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Notes: Jumbo TE formations help FSU in short-yardage situations

Florida State has found success on the ground this season, averaging 231.5 yards (25th in the FBS). If there is an identity on the Seminoles’ offense through two games it’s one that leans on an offensive line that has been effective in run blocking as well as the physical running of Jashaun Corbin and Treshaun Ward.

Corbin has run for 253 yards (8.4 yards per carry), while Ward has run for 121 yards (6.4 yards) per carry. The Seminoles have also fared well in short-yardage or goal-line situations by using jumbo formations with two, three and even four tight ends. It has at times helped add a punch in the ground game but also throwing multiple blocking and receiving options at opponents.

Tight end Wyatt Rector scored on one of those situations, a 2-yard reception where he was able to find an opening in the end zone when McKenzie Milton rolled out toward him.

“I kind of called it before the game,” Rector said. “I told Coach call this play and I promise I am going to score on it or one of the other tight ends are going to score on it. But I just happened to come open and score and it was a great feeling.”

Rector had one rush in 2020, on a sneak where he ran it in from 1-yard out against Pittsburgh. And on his first touch of 2021, he caught a touchdown. It’s clear there is value in using Rector, a high school quarterback who converted to tight end in spring 2020. He has added weight, improved as a blocker and contributed on special teams.

And he’s also been part of multi-TE packages that help the Seminoles either get a first down or produce touchdowns. 

“If you followed us the last four to five years, that’s something that we’ve always been really good at,” said FSU offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, referencing in part how Memphis used tight ends under coach Mike Norvell. “We’ve been really good at low red zone running game. Just like week 1, we called it, scored with Treshaun Ward there at the end of the game.”

FSU has at times run the jumbo packages with Milton but also experimented with a wildcat formation, using Corbin in the shotgun. The wildcat hasn’t been quite as effective but in concept is a creative concept that the coaching staff feels has appeal.

“Our theory is we line up in wildcat, you just skip a step,” Dillingham said. “Either you’re going to take a snap and bring it back to a guy at five yards, six yards, or you’re just going to snap it to a dude at five yards. We remove a hat in the wildcat package and we essentially get the ball to the back at the same time. That’s something we’re going to continue to do. That’s something that we believe in with those heavy tight ends and those wildcat packages on short yardages.”

Defending Wake

Wake Forest leans on the run-pass option but has a prolonged “mesh point,” the time in which quarterback Sam Hartman holds the ball and decides whether he will hand off, keep or pass. It forces the defensive line and linebackers to be more disciplined and patient.

“It forces you to do your job and stay in your gap and not get out of your gap and make a play,” said defensive tackle Fabien Lovett. “It forces you to focus on your man.”

FSU will have an added challenge without linebacker Kalen DeLoach for the first half as a result of his targeting penalty from the second half of the Jacksonville State game. The Seminoles would likely elevate Cortez Andrews to starter alongside Amari Gainer and D.J. Lundy.

“With Kalen being out the first half, we had to push other guys up to step up to the challenge,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “This is a team that plays with great tempo. One of the fastest playing teams that we’ll face this year. … that linebacker group is going to have to play at an extremely high level.”

The Osceola will have more on Wake’s offensive scheme later in the week.