by Jeremy Z. of College Football 2Day
It wasn’t as pretty as the stats looked; at least for the Noles’ offense, anyway. Florida State’s defense, however, dominated from start to finish. I won’t take anything away from this team as a whole, though…..The Noles’ finally got back to a BCS Bowl and got the win. Let’s see how each position scored in the Seminoles’ final game.
Offensive line: A-
As I watched the game, I felt like I was going to be able to give the O-line an A+. But they just didn’t seem to run block very well at all. Sure the Noles finished with over 200 yards rushing but nearly half of those yards came on two carries by Lonnie Pryor. I was disappointed in the run blocking mainly because of the fact it was Northern Illinois, and FSU should have been able to blow them off the ball. The pass blocking, however, was the best it has been all season (Then again, wasn’t that expected against an inferior opponent?)
Running backs: B+
Freeman struggled running the ball. He had 14 carries for only 30 yards. Wilder fared better, carrying it 11 times for 52 yards. It should be noted that Freeman did catch the ball well, catching 3 passes for 43 yards. The highlight for the backs clearly was Lonnie Pryor. It almost begs the question, ‘what if Pryor played more running back during his career at FSU?’ Great night for Pryor and he was well deserving of MVP in this game.
Well, it wasn’t perfect. EJ’s stats may look great but he missed some important passes. The nice part about the game was that he was never really under much pressure. The offensive line gave him all day to make plays with his arm but he still struggled, in my opinion, to hit some wide open targets. Outside of a few miscues he played pretty well and went out on a high note. Congrats to EJ Manuel on his 4th bowl victory. Good Luck EJ and thanks for a 12 win season.
Wide Receivers: A-
There were those annoying drops throughout this game. Kelvin Benjamin knows what he has to work on during the off season. Rodney Smith played pretty well in his final game as a Nole. Smith caught a pass in 39 consecutive games, including the Orange Bowl. Rashad Greene had the catch of the game. Ej Manuel scrambled to his right and found Greene in the back corner (much like he did against South Carolina a couple years when he found Easterling in the back of the endzone).
Defensive grades after the jump.
Perfection! There might have been six or seven plays where Jordan Lynch wasn’t under pressure, but the fun part about those plays is that he was seeing ghosts on those plays. Lynch never was able to get comfortable. NIU’s offensive line was outmatched and it showed in a big way. This was a great way for the Noles’ D-line to reflect just how strong a job Mark Stoops has done with the defensive unit, and they didn’t disappoint.
I thought we saw the best performance by this group against Georgia Tech. That was still a great performance, but I think the LBs saved the best for last. They played perfect assignment football the entire game. Vince Williams had a great showing and upped his NFL stock.
A very solid effort in this game. However, I am still a little concerned with the wide open receivers running free 30 yards downfield. Thankfully Lynch missed most of his deep passes. I would have liked to see a couple more interceptions, too. I saw some nice plays by some of the young up and coming Noles. Brooks continues to show signs of greatness. He secured a game changing interception in the second half.
Special Teams: A
No fumbles on punt returns. I think that’s two games in a row now. Hopkins went 1 for 2. Congrats to Hopkins on a great season; and not just a great season, but a record setting season. Good Luck to Dustin Hopkins and congrats on a great career at FSU.
Overall Team Performance: B-
Wait a minute! A B-? Really? Each group may have played well and executed well, but I feel like the defense was the only unit that lived up to the expectation in this game. The offense threw up big numbers in the stat columns but the score didn’t show it. That sticks out big time. I expected way more points. Some people may think that’s a little harsh……but look at the stats. Forget the score for a minute and just look at the stats and compare it to a game where a team scores 40+.
The fact is, FSU was supposed to dominate in this game….on both sides; and I don’t feel like the offense did what they were expected to do against a much lesser opponent. The offense couldn’t finish drives, and they were horrible on 3rd down. Either way, the Noles got the win and put up enough points to please both the haters and the non-haters. Congrats to the Seminoles on their BCS Bowl Victory, but I would have liked to have seen more. Welcome back to the BCS Florida State!