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Week 3 FSU Stock Market Report: Virginia

Florida State took a tough loss Saturday against the Virginia Waho… Cavaliers, but that doesn’t mean everything is all bad. This week, we introduce a new weekly piece called the Stock Market Report, letting you know what stock in FSU Football will give you good or bad returns.

The game was back and forth all night. Neither team jumped out to a big lead and it was just good competitive football on both sides. The defense held their own to start the game and waited for the offense to catch up for once. Asante Samuel Jr picked off Bryce Perkins on the first drive of the game, and Levonta Taylor would make an appearance by grabbing one of his own to close the first half. After a quarter, Virginia led 3-0, before James Blackman dumped it off to Gabe Nabers who scampered into the endzone. Virginia would answer the following drive making it 10-7.

FSU scored with under a minute to go in the half, with a pass from Blackman to Cam Akers, the score being set up by a 36-yard run from Virginia native Khalan Laborn.

This game, FSU didn’t fall apart in the third quarter, actually outscoring the Cavs with a 53-yard boot from Ricky Aguayo. The defense at least waited until the 4th quarter to implode this time, allowing a touchdown as soon as the quarter opened with a gorgeous throw from Perkins to Joe Reed.

Blackman and the offense would answer the very next drive with an 8 play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended in a 17-yard pass from Blackman to Keyshawn Helton. The offense wouldn’t score again.

The defense kept getting penalty after penalty and allowed Virginia to just move down the field at ease. They softened up at the worst time, but it looked like there was still hope after Virginia missed a PAT with just over 6 minutes remaining, leaving FSU with a 24-23 lead. This just created a sense of urgency on Virginia’s sideline, as they quickly forced a 3-and-out and drove right back down the field to score another TD, this time with a 2-point conversion to boot, on a play that should’ve had two or three holding calls.

The drive to try and tie the game can be described in one word: wacky. Blackman missed Tamorrion Terry for what would’ve been an easy touchdown. There was defensive pass interference, a roughing the passer, and a personal foul on Virginia’s head coach, all in one series to keep the drive alive for the ‘Noles. Blackman took a sack with under 30 seconds to go, forcing the use of the team’s last timeout. He would then deliver a strike to Keyshawn Helton for a first down at the 4-yard line, but clock operators let the clock run for a few seconds despite the first down, and the clock expired before FSU could get to the line and run another play, forcing a direct snap into Akers’ hands.

Great Investments

K Ricky Aguayo and P Tommy Martin

I don’t know what has happened with the Seminoles’ special teams lately, but the kickers have been crushing the ball. Aguayo made a 53 yarder that was good from at least 58 and Martin flipped field position multiple times throughout the game. Martin is already better than Logan Tyler has been the past few seasons, and there’s probably a reason he was made special teams captain over Aguayo this week.

RB Cam Akers

Akers didn’t have the gaudiest stats; 18 carries for 78 yards, 3 receptions for 9 yards and a TD. But you can just tell how much he cares and how selfless he is on the field. The last play that technically didn’t count, he was fighting tooth and nail to try and get into the end zone. His touchdown was no easy catch, but he managed to come down with the ball. He made a defender miss in the backfield despite having a free run at Akers. He does everything he possibly can to fight for his team and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Analyst Jim Leavitt

The defense played too well for him to not have input on playcalling or the gameplan. For the most part, players were put in a position to succeed, they just didn’t. If he is a part of the staff from the beginning, we’re talking about a much different start to the season, and there is no way FSU starts 1-2.

Solid Investments

TE Gabe Nabers

Raise your hand if you thought Nabers would be FSU’s leader in receiving touchdowns through three games. Him, Keyshawn Helton, and Akers each have two receiving TDs, everyone else that has caught a touchdown has one touchdown. Nabers is a great blocker, and really my only complaint is I’d like to see him play more. Him being in the lineup is causing at least a little confusion as he becomes a greater receiving threat.

RB Khalan Laborn

Speaking of playing more, Laborn needs more touches somehow. He had three rushes: one got stopped behind the line with no holes, one got blown up by whoever Ryan Roberts was blocking, and the last one went for 36 yards to set the ‘Noles up to score before halftime. He’s got wiggles, FSU just needs to give him more than 5 touches a game.

DB Carlos Becker

Becker has struggled with injuries throughout his career, so to see him on the field making plays is nice to see. He had a touchdown-saving tackle on Bryce Perkins, and a deep pass break up when Asante Samuel Jr couldn’t locate the ball to keep UVA pinned within their own 10. Him continuing to stay healthy will be big for Florida State going forward.

Bad Returns

LBs Dontavious Jackson, DeCalon Brooks, Leonard Warner 

Jackson continues to get playing time and I just don’t understand it. He misses gaps consistently, doesn’t get off blocks, and gets called for penalties multiple times each game. I get the depth at this position isn’t fantastic, but let the freshmen get work in, please. Brooks is here simply for the fact he rolled up on Joshua Kaindoh’s leg and knocked Kaindoh out of the game. Brooks has been a disappointment this season, and just is never in the right position. Warner got beat multiple times, but to his credit, he wasn’t always put in the best position to succeed. He was in coverage against Joe Reed and Perkins dropped a gorgeous pass over Warner for a touchdown. There’s not much you can ask of Warner there, but it seemed he was always on the wrong end of big plays. With Kaindoh out for the foreseeable future, Warner is going to be getting a lot more playing time.

OTs Ryan Roberts and Abdul Bello

It’s hard to scheme when these two continued to give up pressure. Roberts was supposed to help solidify the right side of the line next to a true freshman, but Lucas has been the best lineman so far.

WR DJ Matthews

Before the game, it broke that Matthews didn’t make the trip because he “didn’t meet expectations.” There have been rumors he walked out of a meeting and other rumors he’s transferred. All we do know is something happened and he wasn’t contributing in the biggest game so far this season. Younger guys were able to get run in because of his absence, and it was nice to see Keyshawn Helton have a solid game, but having experience in a game like last night would’ve been helpful. As news comes out, this situation will be cleared up, but it’s concerning as it stands currently.

Buy/Sell

Buy: FSU is an improving team

Not many fans expected the Seminoles to hang in there blow for blow with Virginia. Florida State finished with no turnovers, forced 3 and outs, flipped field position, and made big plays when they were needed. The team made major strides, they were just hidden under a layer of heartbreak. The team is in the midst of a full-blown rebuild, and seeing the improvements is the biggest thing I am looking for.

Sell: FSU is an average team

Penalties are what killed the team against the Cavs. Too many unsportsmanlike penalties in times they really weren’t needed. FSU continues to be too undisciplined for their own good. For a while, penalties were split even, both in total penalties and penalty yardage, for Virginia and FSU. Then Robert Cooper had an unsportsmanlike. Followed by Marvin Wilson. Those are just the two the stick out in my mind, but there were other really stupid penalties. Until these penalties get fixed, FSU won’t be able to make that next jump in the rebuilding process.

Buy: The Kendal Briles offense

Having an offense that can move and strike quickly works really well when the offense is ahead of the chains. Getting five-yard gains followed by quick passes and the occasional deep ball while keeping the defense on their heels works so well when they get the chance. The problem is the offensive line is still so subpar that Briles is still figuring out how to scheme around it. This offense is going to light up come scoreboards throughout the season and has shown so much improvement compared to last season.

Sell: The Kendal Briles offense with a late lead

That being said, there is zero reason to be hurrying to the ball while up 1 with 6 minutes remaining trying to snap it with 30 seconds on the play clock. All three plays that series were passes, with the third one being incomplete, giving a total drive of just over a minute. Akers has been a workhorse all season, give him at least two carries there with Nabers and Tre McKitty blocking and see what happens. Worst case scenario is you gain just a couple yards while wasting a lot of time, instead of two quick passes that go nowhere and rushing to the line. On one hand, going so fast is what allowed us to have time for a drive at the end, but I’d rather have seen the offense take their time and take what the defense gives them.

Buy: FSU got screwed by the officiating

There were a lot of questionable penalties on both teams, but not stopping the clock after a first down is inexcusable. Helton was down with 7 seconds left, but the clock ran until there was four. By the time the ‘Noles got to the line, there was not enough time to spike the ball without the game ending. It wasn’t the first time the clock crew didn’t stop the clock after a first down either, I noticed they’d done the same for UVA at one point in the game. The ACC has had notoriously bad officiating for years, but not having someone that can correctly run a clock is inexcusable.

Sell: FSU lost the game because of officiating

That last attempt at a play wouldn’t have mattered had James Blackman hit Tamorrion Terry down the sideline with a minute left. Terry put a gorgeous move on the outside cornerback, but Blackman just overthrew him. Blackman was solid most of the night, but had a couple of really poor throws and this was one of them.

Buy: Blackman is the best quarterback for this roster

Blackman missing throws and him being the best quarterback for this roster can coexist in one sentence. He has made plays to win games in the past that FSU ended up losing because of the pieces around him or the defense. For this game, he just wasn’t on the mark when the team really needed him to be. There is nothing Alex Hornibrook did in his career at Wisconsin that makes me think he could run this offense better than Blackman. Hornibrook is coming from an offense that packed it in tight and ran the ball for the majority of the game, and now he’s in an offense that spreads it across the field and requires him to make quick passes. In 35 career games at Wisconsin, he threw 47 TDs and 33 INTs. In 18 career games, Blackman currently has 33 TDs and 14 INTs, and has more mobility needed to escape the pocket when it breaks down. Yes, Blackman isn’t perfect. We knew that coming into the season. That doesn’t mean he isn’t the best QB for this system though.


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