Nick’s Keys to the Game: Florida State

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After last Saturday, I think we all need to look forward and forget about what has transpired so far this season. None of the ugly football or judgment issues of past weeks will help Virginia from this time forward. The biggest game of the year is the next one, and in this case it’s Florida State coming into town. The Seminoles sputtered to a win over Miami in the first game of the year, but have since cranked it up. They come into Charlottesville sporting a 5-0 record and a top-5 ranking. Due to serious personnel shortcomings, the ‘Hoos will have to execute the keys of the game perfectly to have a chance of victory.


1) Use the Seminoles’ speed against them

Marques Hagans will have to be elusive and resourceful.

If there is one thing top teams do, it’s smell blood. With the injuries and general decimation of the Cavalier offensive line, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews will blitz, blitz again and blitz some more. The ‘Hoos must accept the fact that Marques Hagans is going to be running for his life all night long. Luckily, UVa has the personnel to potentially make this negative into a large positive.

The first offensive key is for the ‘Hoos to turn Hagans loose from the get-go. Most people get confused when they talk about why Hagans is such a good runner. The word I hear most often is “fast”. I hate to burst your bubble, but Hagans really isn’t a burner. What make him so effective is his balance and his ability to change directions on a dime. He is built so low to the ground that he can change his path quicker than anyone else around him, ala Barry Sanders. That is key because that kind of running ability is best employed when defenders are running straight at Hagans, not waiting at the line for him to try to out-run them to the corner.

That is the same reason Hagans was such an effective punt returner – he used angles and quick lateral movements to make guys over-run the play. Hagans