The first quarter of the season is done for FSU and the Willie Taggart era hasn’t begun the way most fans, or experts, expected. I still believe Taggart is the right person for the job and the team’s problems can be corrected, but we must judge the team based upon the performances so far this season.
I had expectations and will still hold this team to those expectations even though it has grossly underperformed.
Offensive Grade: F
Currently, FSU ranks dead last, 130 out of 130 teams in the FBS, in offense averaging five points a game against FBS competition. The offense looks remedial in terms of execution and has taken multiple steps backwards.
Penalties, not being able to line up properly, delay of games, and not being able to execute simple pitch-and-catch type plays plague this offense.
Fans were promised a simplified and lethal approach to offense that would put up numbers and have seen nothing close to the sort. At times, FSU looks like you’d expect the offense opposite of them to look and not like a team that had some of the most-sought after talent in the nation in uniform.
Offensive Line: Ungradeable
There hasn’t been one game that the offensive line has looked dominant. Even the one thing they did good as a unit last season, run block, has gone terribly wrong so far this season.
They look weak, slow to attack, and lost in every aspect of the offense. The few times when they look good, a penalty brings them back. There are times when they look like lambs being put out for the slaughter – not something you’d expect from a Power 5 FBS school.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: D
You can see flashes of where this offense could be explosive, but you can also see remnants of Jimbo Fisher era coaching. FSU lack the dog that you see from other programs. There’s an unwillingness to block which has reared its head over and over again. For every big catch, there’s a drop, or worse, not understanding who is on or off the line of scrimmage.
The TE can be really big in this offense if it can figure out how to make him not ineligible by lining up incorrectly.
Running Back: D
Every running back looks the same behind a bad offensive line, another football cliche.
What was considered the strength of the offense has looked relatively week in the first quarter of the season. They haven’t been able to find a rhythm and a lot of that has to do with the east-to-west running style of the Gulf Coast Offense.
This again has to do with a lack of execution from the line, the quarterback, as well as the backs. There are missed opportunities, but mostly an underutilization as well as not being able to do anything leads to this grade.
The entire Gulf Coast Offense accelerates or decelerates based upon this position. Quite frankly, it’s stalled because of this position.
The offensive line hasn’t been up to par, this isn’t a new problem to FSU, there have also been opportunities that have not been capitalized on. When Deondre Francois has had time, he has simply not consistently taken advantage of what’s available. You can slow up a defense by making them pay when you have the opportunities. Over and underthrown balls, lack of pulling the ball and running on zone reads when the end crashes, and not knowing where to go with the ball all fall back this position.
The bonus of Francois at QB was the effectiveness of his legs as a threat, but he doesn’t use them.
You can also see he is anticipating hits coming, understandable, although this isn’t a game for the faint of heart. You’ve got to stand in the pocket, a job easier said from the comfort of my living room, but also something I understand having been a collision expert during my time.
Defensive Grade: C
The defense is about the only bright spot on the team. Harlon Barnett has his guys coached up for the most part. Still, they have been plagued with similar inconsistencies like the offense. The grade is higher because the scores should’ve been worse without them.
The first two games they have been completely out-worked in the first half although Barnett’s adjustments have been good. I attribute the Syracuse meltdown in the second half to being on the field over 60% of the game as well as playing a majority of the snaps the first quarter of the season.
Defensive Line: C+
Honestly, I thought that this unit would be an “A” before the season started. With Brian Burns, Demarcus Christmas and Honey Fried Marvin Wilson, many felt that this was going to be one of the best units in the ACC by the time it was all said and done. They’ve had times where they have created push, but in comparison to what you see the opposing teams’ defensive lines look like, you wonder who has the most NFL-draft caliber players.
Burns battled cramps and provided pressure against Syracuse, but based on the talent that this team has faced the first three games of the season, you’d expect this unit to have more than six sacks with zero coming against FCS Samford.
Undisciplined play, lack of a tone setter, and being lost in coverage are what I see when it comes to this unit.
Bobby Bowden used to have a saying, “Step on toes and provide a violent six inch punch upon contact,” something that we have yet to see.
I see a lot of ducking the head and arm tackling when they meet in the backfield that running backs are able to run through. Many thought this was the weakest unit on the team and they aren’t proving anybody wrong.
Lots of blown coverages and lack of alignment to start games. Mismatches occur too often with smaller corners being left on an island that teams have been able to exploit.
Teams went right after Levonta Taylor this season. A lack of pressure on the QB makes their job tougher.
Special Teams: F-
There is absolutely nothing special about this special teams unit.
No pressure on punt block and no blocking on return. No blocking on kickoff return. Missed field goals. No blocking on punt with numerous blocked punts and more that should have been.
Special teams looks awful. No more analysis needed for this.
At this point, the only thing FSU can do is take the remainder of the season one game at a time and hope that Quarter Two grades come out higher. However, the games are becoming tougher as the team moves deeper into ACC play.
The problems are fixable, but it comes down to does this 2018 ball club in its entirety want to fix these problems?
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/grading-the-first-quarter-of-florida-states-2018-season