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Florida State Film Review: Fourth Quarter

The fourth quarter was much more than just one bad play call.

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For the past week we’ve all talked about and heard about the bad play call that swung this game, but the focus should probably be on the defensive performance in the fourth quarter.


Louisville’s defense started off the fourth quarter fairly well with this stop on third down. The play design was outstanding by FSU with Tre McKitty lined up at tight end and slipping through the line on a tunnel screen type of play. He gets lost a bit but Dee Smith shows great awareness to pick him up after the catch and this is also a really good open field tackle on a bigger player.


I made this clip a little longer because the commentators were talking about Djemi Dumervil-Jean and he ended up being the focus on this play. In my opinion, Dumervil isn’t the type of player you want coming into your program and playing right away. A year to redshirt and work on his body and conditioning would have been a big help. But, they didn’t recruit any nose tackles so he’s the guy they’re relying on.

Dumervil doesn’t know how to use his size to his advantage yet because he doesn’t play low enough. He stands up and that makes him much easier to block. It also makes it really simple to double team him. That’s what happens here as he gets turned out of the hole and then gets washed out by the second offensive lineman. That opens a hole for Cam Akers and he does just enough to win a battle with Dee Smith.


As I watched this game again it’s starting to become obvious that the defense didn’t get their fair share of the blame for how it ended. UofL gives up another fourth down here because P.J. Mbanasor allows the receiver to cross his face in man coverage. What’s really frustrating to me is that Tamorrian Terry’s split is so wide that there is little chance that he’s doing anything but running a slant here. If he’s lined up this wide to run a go route, he’s liable to run out of bounds, get rode out of bounds by Mbanasor, or make the throw so tough that it misses.

This was the second straight fourth down conversion and both were way too easy for FSU.


On the very next play, FSU scores to close the gap to a field goal. Sometimes the other team just makes a play and that’s exactly what happens here. This is a perfect throw and a perfect route. P.J. Blue defends it perfectly. But, it’s just put in the exact spot that it needed to be and McKitty makes a play.

The real issue, of course, is that the defense should have been off the field. They shouldn’t have put themselves in this spot.


UofL spent the entire game setting this play up and sometimes when you rely on a true freshman, they let you down. This is the same run action that they had been using on the sweeps all game. The blocking is different, but it’s a perfect call on first down.

This is almost certainly a touchdown for Hall if he makes the catch, but it’s possible DeCalon Brooks (#28) makes the tackle. Jawon Pass throws the wrong ball again here, as he should put air on this and let Hall run under it. The play still has to be made.


No one really ended up doing well here on the offensive line, but this play is blown up because Kenny Thomas doesn’t get to his man quick enough. It’s a tough block with Corey Durden (#16) essentially being lined up over the center, but Thomas knows that before the snap and he takes a poor angle. He should come down the line more sharply and that would at least help him get his head across and he can maybe ride him out of the play. He doesn’t do that and Hall has to change his path directly into Brian Burns (#99) outside.

Thomas only compounds things on this play because he ends up holding Durden. I’ve been hoping to see Thomas back out there and they’re doing an odd rotation with him and Linwood Foy rotating every quarter. But, this play was a rough one for him that put the offense in a hole.


You can easily see on this play how FSU adjusted their defense to stop those wide open throws UofL got in the third quarter. Earlier they were showing blitz like they are here but now they have Jayden Woodbey (#20) lining up over the slot receiver and bailing into a deep middle zone.

This allows them to still run the cover 2 type of defense they were running but with a guy taking away those slot post routes UofL had open. You can also see that the nickel defender that is showing blitz does a much better job of turning and running to that middle zone. That creates an over/under throw for Pass and that nickel defender is there to make the play. This is just good coaching from Harlan Barnett.


I don’t have a clue why Willie Taggart decided to get so cute once he got the score down to three by just committing to throwing the ball, but he got super cute on this play right after calling a wide receiver pass on the play before.

UofL dodges a bullet here because, unlike the previous play, no one covers the wide receiver that would be targeted on this play. Anthony Johnson comes on a corner blitz on the bottom of the screen and Dee Smith bites on the reverse. That leaves the receiver wide open. Johnson’s blitz blows up the play and the escape on this one.


Mbanasor got beat earlier in the fourth quarter but this is absolutely outstanding coverage. Terry is 6-4 and he has to go up and get this. Mbanasor closes the space and plays through the receivers hands to make sure that he can’t secure the catch. You couldn’t ask for better coverage here against a much bigger receiver.

Mbanasor then makes another pass break up on the next play to get the defense off the field. As poorly as the defense played in the second half, these two plays were a huge factor in the offense having a chance to put the game away.


Louisville started “the drive” with a really nice pickup on first down. FSU runs themselves out of the play with a run blitz to the weak side. Nate Scheler and Cole Bentley get a solid double team in the middle and Kenny Thomas just lets his man run past the play. Trey Smith has made the first man miss or gained yardage past the first man a lot so far this year. It’s a good skill to have, obviously.


Louisville probably shouldn’t have been throwing the ball so much in the second half (They ended up throwing the ball more than they ran it) and this play kind of shows why. Lukayus McNeil barely gets a hand on Brian Burns here and they end up just getting lucky that Pass’ first read is to the right and not the left. There’s a good chance that Burns strips Pass here if he looks the other way.

McNeil has to do much better, obviously, but this illustrates the risk they were taking by not running the ball more.


These are UofL’s last two running plays. I’ll just leave them here.


I’ve already gotten into how bad of a call this was but I really don’t think that Jaylen Smith (The guy the ball was supposed to go to) is as open as he seems. He’s “open” but I don’t think he’s “open” with Jawon Pass throwing the football. What I mean by that is Pass has been late multiple times on hitches, comebacks, and out routes. I think it only gets worse as the pressure mounts. So, on this play, the ball would have come out late just as it does when he throws to Crum, and Kyle Meyers would have had a chance to make the same play A.J. Westbrook ends up making.

But, you can just scroll back up to see what they should have done.


When I watched this play I tweeted out that I didn’t mind them blitzing but they had to get home. That doesn’t even come close to happening here and Deondre Francois has an easy throw. I would have loved to see the call here be a dummy blitz where the linebackers drop back after faking a blitz. They also called a blitz earlier where the outside rusher fakes up field and drops into the middle of the field, while a linebacker in the middle loops around into that vacated area. It forced Francois out of the pocket earlier and Mbanasor got his second PBU.

Instead, they run both linebackers into the same gap for some reason. Dorian Etheridge can’t even find his way through all of the bodies, and it’s just all too easy for FSU in this spot.


I probably could have saved myself some time and typing by looking a couple of plays ahead. This is the defense I would have loved to see for this entire drive. It’s a basic cover 2 under that takes away the short stuff over the middle while defending the deep throws. You can see that Etheridge is just watching the quarterbacks eyes and he’s there to take away the slant route that they ended up throwing to three times. This zone coverage is the only time they stopped it.

Dorian has to make this play, by the way. I’ll repeat myself again. This defense needs play makers.


If you didn’t see this play coming when Pass threw that pick, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Louisville’s defense should not give up a touchdown in the situation they were handed, but they played a poor second half and teams that don’t rush the passer well are more liable to give up a touchdown in this situation. They don’t typically give them up like this, though.

VanGorder decided to blitz P.J. Blue here and he actually goes untouched. But, Dee Smith has to give Nyquan Murray space and the veteran quarterback and receiver identify it and make the play. Murray deserves credit for shaking off Smith as well as making Khane Pass miss. However, Pass absolutely has to break down and at least attempt to make the sure tackle. Instead, he flies up the field trying to catch Murray before he gets going again. It doesn’t work and he’s gone with no other safety deep.