Many factors contributed to Seminoles' sack party against Virginia
Florida State recorded six sacks Saturday against Virginia to push the Seminoles’ nation-leading total to 25 through five games. Depending on who you talked to afterward, Florida State’s seemingly constant presence in Virginia’s backfield could be attributed to: A) the speed of the Seminoles’ defensive linemen, B) miscommunication by the Cavaliers’ offensive linemen or C) slow decision-making by the Virginia quarterback.
The correct answer, of course, is D) all of the above.
There’s no question Florida State’s defensive linemen are fast. Really fast, actually. Heck, their reserves were getting double-team attention at times on Saturday. In addition to all their sacks, the Seminoles also tallied 10 tackles for a loss.
“Tremendous effort by their defensive ends to speed rush and get on the edge,” Coach Mike London said. “We have to look at how we're going to protect the quarterback and how we're going to do things in order for him to get the ball down the field. When you've got good rushers and fast skill guys back there that are covering, that makes for a pretty good game plan defensively.”
A fair number of Florida State’s pressures were due to quarterback Marc Verica holding onto the ball too long. Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor’s pro-style offense is based on timing.
“We don't want him back there holding the football,” Lazor said. “And if they covered us up, sometimes that will happen. If he isn't going to the right spot, that will happen. But if he's back there holding the ball, then you know I'm not happy. And that's the quarterback's part in protecting himself is getting the ball off on time.”
Verica – who completed 14 of 30 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions – acknowledged that he has to play at a quicker tempo. He did so during the third quarter and he completed 7 of 8 passes for 160 yards.
That one incompletion, though, actually wasn’t an incomplete pass. Verica threw an interception in the end zone on a ball he later said he never should have thrown.
“I have to be more decisive, because the line is not going to be able to hold up forever, especially against a four-down group as quick and as talented as Florida State’s,” Verica said.
Verica acknowledged that after a quarterback is flooded out of the pocket a few times, his internal clock starts to tick a little faster when he drops back to pass. It shouldn’t, he noted, but it often does anyway.
“I thought Marc did some okay things,” London said. “He ran the team. He had the interceptions there. It's a whole different ballgame sometimes when you've got pressure in your face and you're scrambling back there. But he's got to make good decisions, the receivers have got to run better routes and obviously and definitely we've got to protect better and longer if we're going to drop back and throw the ball down the field.”
Offensive guard B.J. Cabbell said there was a lot of miscommunication along the offensive line after the snap Saturday, especially during the first half. Virginia would run a play with the intention of executing a particular scheme, Cabbell said, but then that scheme would break down. The Seminoles adapted to what they saw, while the Cavaliers continued to look for something that wasn’t there, according to Cabbell.
“I feel as though we could have brought a lot more to the table than we did in the first half,” Cabbell said. “And I just feel like going into the second half, the first drive, we picked up everything. It was like a new beginning, but by then it was too late.”
| October 4, 2010; 9:33 AM ET
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