Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guest Q&A with Chant Rant

For the big showdown against the Seminoles we have a guest blogger again this week as Rich from ChantRant checks in and answers some questions regarding Florida State. Interesting that longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is getting such heat this season. Many thanks to Rich for the analysis.

1. The Seminole offense seems to humming along, leading the ACC in scoring and second in rushing yards. What kind of rushing attack does Jimbo Fisher like to employ (spread, option, etc)?

Rich: Well, the offense was humming along til the B.C. game. We doubt that Frank Spaziani, the Eagles D-Coordinator, has any ties to the Mafia, but his boys intimidated and outmuscled the Noles offense as well as any Soprano's crew. In previous games, FSU's run game was much improved over recent seasons. Jimbo Fisher, O-Coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting, is committed to building a balanced offense. So FSU runs out of various formations, including the I, spread, even an empty backfield. Say, what? Yes, empty backfield, because QB Christian Ponder is the Noles third leading rusher with 458 yards -- though a net of 309 shows that he's been a sack victim.

2. Mickey Andrews usually has a phenomenal defense and if you just look at yards allowed this group is pretty good however they have also been very uneven. Throwing out the first two cupcakes FSU us allowing a very un-Seminole like 24 points per game, what is the main explanation?

Rich: They've been hot and cold. Hence the rank of no. 8 in the ACC in Scoring Defense, giving up an average of 20.1 per game. But amazingly they're still no. 1 in the league in Total D. Hard to explain the inconsistency. They tend to either force 3-and-outs or allow big plays. That's why Mickey is beginning to feel some heat. The D was supposed to carry the team this year, while the young offense came of age. But Nole fans are very critical of the scheme he played in the loss to Georgia Tech, and then the letdown against B.C. One of the biggest knocks was that Andrews totally telegraphed blitz packages, yet B.C. had great success in disguising theirs.

3. It seems in recent weeks that RB Jermaine Thomas is taking over for Antone Smith. Please contrast their styles.

Rich: Smith is a Senior and is having his best year, undoubtedly looking forward to the NFL draft. He can really take off if he gets to the second level. And Smith's become a tackle-breaker, too. He ran over or through several Hurricanes to score the winning TD against Miami. Thomas is a true freshman and has good speed and size. But his biggest assets are quickness (he hits a crease in the blink of an eye) and great vision, so he's able to change course and weave for extra yardage.

4. Quarterback Christian Ponder seems to make mistakes in bunches. What kinds of defenses or schemes get him to to turn the ball over?

Rich: Ponder is young and still learning the finer points of quarterbacking. So he can look like a smart, seasoned veteran for several minutes, then throw into a crowd for an INT. Last Saturday, B.C. confused him with zone coverages, while their D-line put the pressure on. Result: his worst game of the season, except for the Wake game when he was far more wet behind the ears. Despite B.C.'s fierce rush, Ponder threw late several times. Then again, with FSU's three top receivers out of the game, timing had to be a problem. Still, Jimbo Fisher is committed to Ponder, thanks to his mobility and threat to tuck and run for a first down. And as no. 5 in the ACC in individual Total Offense, he must be doing something right.

But watch out for jersey no. 10. Ponder's backup is an athletic water bug of a QB named D'Vontrey Richardson. Not that there's a QB controversy here, because D'Vo has played very sparingly. But FSU fans love to see him enter the game, because they know something exciting will probably happen. Richardson can burn teams with his legs, and with his arm. For example, Jimbo set up Georgia Tech by running him three or four times, then faking a run as Richardson zipped a 39-yd. TD to Preston Parker in the end zone.

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