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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The Big Board: Managing missed tackles

By David M. Hale

The mantra for any defense preparing for Georgia Tech's triple option is the same: Stay on your assignments, mind your gaps, don't try to do too much.

Cornellius Carradine
The loss of defensive end Cornellius Carradine will be felt against Georgia Tech's tricky triple-option offense.
For an FSU defense that hasn't faced a true option team in years, that may be a tall order, but it's also not its only concern.

As Florida racked up rushing yards and converted nearly half its third-down tries last week, one problem continued to haunt the Seminoles: Missed tackles.

"We lost contain. We had contain issues," Jimbo Fisher said. "We weren't supportive in contain. Guys were there, they just weren't pulling the pin. It happened on the scrambles and a couple counters that bounced outside."

That's out of character for Florida State's defense, which has thrived on gang tackling and athleticism on the perimeter throughout the season. When it has struggled though, the results have been obvious.

Overall, Florida State ranks fifth in the ACC in fewest missed tackles this season, and out of 68 schools in AQ conferences, the Noles are 36th. More concerning is that the trend is pointing in the wrong direction -- and that concern grows when you remember that FSU's leading tackler, Cornellius Carradine, went down with a torn ACL last week.

Conversely, Georgia Tech's triple option thrives on confusion, misdirection and breaking tackles.

When teams have missed five or fewer tackles against Tech, the Jackets are averaging just 15 points per game. When they've missed 10 or more, the Jackets have averaged 44 points per game.

It's intuitive, of course -- and lots of missed tackles are also a sign of a poor defense -- but given recent trend the missed tackles are something to watch this week as Georgia Tech searches for any potential advantages against the heavily favored Seminoles. Add in a linebacking corps that has been exposed at times this season, a brand new starter at defensive end, and the impending departure (and accompanying distractions) of defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, and it's a potential recipe for the Yellow Jackets to find a good bit of offensive success.