The Daily Nole

On My Mind Monday: Which Games Did FSU’s Defense Get “Worn Down” in 2018?

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

Florida State’s defense got a raw bargain for most of 2018.

Despite flashes of greatness and some very solid performances, the defense was hung out to dry by an offense that could barely stay on the field long enough for the defense to get a water break. 4-and-out became a common occurrence in the worst way.

Getting worn down on defense is a well-known phenomenon when an offense is getting off the field quickly (and not in a good way). Florida State was not immune to it, and a few games in particular stick out when talking of a tired defense. But was “getting worn out” a primary reason that the FSU defense struggled down the stretch?

In order to help find out which games that occurred, we went over each contest and tracked the points allowed in the second half. It’s not an exact science (going by number of drives or number of plays would be better) but it’s also just a sketch piece which fits pretty closely with the eye test.

The numbers are structured as (Points the defense allowed in second half/Points the team scored the entire game). We have removed any opponent defensive/special teams touchdowns. Comments are below.

Virginia Tech: 7/24

Samford: 3/26

Syracuse: 24/30

Northern Illinois: 12/19

Louisville: 3/24

Miami: 21/28

Wake: 7/17

Clemson: 31/59

NC State: 20/47

Notre Dame: 10/42

Boston College: 14/21

Florida: 28/41

The numbers won’t actually capture the context of each game. Still, they provide an interesting look at the type of games where FSU’s defense faltered down the stretch.

Syracuse, Florida, and Miami are the best examples. Florida State’s defense held firm in the first half for each contest, allowing six, 13, and seven points, respectively. The sad part is that in two of those games, Florida State still entered the locker room in a deficit. It is fair to note that two of Miami’s second-half touchdown drives started in the FSU red zone, but the Hurricanes also missed a short field goal in the second half and cemented the game with first downs deep into Florida State territory.

That’s as big an indictment as you can find in this piece. If a defense allows less than 14 points in a half, and the team is still down heading in to halftime, any criticism should go towards the offense.

What happened when the offense actually did provide some support? In the Wake, Northern Illinois, and Louisville contests, the Seminoles’ offense recorded their three highest point totals of the season against FBS competition. In all those games, the opposing team couldn’t muster more than two scores in the second half. All three were victories.

Yet, overall this picture is truly a mixed bag. Some games, the defense got worn down. Others, they started poorly and couldn’t recover (NC State). Finally, in a couple games they just didn’t do anything right (Notre Dame, Clemson).

Trying to extrapolate into the 2019 season is probably fruitless. Everyone knows that a better offense will help the defense stay off the field and get more time to recover.

This would probably allow the defense to bring more well-rounded efforts for all four quarters. Still, this boost will not completely remedy some of the issues witnessed last season. That will be up to the coaching staff to make sure the weak spots are shored up and that the depth is improved.

Clint Eiland is the lead writer for The Daily Nole. Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintEiland. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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