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Q&A With Folks That Know What It's Like To Face Florida State

I reached out to some of the other blogs who know the position Oklahoma State is in. After-all, they faced the same challenges a year ago.

Stacy Revere

The saying is the enemy of your enemy is your friend. I put that to the test as I reached out to a few of our fellow SB Nation bloggers that faced Florida State a season ago.  What should the Cowboys prepare for? What, if any, success did you have against the Seminoles? Is Jameis Winston and FSU beatable?  Those are the questions I asked, and I got back some rather interesting responses.

Before we get started I want to thank everyone for their help. I put this together with rather short notice, and these guys really came through. A big thanks to them!


CARDIAC HILL - Pittsburgh Panthers

Pitt kicked off their season last year in the same position as the Pokes this year; against Florida State. Anson Whaley gave some great insight on their game.

Last season the Panthers were in the same situation. They opened up against FSU, and were the ‘Noles first victim on the season with a 41-13 loss.  The Seminoles opened up the game in the second quarter, but was there ever a time early in the game where FSU look susceptible?

I don't know if I'd call it Florida State looking susceptible as much as the Panthers just playing better early on. Pitt got off to a strong start and went down the field for a touchdown on their first possession. On the opening drive, they seemed to keep the Seminoles off balance a little mixing in both passes and runs, including an end around by wide receiver Tyler Boyd. The Panthers also put together another good scoring drive in the second quarter and, again, it was more of the same with a solid balance on offense. The running game contributed, Tom Savage completed several short-mid range passes, and Pitt mixed in another end around or reverse using Boyd that resulted in a big gain. Their third scoring drive was nearly identical to the others with yet another Boyd run - again, if I'm not mistaken, on an end around or reverse.

The X-factor in all of those drives was the utilization of a wideout as a running back on some modest trick plays. Boyd played running back in high school, so the staff really utilized his abilities with each of his runs picking up about 20 yards each. If the Cowboys have an athletic talent like that, I wouldn't be surprised to see them try the same thing if the coaches have watched film on that Pitt game.

When Pitt looked their best on offense, they were using a balanced offense and were aided by some innovative yards on the ground by Boyd.

What did Florida State do that Pitt wasn't able to answer?

Pitt's biggest problem all night was clearly in the secondary, but to be fair to those guys, there were a couple of other issues. For one, Tom Savage threw two interceptions in the first half which ended drives and resulted in two Florida State touchdowns on short fields. That game could have been a lot closer at the half. While they probably still lose, if they hang onto the ball there, the game might have looked a lot different. The other issue was the stale game plan on defense, which never evolved. Pitt started out with their cornerbacks a good 7-10 yards off of the receivers on many plays for fear of getting burned. While they may have prevented some big passing plays, Winston simply picked the defense apart.

I didn't have a problem with the strategy to start the game - it was probably the way to go, in fact. Pitt was clearly testing Winston since he was a freshman in his first game and hoping the defensive line could get enough pressure on him to make mistakes. But once that didn't happen, it made little sense for the corners to continue playing back so much. Winston's proven he'll make throws if he has time. If Oklahoma State is to be successful, they'll need to play more aggressively against the wide receivers than Pitt did. Florida State might run more than they did last year with a veteran offensive line, but to me, it's all about limiting the passing game since you know the Seminoles will utilize Winston as much as they can.

What advice do you have for Cowboy fans as they await the game?

It was a little different for Pitt last year and the loss was pretty deflating not only because it was in-conference, but because it was a blowout in their first ever ACC game. Advice for Cowboys fans? Don't jump ship if they don't win or even if the game's not all that close. It's a big test, but still one that's out of conference. And, man, it's not a home game, but playing in Texas has to be some sort of an advantage to the Cowboys - make some noise out there, Pokes


BC INTERRUPTION - Boston College

The Eagles nearly defeat the Seminoles last season. If it wasn't for a giving up a Hail Mary at the close of the first half, BC just may have escaped with a win. Dan Ruben does a great job of explaining how he thinks Oklahoma State should go about the game in order to do what they came so close to doing themselves.

Last season Boston College came close  to upsetting the Seminoles, including hanging more points on them than anyone else.  What did the Eagles do to find success offensively?

BC managed to do a few things really well against Florida State that the Seminoles weren't ready for.  For starters, they attacked.  They came out with their offense, lined up, and pounded the ball right into the teeth of the defense.  They gave the ball to Andre Williams and ran long, sustained drives with the intention of getting the guys tired.  BC really protected the football.  I think Andre had just under 150 yards.

The thing is that you can directly trace the FSU win back to a couple of different places.  Tied at 17-17, Jameis Winston threw a hail mary touchdown as time expired before the half.  Then they came out, held BC to a field goal, and scored a touchdown in response.  At that point, it was too far behind.  Had BC scored a touchdown there in the 3rd, things would've been or at least could've been difference.

BC was able to get 5 stops on defense, is there anything the Cowboys can do to try and frustrate Jameis Winston?

In terms of stopping FSU, you don't.  You just hope to contain them.  BC didn't necessarily go after Jameis Winston.  They went after everyone else.  With the exception of the Hail Mary, Winston didn't throw for 300 yards; BC went after his receivers and really took them out.  Nobody had more than four catches.  And for the most part BC let him run, but they didn't let him run wild.  They really gave their defense the message of "bend, don't break."  They didn't break, but FSU managed to still get their stats.  Had BC had better talent on the field, they would've been right in there and possibly won the game.

What advice do you have for Cowboy fans as they await the game?

Here's the thing for OSU fans.  Don't try to outrun FSU.  Be patient.  Let your team get its feet wet and hopefully not try to outscore the Noles.  You cannot beat them in a foot race.  Instead, let your team drone the clock down and not go for the home run ball.  It's like watching a boxing match.  You want your guy to go for the knockout punch, but you can win the fight if you dance around him and jab for 12 rounds.  So let your team jab if that's what they decide to do.


ALLIGATOR ARMY - Florida Gators

I reached out to Andy Hutchins with Alligator Army, because nobody had more success slowing down the Heisman Trophy winner than the Gators, and I was curious to know what the Pokes may do to replicate that "success". Florida lost the game 37-7, so any success is relative.

Last season Florida held the ‘Noles to their second lowest point total all season at 37. Not bad considering the Gators didn’t get much help from the offense. How was Florida able to find success early on defense? What are some of the things Oklahoma State could look to do to try and frustrate Jameis Winston?

In a word, pressure. Florida was able to press and manhandle FSU receivers early on, and Florida's emaciated defense still had enough pass rush to trouble Winston for the first half of that game. I don't know all that much about Oklahoma State's personnel, but if those guys can pressure Winston, he can be a bit erratic: He was, at least, at his most iffy in a very non-iffy Heisman campaign when his line let defenders shrink his pocket, rare though that was.

Oklahoma State could also hope that no FSU receiver presents the same physical mismatch that Kelvin Benjamin did on that day, but hope is a poor substitute for personnel.

Do you foresee the Seminoles remaining undefeated for a second season? Are they beatable?

With a gun to my head, I would bet against Florida State going undefeated again, merely because the 'Noles will have to play more games outside of what looks like an even weaker ACC than the one they torched in 2013 to finish unbeaten. I also think FSU might be in for a little regression on both sides of the ball, if only because pretty much everything went right for FSU in 2013.

But as for "beatable": Every college football team is. Some times are just more or less beatable than others. 2014 Florida State looks to me like the least beatable team in the nation, painful though that is to admit.

What advice do you have for Cowboy fans as they await the game?

Invest in earplugs. You're gonna hear that one damn chant a lot on Saturday, and you'll have to interact with the corporeal form of #FSUTwitter a lot on Friday before and Saturday after the game.

But, mostly, prepare for the possibility of a very, very good football team smithereening yours. This way, if and when (and, boy, I hope it's when) y'all win, the surprise will be its own reward.



I wrapped up my inquiry with WarRoomEagle with College and Magnolia. Auburn gave the Seminoles every thing they could handle. There are some things Oklahoma State does similarly to Auburn on defense, and I was curious to know where the Cowboys might find success.

Due to the short notice WarRoomEagle didn't have time to watch the game footage again, instead relying on memory and statistics, but his answers are incredible nonetheless.

Florida State struggled against Auburn in the first half, and at one point the Tigers actually held a 21-3 lead in the game.  How was Auburn able to find so much early success? How was the defense able to get pressure on Winston?

Aside from apparently not being very creative with their offensive signals, FSU's offense was also simply surprised by the speed of Auburn's up front. Auburn had four sacks and five tackles for loss in that game. I believe the success came about because Auburn was (cliche-alert) very aggressive. The Tigers blitzed on 47% of all passing plays in the first half. And when Winston did get the ball out to his receivers, they didn't do him many favors as there were a few key drops early on. Unfortunately, Auburn backed off in the second half, blitzing only 32% of the time, and the FSU's receivers got into a rhythm, especially on short and quick passes.

What were the Tigers doing on offense that allowed them to drive the ball down the field and score? Oklahoma State and coach Gundy really like to push the pace of play, do you foresee that being an issue for FSU?

Rule number one for scoring on Florida State is: Get a short field to work with. Auburn's touchdown drives were 25, 85, 27, and 75 yards long. Rule number two for scoring on Florida State is: Hit a big play. The 85 yard TD drive ended with a 50 yard touchdown pass and the 75 yard TD drive ended with a 37 yard touchdown run.

Pace can be helpful against the Seminoles, too. They have (or had) a very athletic secondary and that allowed them to defend receivers closely while taking risks up front, so the Hurry-Up (specifically the Quick Huddle) led to some busted assignments. Perhaps the biggest way the Hurry-Up helped Auburn was by keeping FSU's nose tackle off the field. He made a mess up front most of the game, but he subbed out in one late drive, and when Auburn went Hurry-Up, they had some consistent success.

What advice do you have for Cowboy fans as they await the game?

Watch the FSU Film Cut-Ups I posted if you want. You can see every FSU offensive play in about 10 minutes and every FSU defensive play in about 14. Other than that, just look forward the game and look forward to next week when, win or lose, #FSUTwitter and Tomahawk Nation will finally leave you alone. Actually, looking at some comments on your site, it seems that FSU fans have been pretty level-headed about the whole thi... Nevermind.


I want to thank Anson Whaley, Dan Ruben, Andy Hutchins, and WarRoomEagle one more time, they really came through!