“This would be a good team if the offensive line weren’t so bad!”
FSU’s offensive line has been the biggest punch-line on the team the past few seasons. There are many reasons that’s criticism is justified.
From just watching the games, you see the quarterback seemingly have zero time to throw the ball or being crushed upon release. That’s what it’s looked like since Jameis Winston’s national championship year.
One could easily argue FSU not having an elite offensive line held the team back last season.
I call B.S. on all that.
While I do believe the offensive line play needs improvement, I personally believe the offensive line was a scapegoat of a much larger problem last season. FSU’s o-line wasn’t trash, in fact, it wasn’t that bad at all. It was a position group whose deficiencies were magnified by inconsistency and an offensive philosophy that forced an issue in the passing game.
Most offensive lines are judged on sacks. The way the FSU offensive line is talked about, you’d think they gave up the most sacks of any Power 5 school. You’d think that amongst the Big 3 in the state of Florida, there would be a glaring gap.
Miami gave up 29 sacks in 13 games and UF 37 in 12 with FSU falling in between with 32 in 13 games. FSU’s sacks-allowed number stacks up favorably nationally, as well. Clemson gave up 31, Auburn gave up 36, Notre Dame 30. nobody would say these teams have porous offensive lines.
What I suggest is that FSU’s offensive line isn’t great, but good enough to have had a better season. I’m not putting all six losses on the offensive line. I’ve gone back and watched film and often times the problems with pressure on the quarterback comes from the QB not getting rid of the ball consistently. Consistency creates rhythm and rhythm keeps defenses off track.
FSU passing game seemingly consisted of screens and slow-developing plays a season ago. Screens are considered quick-game, but that’s not necessarily what I mean when getting the ball out of your QB’s hands quickly. Slants, curls, shallow cross series – plays that make defenders unable to load up and tee off on the quarterback.
Drops hurt FSU as well at times. The greatest attribute for a quarterback to possess in Jimbo Fisher’s offense is knowing where to go with the ball. That’s what made Jameis different. He had an uncanny understanding of the offense. It wasn’t his arm strength or athletic ability or the players around him which made Jameis run Jimbo’s offense so well, it was Jameis’ eyes and mind and how he could take Fisher’s offensive vision to the field and execute it.
He saw what Jimbo saw. He threw wide receivers open. He could see where defenders were and anticipate where they were going to be then think one step ahead to put himself and his teammates in a position to take advantage of where those defenders were and weren’t. That’s what made him special – along with an intangible leadership and “it” factor no other Fisher-coached QB had at FSU.
The other reason I disagree with calling this offensive line trash is because trash offensive lines don’t produce in the ground game. Cam Akers exploded last season once he was given the starting job, and hindsight being 20/20, he probably should’ve started the entire season. What he and Patrick were able to produce together was good. A trash offensive line doesn’t allow the yardage rushing they combined for.
I believe if Jimbo would’ve relied on the running game more instead of forcing a true freshman, backup QB to have the offense run through him and rest on his shoulders, you would have seen FSU in a better position in multiple games. But Jimbo’s M.O. is to prove he is the best QB whisperer in the nation. Even with Francois at the helm, you could go back to a few games that might’ve had better outcomes if he relied on the offensive line and running game which featured arguably the best running back in FSU history, Dalvin Cook.
If the line isn’t providing adequate time for developing passing routes, then why put it in the position they aren’t as likely to be successful in? Arrogance.
The difference between Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney and Urban Meyer – hopefully Taggart – is that they will go with what is going to win. If it’s the passing game, great, but if they are averaging 4.5-plus yards-per-carry, they are going to keep at it.
Not only has Taggart shown a propensity to do that with many of his big wins featuring more yards rushing than passing, but the Oregon offense only gave up 25 sacks last season. All that with what many would consider less talent.
So, the argument that FSU’s offensive line is weak is a lazy argument. The line play should be better considering Taggart has a system that will allow it to excel with a position coach who has experience developing offensive line rooms every stop he’s coached at – remember, his team’s average of one sack a game, not 2.5.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/reconsidering-fsus-offensive-line-and-why-its-not-as-bad-as-fans-think/