September 15, 2012

Insider Report: Defense by the numbers









Opening conference play, Florida State's defense was set to face a couple of talented Demon Deacons. The Seminoles answered each challenge in short order.


Wake's top offensive figures




Atop the list of Wake Forest's offensive weapons was receiver Michael Campanaro. Campanaro, a junior slot target, entered the game with 22 catches and averaging a conference best 130.0 receiving yards per game.


Campanaro finished the afternoon with two catches for eight yards.


Quarterback Tanner Price, a mobile lefty, was the key to a comeback victory over North Carolina in week two. The junior completed over 65-percent of his passes to start the season, good for a total of 522 yards.


Price ended up 8-for-22 for 82 yards and was sacked three times.


Stuffing the run, attacking the backfield


After an early error of over-pursuit, one that cost FSU 34 yards on the ground, the Seminoles went on to allow just nine more rushing yards for the entire game. As an offense, Wake Forest did not enter the red-zone once.


Additionally, FSU's defensive line made its way into the Wake Forest backfield against both run and pass. Ends Cornelius Carradine and Bjoern Werner each racked up 2.5 tackles for loss, with Carradine winning the sack total 2.5 to 1.5. Interior lineman Timmy Jernigan amassed a career-high six tackles.


"It felt great," Carradine said of his career-best performance. "I knew it was going to be kind of tough but I came out ready to play."


In all, FSU amassed 11.0 tackles for loss, putting its season total at 26.5. After allowing 126 offensive yards to Wake Forest, the Seminoles potentially could enter the Clemson game as the nation's top defense in yards per game (103.3 yds/gm).






Amidst production, passing game spotty


In a game that finishes 52-0 and features 612 yards of total offense, one would expect the starting quarterback to be the shining star of the day. However, Seminole starter EJ Manuel took a back seat to 385 rushing yards, including two home-runs from Saturday's star: senior Chris Thompson.




The passing game featured some good moments, with Manuel tossing for a pair of scores on broken plays. But on balance, head coach Jimbo Fisher said that despite being ahead of last year's pace, there was much left to be desired through the air.



"I got it on the quarterback, I got it on the protection and I got it on the receivers," Fisher said. "I think all three phases could do a better job."


Manuel agreed with his coach, saying that the passing game will strive "just to be more consistent."


"I think there are some throws that I missed and then some catches that they usually don't miss," he said. "But just as an offense we have to be more detailed."


Manuel was hurried out of the pocket a fair amount in his 15-for-24 afternoon as the young Seminole offensive line faced a 3-4 defense for the first time this season. He was also sacked three times, including a lost fumble. On the ground, Manuel rushed for 48 yards and the team's first touchdown to cap a scoring drive which featured speed option looks reminiscent of his appearances in the 2010 season.


With a stout running game and Thompson's two big plays, Manuel did not need to be the primary offensive weapon against Wake. And outside of making a few tweaks in practice this week, that suits him just fine.


"Just the fact that we can have the running game carries us as an offense," he said. "Once we get the passing game clicking, then we will be dangerous to any team. I don't think teams will know what to prepare for during the week. Granted I want to have a better game passing, but I know it is going to come."


Fisher 'proud' of O-line progress


Florida State's offensive line faced its first real test of the season against Wake Forest's defense on Saturday. The offense's 612 total yards stand as a testament to the front five stepping up to the challenge.



"I was very proud of them," coach Jimbo Fisher said.




Daniel Glauser started at right tackle over Menelik Watson, a move Fisher said he made because Glauser practiced this week more than Watson, who had tweaked an ankle. Fisher said that practice made Glauser more prepared to deal with the nuanced 3-4 Wake Forest defensive scheme. Watson came in at right tackle later in the game when backup QB Clint Trickett was in. Fisher was happy with how Glauser performed.



"We thought Daniel had a good week and we had Menelik ready to go, but I thought (Daniel) played very well," Fisher said. "(When you can) sustain an injury (like that), that's what a program does."



The running backs racked up 385 rushing yards, which marked the first time the group has run for more than 300 yards since facing Brigham Young University in 2010. Chris Thompson led the ground attack and finished the game with 201 rushing yards.



"We did a great job running the ball," EJ Manuel said. "Especially Chris, but the O-Line had some great blocking for him. They did a great job blocking."



While the offensive line clicked on all cylinders in protecting the rush, they faltered some in pass blocking. Manuel was sacked three times and was forced to scramble to keep plays alive.



"We had a couple missed protections that scared me, let some guys loose and just missed communication on some protections," Fisher said. "But (Wake Forest's 3-4) defense, the way you have to do some things (for that), cost us that a little bit and it hurt us and we missed a couple throws," Fisher said.




Fisher thinks the group will continue to improve and was happy with how they dealt with Saturday's challenge.



"We're head and shoulders above where we were," Fisher said. "Are we where we want to be? No, we're not close, but we're making a lot of progress."


Notables


  • Chris Thompson's 197 first half rushing yards were the second most in one half in FSU history. Only Greg Allen's 238 second-half yards against Western Carolina in 1981 topped Saturday's performance.


  • The last time Wake Forest was shut out came September 25, 2010, when Florida State won 31-0 at Doak Campbell Stadium.


  • Rashad Greene's 60-yard punt return for touchdown was his second of the season, marking the first time a Seminole returner has returned multiple punts for scores since Willie Reid did so in 2005. The single-season record is three, held by Reid (2005) and Joe Wessel (1984).


  • FSU's 50-plus point output Saturday makes the 2012 Seminoles the first team in program history to start the year with three games scoring 50 or more points. The Seminoles are just the third ACC team to score 50 or more points in three straight games (Virginia 1990, 1992) and the first to open the season with the feat.







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