Reality Check in Tallahassee

Virginia Tech fans received a splash of cold water to the face after the football team's talent level and attention to detail was exposed in a demoralizing loss at Florida State. Breaking it down in a 9-play, 2,400-word film review.

[Florida State Athletics]

After looking solid against a pitiful Pitt offense last week, all the Hokies got on a trip to Tallahassee was a stone cold dose of reality. Florida State dominated the line of scrimmage and the Seminoles rushed the football for 282 yards, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. While the Hokies had their share of gap fit issues that continue to plague the defense, many of those long runs also saw Florida State winning every individual battle to expose how far behind Virginia Tech is in the battle for talent.

Offensively, there was a mixed bag. The Hokies ran the football effectively in large part due to misdirection and the threat of quarterback Kyron Drones as a runner. Virginia Tech's running backs and slot receiver Jaylin Lane were able to move the sticks with short underneath routes on third down relatively consistently. However, the Hokies struggled to finish drives because of an inability to protect Drones and no real semblance of a vertical passing game. The Seminoles completely took away Da'Quan Felton, and Drones rarely had a completion that wasn't a couple of yards from the line of scrimmage.

Where are the wins on defense?

The Hokies have struggled all season with the second-level defenders fitting the correct gap. Those troubles were compounded against Florida State, as the Virginia Tech front couldn't consistently get off blocks to redirect the Seminole runners.

Part of Florida State's strategy early in the game was to use alignment to take the WILL linebacker, Tech's most consistent linebacker, out of the box through the use of formation, specifically a slot receiver to the boundary.

Right off the bat, the Hokies put the Seminoles in a 3rd-and-long situation. The Seminoles lined up in a four receiver look, with tight end Kyle Morlock (No. 84) to the boundary. The Hokies, expecting a pass, are playing Cover 1. Morlock's alignment forces Keli Lawson (No. 21) to flex outside, while STAR linebacker Keonta Jenkins (No. 7) and MIKE Alan Tisdale (No. 34) slide over to the boundary. FSU ran matching fake screens with the slots feigning blocks to the sidelines. This forced the defenders to also widen out, leaving the Hokies with six defenders in the box and centerfield safety Mose Phillips (No. 18) to defend the run. The Seminoles then ran an inside draw with a read option element, with quarterback Jordan Travis freezing field d-end Cole Nelson (No. 17).

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