At the tail end of FSU’s loss to Boston College on Saturday night, Brent Musberger suggested to a TV audience that the Seminoles should burn their black jerseys.
He may be right.
The special black uniforms designed by Nike and that FSU says are a tribute to the unconquered Seminole Tribe couldn’t disguise the miserable performance in this crucial game. With the loss the Seminoles probably took themselves out of the running for the ACC Championship, although the team still has an outside chance if other teams ahead of them lose in the next two weeks.
It wasn’t surprising that FSU’s offense struggled against BC’s defense – which shut out Notre Dame the previous week – especially since FSU suspended five receivers a day before the game. But what’s been puzzling is that FSU’s defense has really struggled during the second half of the season, especially in losses to Georgia Tech and BC.
FSU’s reliance on blitzes and man-on-man coverage just couldn’t get the job done against BC as the Eagles big offensive line was able to outplay FSU defenders. Plus, the poor tackling enabled Eagles running back Montel Harris to have a monster game. Time after time Harris bounced, bulldozed and bruised his way down the field. Two weeks previously the Yellow Jackets use of the option attack constantly seemed to befuddle FSU defenders and contributed just as much to that loss as the fumble by Marcus Sims in the waning seconds.
This sudden breakdown by the defense doesn’t bode well for the most important game on the FSU schedule: The Nov. 28 showdown with Florida at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Earlier this season I thought if any team was capable of matching up against the Gators it was the Seminoles. They are familiar with Urban Meyer’s spread offense and they have enough speed to counter some of the tremendous players on that team. During the first half of the season, it was the FSU defense that kept the Seminoles in several of the game, even the loss to Wake Forest.
If FSU can’t play man-to-man defense with the Boston College Eagles, what you do think the likes of Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow will do to them? The South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday actually entered their game with the Gators as the third-ranked defense in the nation. The Gators absolutely shredded them, just like they have done to every other team since that 1-point loss to the Ole Miss Rebels earlier this season. Harvin rushed 8 times for 167 yards (a 20.9 yard average!) and The Gators handed Steve Spurrier his worst loss ever at the Swamp.
UF has now won six straight conference games by 28 or more points. Does anyone right now have any confidence the Gators won’t do that to FSU?
Another plus for UF: The Gators match up next week against The Citadel at home, while FSU has to travel to Maryland. That means the Seminoles will have just one week to prepare for their arch-rivals. If I were FSU head coach Bobby Bowden, I would be half-tempted to write off the long-shot ACC Championship and order offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to come up with a vanilla game plan for the Terrapins. Bowden has to know that Meyer will probably won’t even play his starters for more than a half next week.
FSU should instead focus on what it’s going to take to avoid losing by 30 points or more to UF. Because whether the Seminoles wear black, or wear garnet and gold uniforms, they won’t be able to cloak what’s up on the scoreboard if the defense doesn’t improve.