Football isn’t as complicated as those of us who cover it would have you think. To have a consistently good team, you must limit turnovers, control the line of scrimmage, dominate the clock and run the ball well.
Those are simple things that will help you win a lot of games.
FSU wasn’t the best at three of those things because Jimbo Fisher’s offense was quarterback-dependent and neglected the rushing attack for large portions of games.
Willie Taggart’s “lethal simplicity,” based on what is being said by the new staff, goes with what is working, similar to an Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney frame of thought. No need to throw it if you have a ground game.
FSU’s deepest position group, and the one I think Taggart will lean on the most, is running back. People hear “spread offense” and immediately think about a lot of passes. But Taggart has shown the ability to have a power spread concept. He developed his concepts while working under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.
The goal of new offensive line coach Greg Frey’s system is to create holes and gaps by having good-sized splits and creating one-on-one matchups even along the line. We used to call it a “big on big” scheme, which is different from the traditional zone concept. The good thing about running “big on big” with FSU’s running backs is that if someone gives space, it creates an opportunity for the back to make a play. Say the guard gets blown up into the backfield; well, the running back can step to the side, and now instead of a blown play there’s a hole.
I believe you will see two-back sets frequently. FSU has talented backs with common components yet different skills. Each is adept at doing the main thing he was recruited for – produce yards on the ground.
My position coach was Billy Sexton, and he taught me that you can’t really teach someone how to run; you must recruit that. You either can or you cannot, but you also must have two other things to be successful at the college level – especially in this offense – and that is block and run routes/catch. In a way, because of the size and length of FSU’s running backs, it’s as if the Seminoles have slot receivers with vision. All the running backs are at least 5 feet 11 with great speed, and Jacques Patrick is the size of some tight ends. I believe the old fullback position will be absorbed by the tight ends, with the fullbacks on the roster having H-Back size.
Defenses use personnel groupings based on what the offense has on the field. Typically, defenses are called based on the number of tight ends and running backs on the field. (The running backs are the first number and the tight end is the second number.) You potentially could catch a defense off-guard by having a Cam Akers/Khalan Laborn combo with Patrick set on the field, all while running your entire offense. So what looks like “21” or “20” (two backs, two wide receivers and a tight end or a two-back, three-wide receiver look) personnel really has “10” (single back with four wide receivers) personnel capabilities, so you’ve effectively disguised and have created mismatches.
The obvious top two contenders for playing time are Akers and Patrick. Akers has set a lofty goal of 2,000 yards, but I think the backfield as a whole will have between 2,200 and 2,500 yards. The split will look more like that of the 2013 national championship team, with one back over 1,000, one over 700 and another over 500. I think it’ll be Akers, Patrick and Laborn leading the way.
I expect the running backs to be utilized more effectively in the passing game, especially early on in the season, to help get easy completions and take advantage of athletes in space. All three backs are good receivers, with Patrick coming off a season in which he had 21 receptions for 171 yards.
The running game was the strength on a team that wasn’t very dominant last season. I still believe Fisher should’ve relied more on a ground game that averaged five yards a carry even during times when it seemed less effective. The key to being able to control game situations is clock management, and when quarterbacks need to gain confidence, nothing is better at aiding in clock management as well as helping them see the defense better than a consistent running game.
Article Originally Appeared On Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/florida-state-rushing-attack-dominant/