November 20, 2011

Position grades for the loss to UVA

Offensive Grades

Passing Game

200 yards passing, one touchdown, and no interceptions.

These numbers are similar to a few stat lines Florida State EJ Manuel has put up during a five-game win steak. The difference on Saturday in a 14-13 loss to Virginia was that Manuel completed just 18 of 31 pass attempts.

UVA did a good job putting pressure on Manuel as he was sacked three times and fumbled once. He never seemed to be in any sort of a rhythm and missed open receivers down the field a number of times.

It wasn't all bad, Manuel did connect with tight end Ja'Baris Little for a 1-yard touchdown and had a few big completions. He and Bert Reed hooked up a 68-yard completion, a career-high for Reed.

Manuel also had another big completion to Christian Green wiped out by a holding call.

Overall passing game grade: C-

It was not Manuel's best day throwing the ball by any means as he completed a little more than 58 percent of his passes. FSU averaged just 6.5 yards per play when they dropped back to pass. Two holding calls, three sacks, and three hurries made it hard for Manuel to get into a groove, but he did miss open receivers as well.

Top Performer: Bert Reed

Reed led the team with four catches for 104 yards. He had two big catches on the Seminoles' lone touchdown drive and should have set up another TD after he was tackled at the 1-yard line after a gain of 68.

Running Game

A solid day rushing the ball for FSU was overshadowed once again by its short-yardage struggles. FSU ran for 186 yards on the ground, but four times when FSU needed two yards or less for a first down or touchdown they failed to convert.

Twice they failed to punch it in from the UVA 1-yard line, and picked up just one first down all day in five attempts when needed just two yards or less.

Outside of the short-yardage struggles FSU was able to move the ball some on the ground, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Senior Jermaine Thomas led the way with 69 yards on 4 carries. True freshman Devonta Freeman added 44 yards on six carries.

On a reverse Rashad Greene picked a season-high 53 yards on the ground early in the game.

Overall running game grade: C+

As much as the running game has struggled this year, 186 yards on 33 carries is a pretty solid day on the ground for FSU. But the offensive lines' inability to get anything that even resembles a push on short-yardage situations is more damming than the yards gained on the ground.

Top performer: Jermaine Thomas

Playing in his final home game in Doak Campbell Stadium, Thomas had a solid day as he rushed for 69 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Thomas got things going for the offense on its lone touchdown drive as he broke free up the middle for a gain of 27 yards to move the ball deep into UVA territory. He then picked up another 11 yards two plays later on the drive.

Defensive Grades

Front Seven

For 58 minutes the FSU defense did great job keeping the Cavaliers' offense in check. UVA rushed for just 78 yards in the game. But on the game-winning drive they were able to run right up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to take the lead with ease.

Brandon Jenkins did a good job putting pressure on UVA quarterback Michael Rocco, recording 2.5 sacks. Cornellius Carradine was credited with 0.5 a sack as well. Rocco was also hurried three times by the front four, but was able to hurt the defense on long scrambles as well.

Twice he escaped the pocket to pick up the first down on rush of at least 12 yards or more.

Nigel Bradham had another great game as he recorded a team-high 13 tackles, seven solo, and 1.5 for loss. He was beat a few times by the UVA running backs out of the backfield, including a 7-yard touchdown, but the safety was late getting over to help.

Overall front seven grade: B+

Where it not for a disappearing act by the pressure up front on the final UVA drive it would have been another great performance for the FSU front seven. Still despite the final drive it was a solid day for the defense. UVA came into the game averaging more than 187 yards rushing per game, and Saturday night they were held to just 78 yards total, and an average of 2.7 yards per carry.

Top performer: Brandon Jenkins

Jenkins provided plenty of pressure up front with his 2.5 sacks. He had six tackles total in the game, four of which were solo. On one of his sacks Jenkins was held but it didn't matter as he got to Rocco anyway.


Like the front seven the secondary did a pretty solid job against UVA until the final drive. Before that dive FSU had given up just 173 yards passing in the game, but on the game-clinching drive the defense allowed four completion for 65 yards, including a 34-yard pass right over the middle to a wide-open receiver.

Rocco finished the game 22 of 31 for 238 yards and a touchdown. His main target was running back Petty Jones out of the backfield, they connected nine times for 62 yards.

Receivers Kris Burd (six catches for 80 yards) and Tim Smith (three catches for 60 yards) also had big games.

Greg Reid had a solid game with four solo tackles, including a big hit on Darius Jennings.

Xavier Rhodes and Mike Harris had quiet days but were solid in coverage.

Terrance Parks recorded four tackles and a pass breakup but seemed to be late coming over the top on a number of plays including Jones's touchdown catch.

Overall secondary grade: C+

FSU allowed two big completions of 34 and 31 yards that really hurt them on both Cavalier scoring drives. Rocco was able to complete a 70.9 percent of his pass attempts and only had three passes broken up all game.

Top performer: Greg Reid

No one really stepped up and made any plays for the FSU secondary, but Reid did have four solo tackles. His hit on Jennings was a big play because it stopped him just short of the first down as UVA was in FSU territory.

Special Teams Grades

It was a rough day for the FSU special teams unit. Not only did Dustin Hopkins miss a 42-yard field goal that would have won the game in the final seconds, but three times FSU was penalized for illegal blocks on punt returns.

Reid averaged eight yards per punt return as UVA employed a rugby style punt to neutralize him throughout the game.

Hopkins was two of three on the day as he connected from 26 and 21 yards before missing from 42. He also added two touchbacks on kickoffs.

The final field goal attempt was set up by a nice kickoff return by Lamarcus Joyner who picked up 32 yards.

Shawn Powell was stellar again, averaging 50.3 yards per punt and twice pinning UVA inside its own 20-yard line.

Overall Special Teams grade: C-

Obviously the missed field goal at the end of the game hurt, but FSU made plenty of mistakes before that. Three separate penalties on punt returns is just not acceptable. Kickoff coverage was superb as it has been all year, as UVA averaged just 17.5 yards per return.

Top performer: Shawn Powell

Powell continues to be a big time weapon for FSU. On Saturday night he averaged 42.2 net yards per punt, had four punts of at least 50 yards and another was caught right at the goal line.

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