Only three FBS teams in the nation have allowed fewer rushing yards per game this season than Florida State, which should make things interesting on Saturday given how successful Virginia has been at running the ball this year.
Led by weak-side linebacker Nigel Bradham – who has tallied a team-high 62 tackles – the Seminoles have given up 85 rushing yards per game this season. Only three of Florida State’s 10 opponents (Oklahoma, Wake Forest and Miami) in 2011 have gained 100 or more rushing yards.
“They look like the Florida State of old,” Virginia Coach Mike London said Monday. “You look throughout their defense, and you see guys that are vertical players up the field. They are take off and aggressive players. They don’t do a whole lot of blitzing. They just say, ‘Here we are. We’re attacking you. Now block us.’ They’ve got a lot of speed and athleticism that they just play sound, fundamental defense.”
Florida State (7-3, 5-2 ACC) leads the conference in tackles for a loss (72). Seven Seminoles defenders have recorded 5 or more tackles for a loss on the year.
But the Cavaliers (7-3, 4-2) will provide Florida State’s run defense its stiffest test to date. Virginia ranks No. 3 in the ACC in rushing offense (187.4 ypg) and has yet to rush for less than 124 yards in a game this season. Junior tailback Perry Jones is averaging 85.6 rushing yards per game behind an offensive line that stands among the conference’s best.
En route to gaining 165 rushing yards Saturday in a 31-21 win over Duke, London said he was impressed with the offensive line’s endurance, a characteristic that likely will come in handy in Tallahassee this weekend.
“In the really clutch moments when we had to run the ball and get first downs or try and knock them off the ball, what really struck me was in the latter part of the game, (left tackle) Oday Aboushi was running downfield to get a block on a defensive back,” London said. “As the game wore on, when you see big guys running downfield to block … when you see big guys at the end of a game fighting to get downfield to make blocks, that stands out.” …
Speaking of Jones, he was inserted into Saturday’s game against Duke in the third quarter to field a punt. Jones – who returned punts occasionally last season – gained 21 yards, the second-longest punt return by a Virginia player this season.
London and wide receivers coach Shawn Moore in the past week described Jones as the best punt returner on the team’s roster, but said the coaches have cautioned against using him in that role because they already are asking him to fulfill so many other responsibilities on offense.
But given the continued struggles of true freshman Dominique Terrell – the team’s primary punt returner – and the success, albeit in a limited dosage, that Jones had as a punt returner against Duke, are the Cavaliers considered moving Jones into that role on a more permanent basis?
“Going down the stretch here with opportunities to be very competitive and play, it’s important that we try to put our best players in the best position to help us,” London said Monday. “Could you see Perry back there? You very well could.” …
On Sunday, London said he had filed a formal complaint to the conference office regarding a pass interference call made in the second quarter Saturday against safety Corey Mosley.
Duke faced fourth and goal from the five-yard line when Mosley batted down a pass at the goal line and was flagged by the referee in the far back corner of the end zone for pass interference. Duke, which was awarded a first down due to the Virginia penalty, scored on a one-yard touchdown run two plays later to give the Blue Devils a 14-7 lead.
At the time, London and safeties coach Anthony Poindexter were, shall we say, a bit peeved at the call.
When asked Monday whether he’d heard back from the conference office, London said, “All I’ll say is I’ve been reassured.”