Exactly what is the college football officiating
philosophy? This isn't a sour grapes response,
but a legitimate thought process shared by many
true lovers of the game. Games are decided by
players, at least that is how it should be. Whenever
officials step in to make the calls that have
bearings on the outcomes, you have a problem.
The trend of college football officiating has
turned into just that. Referees have been trained
to work a game with one hand on the flag and a
whistle in the mouth. Every play seems to be a
penalty waiting to happen. Anytime a participating
team is flagged for ten or more penalties in one
game, the referee is playing too big a role. The
inconsistencies have factual basis. How can a
group of 18-22 year olds legitimately commit three
penalties one week and over 13 penalties the following
week? The main problem is the amount of judgment
calls that officials are forced to make. We are
seeing a large amount of 15-yard personal fouls
called. The joke of this season is by far the
celebration penalty. The problem here is the inconsistency
by which officials make this call. There have
been numerous occasions this season where the
call is made on one team but not called on the
other. The interpretation of this rule needs (re)defined,
taking into account what exactly is a celebration
with a little more leniency.
The halo violation called on punting teams is
now a ten-yard penalty. Loosen up on the call.
Every kick return has a 50% chance of being flagged
for a block in the back. Referees are looking
for this violation much like a teenager leafing
through the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Holding calls are way too numerous, especially
the ones that have no bearing on the play.
Late hits out of bounds have tied the hands of
many defenders (especially when facing a running
A good referee is one that is rarely seen or heard,
and contrary to popular belief, every play is
not a penalty waiting to happen. Let them play.
FSU FOOTBALL 101
difference between the current FSU team as opposed
to recent years past:
Mississippi Riverboat gambler concept that was
portrayed while dissecting Bobby Bowden over
the early glory years has disappeared. You won’t
see double reverses anymore – an ole Bobby
won’t see blocking punts being stressed
anymore – another ole Bobby Bowden staple.
With all of the blazing athletes, FSU has failed
to locate a punt/kick returner that puts the
fear in anybody. So far through five games in
2002, the Seminoles have utilized five different
punt returners and six different kickoff returners.
Last season in 2001, the Noles tried eight different
punt returners and five different kickoff returners.
Outside of a good field goal kicker in Xavier
Beitia, the special teams are lagging.
swing pass and screens to the running backs
are gone from the days of Warrick Dunn. The
FSU tight end has one catch this year. If you
are in your base set with a tight end and a
fullback and your backs are not being utilized
in the passing scheme, you are left with two
receivers period, which is pretty easy to cover.
coaching departures have caught up with Florida
State. Only two assistant coaches remain from
the start of the 15-year glory run – running
backs coach Billy Sexton and Defensive Coordinator
Mickey Andrews. You cannot replace the attitudes,
continuity, and experience guys like Chuck Amato
bought to this program. Reflections you can plainly
see from this area include chaos on the sideline
with communications, as FSU tends to burn all
three timeouts in the first 12 minutes of each
half while trying to get plays into the ballgame.
Defensive players are standing around waiting
for the defense to be called while the offensive
is attempting to snap the ball.
folks who are questioning the talent, yes there
has been some huge drop offs. The staple of defensive
ends has been depleted. The current defensive
ends don’t have the capability to speed
rush and the cornerbacks just don’t have
the speed and covering mechanics.
easy to second-guess calls being made, but that
is the beauty of football for the fan. If I were
to put my Coaching Minor to a test right now I
would say these things:
THE INTENSITY LEVEL – This is the number
one priority, in particular up front for the defensive
group. If the players are not following suit,
then you start the replacement, regardless of
the talent drop off.
CONCEPTS – When was the last time an opposing
QB looked confused? That look now rests in the
eyes of the FSU secondary. Mix it up more. One
play you are in tight bump and run, the next play
you are in a cover 2. Disguise the blitzes, fake
the blitzes, use more blitzes and stop worrying
that you are going to get beat on the play if
you call it. You don’t need to call frequent
blitzes to be successful when the defense is struggling
as it is, but you have to at least give the impression
that you may blitz or do something else, much
like running teams throwing the deep ball just
to keep defenses honest. If you get beat here
and there, you get beat. You are getting beat
anyway. The defense has taken a “ sit back
and take what is being given” attitude while
constantly worrying, instead of just playing and
getting after people. Opposing offenses are dictating
what is being called due to FSU having a fear
of getting beat on one play. Hint: teams are not
beating FSU with one big play; they are moving
the ball up and down the field. Picking out a
game plan and making it work against the Nole
defense has proven to be very easy.
RUSH AND OVERCOMPENSATING - Believe it or not,
stop focusing on the pass rush and just work on
the stopping the run first. The efforts to find
a pass rush haven’t worked, meaning there
isn’t one to draw up with the current personnel.
Just play defense and stop trying to overcompensate
for the weaknesses.
THE HEAT OFF THE RECEIVERS - Offensively, the
tight end minus well not even be on the field.
Granted a receiving tight end rarely existed at
FSU, but it has gotten so bad at this point, that
opposing defenses have just completely written
this position off and focus everything they have
on the mighty receivers FSU employs. There is
a huge need for getting other players into the
passing game. See next point.
TAILBACKS – The previous aspect leads to
utilizing senior Nick Maddox a little more at
tailback. Personally, Greg Jones as a 250-pound
tailback is exciting and he is awesome between
the tackles when defenses are not bent on stuffing
him at the line of scrimmage, but I felt he would
have made a better fullback. It is too late for
that now. His 40-speed is good for such a big
cat, but he doesn’t have that acceleration
to blow past the linebackers and turn a 12-yard
gain into a touchdown run. Keep Jones with the
majority of carries, but utilize Maddox more.
IS A VIRTUE - QB Chris Rix needs to be taught
more patience. Coaches should literally tie his
shoelaces together some at practice, because when
Rix takes that three-step drop, he is thinking
tuck and run way too often when nothing is open
immediately. He may be a descent running QB, but
the problem here is that as soon as he tucks that
ball, his eyes are leaving the downfield receivers.
Coach and stress him to scramble while looking
down field. There is no run/pass option, only
a run option at that point.
A PROBLEM. - The receivers are fine. The highly
rated offensive line would be more fine if Rix
could force opponents to fret more about the pass.
You cannot throw deep on first down and have an
incompletion, and then run Greg Jones between
the tackles on second and ten. In other words,
way too many third down situations for an under
developed Chris Rix.
LONG TIME COMING - Someday the coaches will attempt
to remedy the penalty problems that have existed
over the last 10+ seasons, especially in key situations.
An answer isn’t easy to find. I would look
around and see what other programs are doing.
But ignoring the problem any longer isn’t
the answer with talent gaps decreased. Trust me
when I tell you that a feeling exists amongst
the FSU faithful and coaches, that everyone has
just accepted triple digit penalty yards as a
normal plight for game day.
MUST SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY - Coaches need to
look in the mirror a little more and take a larger
responsibility. No need to hit the panic button
just yet, but the string of losses to unranked
opponents is obviously cause for concern. The
biggest fault I find with the current staff can
be summed up in the words of ex-Seminole running
back Eric Shelton, who signed with FSU just two
seasons ago, transferred to Louisville just last
winter and is sitting out this season due to NCAA
transfer rules. While trying to help his Louisville
teammates out with scouting his ex-ball club this
past week leading up to the Thursday night match
up, here were some very relevant statements that
caught my eye:
- “They are a little more laid back down
there (FSU). That is one of the first things I
noticed when I got here to Louisville, the coaches
are way more intense with screaming and yelling
during practice." Shelton said. ``We know
what they're going to do. We just have to come
out and play hard. That's the main thing. At FSU,
if we were playing a Miami or Florida, they might
come up with some different stuff, but if it was
an ACC or any other non-conference game, you just
strapped it up and played hard.''
If a kid who played for both schools can realize
it, then it must be true. The staff has lost their
intensity, and it shows in the player’s
actions. The under ranked teams that are beating
FSU do so against very vanilla schemes that stress
just lining up and beating the man in front of
you. Talent alone isn’t going to win FSU
ballgames anymore. All things even, the scale
has been tipped away from talent and more towards
coaching decisions. Bobby Bowden doesn’t
call the X’s and O’s on game day.
He has a major problem right now. How do you tell
your own son and a defensive coordinator of 23
years that you are changing things up? However,
if anyone can make the right decisions defensively,
Mickey Andrews can.