zone.  FSU doesn't play a good zone, and Hall looks like really plays well against zone defenses.  Additionally, BYU's guys are unreal at sitting down at the holes in zones.  So hopefully there won't be much zone.  I just can't see FSU letting BYU move down the field in 5-10 yard dink and dunk passes. 

3. BYU's offensive line is still relatively inexperienced, so what are some things that we can expect the defense to do against that offensive line?

PROWLER.  FSU isn't really big up front, but they visited the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers this summer.  One thing they brought back is this 1-5-5 defense for passing situations.  1 defensive lineman, 5 line backer/ defensive ends/ safeties, and 5 defensive backs.  It really causes problems for teams because they have no idea who is coming, as all the players are standing up!  There are tons of combinations a team can run from this set.  Here's a clip: go to the 4:01 mark. Reid literally runs two Miami linemen into each other and then sneaks around.

As we saw in the Oklahoma game, and the Oregon game against Boise, an inexperienced offensive line can really hurt a team if they don't work as a unit.  In the spread, there is even more pressure against combo blitzes, twists, stunts, etc.  

Also, a historical note:  this is the defense the Giants used to beat the Bills in the super bowl in Tampa in 1990 right after we entered the Gulf war.

4. What will Florida State do to attack BYU's defense that has surprisingly been very good this year?

Defend 11.  FSU is going to spread BYU out.  They will test BYU's 3rd and 4th cornerbacks.  If BYU wants to blitz, they will have to do it from a slightly greater distance, which will make it easier for FSU to pick it up.  But most of all, defend 11.

I haven't seen BYU play well against a team with a mobile QB.  A terrible UW team almost beat BYU last year because BYU couldn't account for Jake Locker.  TCU dismantled BYU by running their QB and putting a wide out at QB.  And Utah of course runs the spread option.  

FSU had the most efficient rushing offense in the ACC last season, running a lot of the zone-read and option principles.  Can BYU defend all 11 offensive players?  If so, at what cost?  Are they dropping a safety down into the box?  If so, that limits the possible coverages they can play.

 Are they able to stop the run game with only their front 7?  If so, huge advantage BYU.  But the only 2 teams that were able to stop FSU's run game with only their front 7 last year were Boston College (DT's selected 8th overall and 40th overall in 1st and 2nd round of NFL draft, and a Butkus Award Finalist), and UF.

 I happen to think BYU will need that extra guy to stop FSU from running Ponder, who was the quickest player on the team last season (fastest shuttle time). 

5.  BYU has shown so far this year that they are capable of playing smash mouth football and being able to score a lot of points.  What style fits Florida State better, and are they capable of playing both types and still win games?

This is an interesting question. If you want to beat FSU, spread them out and run your QB.  That's far and away the best way to go, and FSU has lost to some really inferior teams because of that.  But failing that, I think it's about even.  Against an Air-Raid team, FSU is going to do what they love to do- press and bring the house, make the other team pick up the blitz and make the downfield throws.

 Against the I-Formation, FSU is going to load the box.  BYU is better off spreading, but only if they stay committed to the run.  Teams that get caught up in the moment and abandon the run usually get smacked by FSU because eventually that speed catches up, and a tipped pass becomes a pick-6, or a QB's arm is hit and he fumbles.  FSU wants to get after the passer and play the run on the way to the passer.  Making them stay honest against the run from the spread set, even without the running QB, is probably BYU's best bet.  

Bonus Question: Bud said the answer to this question will come at the end of the week, but has hinted he is slightly leaning to FSU.