Rose Bowl: Seminoles vs. Ducks
The inaugural college football playoff game started as an exciting back-and-forth affair, but Florida State’s turnover-prone second half combined with Oregon’s quick-strike offense made for a runaway effort in favor of the Ducks. Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston were the top storyline coming in, – we looked into them in detail here – and they had ups and downs of their own. Mariota overcame a rough start while Winston hung tough while trying to keep Florida State close, but he’ll likely be most remembered for his fumble that led to a touchdown late in the third quarter.
The game was more than the quarterbacks, however, and Oregon’s offensive line deserves credit for a dominant performance. They had their way in the running game and in pass protection and their ability to control the line of scrimmage proved to be the difference in the game.
Oregon moves on to face Ohio State in next week’s national championship game.
Here’s a look at the key performances from the first ever college football playoff game.
Florida State Seminoles – Performances of Note
Jameis Winston, QB: +1.1
Breakdown: Florida State’s second-half collapse had little to do with Winston who played extremely well for the most part aside from a few missed throws and of course the fumble blunder. But even then, the fumble came on fourth down when he was trying to extend a play, so a fumble is not a disastrous outcome (the resulting return for a touchdown is, but that has more to do with the bounce of the ball) and his one interception came on a batted pass that was subsequently dropped. The one pass that should have been intercepted (Q2 6:44) was dropped in the end zone, so perhaps things even out in that area.
Where Winston shined was in his accuracy to the intermediate middle of the field where he did a great job of exploiting some of Oregon’s soft zone coverages. He consistently led his receivers to open grass and showed excellent ball placement on a number of dig and post routes. Whether squeezing it into tight windows as he did at Q1 5:31 or his quick read and release at Q2 7:10 on the post, Winston was at his best when throwing between the hashes.
Signature Plays: On passes thrown in between the numbers (much wider area in college than the NFL), Winston completed 20-of-28 passes for 246 yards and a +2.9 PFF grade.
Cameron Erving, C: +5.5
Breakdown: Erving’s move to center is garnering a lot of attention in the scouting community and he put on a solid display in this one. Whether asked to open up cutbacks on inside zone plays or showing the athleticism to reach and open up holes on outside zone plays, Erving had an excellent day on his way to a +4.2 grade in the run game. He was sound in pass protection as well as he did not surrender a pressure on 50 attempts.
Signature Plays: Q1 3:44 Erving executes the reach to open up the hole for RB Dalvin Cook and shows more of the same on the first play of the second quarter against DT Sam Kamp. At Q2 8:30, he does a nice job working off the double team and finding LB Joe Walker at the second level to help open up a big gain for Cook.
Front Seven, Red Grades All Around
Breakdown: It wasn’t a great look up front for Florida State as every front-7 player with at least 10 snaps graded negatively. The two biggest names on the defense, DT Eddie Goldman (-1.3) and DE/OLB Mario Edwards Jr (-5.1) were quiet for most of the game while the rest of the unit was equally unable to keep up with Oregon’s running attack and failed to put pressure on QB Marcus Mariota. DE Derrick Mitchell struggled against the run at -4.6, as did OLB Chris Casher who lost the edge on Mariota’s touchdown and finished at -3.9 in the run game.
Signature Stats: Oregon rushed for 305 yards on 45 carries (6.8 yards/attempt) and Mariota faced pressure on only seven of his 37 drop-backs.
Oregon Ducks – Performances of Note
Marcus Mariota, QB: -1.4
Breakdown: It was a shaky outing for Mariota as a passer as he was inaccurate throughout the game and put the ball in harm’s way twice, one of which resulted in an interception. His near-INT at the 10:21 mark of the second quarter was a poor decision as he threw back across his body to the middle of the field but safety Jalen Ramsey was unable to haul in the errant pass. His actual interception at the 0:23 second mark of the second quarter was simply an overthrow on a crossing route that found safety Nate Andrews.
As for the good, ESPN did a nice job of highlighting Mariota’s read on his touchdown at the 6:53 mark of the second quarter as Mariota zipped the pass in between the cornerback and the safety to allow WR Devon Carrington to make a cut and take it 56 yards to the end zone. Mariota then showed his great touch on a 30-yard touchdown to Carrington (Q3 4:29), this time putting the ball in a spot that allowed Carrington to do work after the catch. As usual, Mariota was a weapon on the ground and he topped off Oregon’s impressive effort by beating Casher on the edge for his 23-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Mariota finished at -2.4 as a passer and +0.9 as a runner.
Signature Stats: Of Mariota’s 338 passing yards, 243 came after the catch (72% of his total). He was 11-of-12 for 76 yards on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage.
Tyrell Crosby, RT: +8.6
Breakdown: It was a dominant performance for Crosby in the running game as Oregon had a lot of success running his way. He graded at +5.4 as a run blocker as he excelled whether creating holes at the line of scrimmage or finding targets at the second level. He topped it off with a perfect day in pass protection at +2.4 on what was by far the best performance of the year for the true freshman.
Signature Plays: Q3 12:27: Crosby helps take Mitchell to the ground on a double team before climbing to the second level to toss LB Matthew Thomas to the ground as well. He followed it up on the next play by locking onto Thomas at the second level once again and opening up a hole for RB Royce Freeman’s 3-yard touchdown.
Troy Hill, CB: +1.9
Breakdown: Much was made about the Ducks missing starting cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olumu – who has received first-round buzz among scouts – but the reality is that Hill has outplayed his teammate this season and he showed well again in this game. He finished at +1.6 in coverage and allowed only two catches on five targets for only 1 yard.
Signature Plays: Q1 13:47: Hill closes quickly on a swing route to Cook. Q1 6:16: Hill makes a quick read, gets inside TE Nick O’Leary’s block and tackles WR Rashad Greene for a 3-yard loss on a screen.
PFF Game Ball
The entire Oregon offensive line did a fine job, but Tyrell Crosby was the anchor with a strong game as a run blocker and a perfect day in pass protection.
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Florida State Offense
Florida State Defense