by Jeremy Z. of College Football 2Day
It was the tale of two halves. The Seminoles looked like the team we saw in the first half of the season, and then halftime came around. Where did they go? Were they replaced at halftime? Did they get too comfortable with their lead? I can’t blame this one on play-calling. Their focus simply vanished. Oh well, a win is a win. This time it was for the ACC Title. Congrats to the Noles on taking back the ACC.
Offensive line: B+
They played pretty solid for most of the game. There were a few miscues, but nothing that really hurt the team. They let EJ get sacked a few times, but I blame more of that on EJ. The running backs had some lanes to run through, and they didn’t struggle in the red zone when it came to running the ball. Not a bad day for the young offensive line.
Running backs: A
Great night running the ball for Freeman and Wilder. There may have been some yards left out there, but they made the most of their chances. Wilder had two rushing TD’s and Freeman had the only other TD of the game. Freeman averaged 4.5 yards a carry, while Wilder averaged 6.9 yards a carry. I felt like these two stayed focused from start to finish. Anybody else love how we ran the option against an option based team? It was like they had never seen the option.
EJ Manuel struggled in this game…..more than his numbers really showed. Sure he completed 76% of his passes, but he had 0 TD passes against a very poor defense. He took a few sacks that could have been avoided (one which turned into a fumble). He forced a couple passes. I can’t blame him for the interception; he threw it into one-on-one coverage. Where EJ did excel was in his scrambling. He rushed for 49 yards and most of them didn’t come on designed runs. This is the EJ I have wanted to see most of the season. I have talked with a few fans and they see it the same way. Anyone else wonder why EJ gets yelled at on the sideline after he makes a big run on what was supposed to be a pass play? His passing game wasn’t there on Saturday night, but he wanted to make up for that with his running ability. I truly feel like Fisher has a leash on him and just won’t turn him loose. Not sure why that is, but I hope EJ takes off a bit more in the Orange Bowl.
Wide Receivers: B-
Not a great night for the receivers (Mainly because most of them were quiet in this game) I read where a lot of fans were unhappy with the fact that the Noles didn’t throw the deep ball much in this game, but I have to say go back and watch the game again. Georgia Tech’s safeties were twenty yards off the ball before the snap. They might as well have been playing prevent almost the entire game. So the Noles did some damage underneath. Rashad Greene caught 9 passes for 82 yards. He led the team with receiving yards and passes caught. It’s safe to say Greene saved the grade for this group. Kelvin Benjamin had a catch and then fumbled. Not much else to brag on for this group. They should have a big game against Northern Illinois though.
Defensive grades after the jump
Wow, what a game for this unit. When the game kicked off, all I could think about was the last time these two met at Doak Campbell Stadium. There was no stopping the option in 2009. But this is 2012 and the Noles defensive line came to play. Yes, there were a few times that the Yellow Jackets gashed them, but the Noles stayed focused and kept them contained for much of the game. They played nearly perfect assignment football.
By far, this was their best game this season. This group chased down the option all night long. What made it interesting early was that Nick Moody went down with a concussion. Out with Moody and in with Karlos Williams. He played great, oh and it was his first time playing linebacker all season. When the game was on the line and all we could think about on that final drive was crossing routes, Williams stepped up and got his first interception as a Seminole. Vince Williams had a solid game as well.
Okay, anybody else see that the Noles’ secondary is missing something? Don’t get me wrong, they played pretty solid, but there is something missing about 15-20% of the time. Georgia Tech doesn’t pass much so I understand the occasional miscue, but in obvious passing situations guys were open. Maybe I am being too picky…..I’ll leave it alone. Everything else they covered pretty well. They helped contain the option when it looked like it would reach their level. They even stayed at home on a trick play and forced an interception.
Special Teams: A
No fumbles on special teams! Dustin Hopkins didn’t get to kick any field goals in this one, but he got the job done on extra points. Other than a kick off that bounced out of bounds, the special teams did their job. Punt returns were solid. Kick offs and kick returns were good.
Overall Team Performance: B-
Okay, so each unit played pretty well, but the team as a whole was missing something in the second half. I want to see that killer instinct that we saw early in the season. This team could have put the game away with just a field goal in the second half and they couldn’t do it for some reason. Was it focus? Maybe. Execution? No, I think that was there most of the night. Play-calling? As much of a problem this has been in the past, I don’t think that was it either. Yeah, I think we can blame the second half on focus. The Noles just got too comfortable and lost their focus. They had better be focused for the Orange Bowl; I don’t want to be grading a team that loses to Northern Illinois.