Let the offseason of fun commence.
A few weeks ago, I began to watch tape of FSU’s offense in various games under Jimbo Fisher. The idea was to write a breakdown piece about how Geoff Collins’s defenses are naturally built to stop such offenses, as a sort of part two to the breakdown piece of his defense I wrote back in December. Specifically, this one was meant to go into depth about how his linebackers and hybrid players would fool the offensive line by disguising their plans for the play and then get themselves into position to stop the play (and I shouldn’t really use past tense here, because I’m still very much planning on writing this breakdown piece sometime in the near future).
But my intentions to analyze FSU’s offense vanished in the very first game I watched (Florida vs. FSU in 2012) when I saw something astounding. Late in the game, down 37-20, EJ Manuel was running for his life despite Florida sending only two pass rushers. So where were his linemen? Why, they were blocking each other, of course.
Of course, being me, I had to find more, and I enlisted in the help of several readers and fans to help me. So before I reveal them, I want to thank IAKOW readers Gator Curtis, Jax Gator, Hybrid Rainbow, The Man, Kyle Jennings and Not A Doctor for assisting me with this project. Each of them found at least one of the pictures you’re about to see below.
As of this writing, it’s been seven weeks since FSU linemen blocking each other first received national attention:
FSU fans (specifically @TomahawkNation): NEVER make fun of Florida for blocking themselves again. pic.twitter.com/vATSnZSb9a
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) January 2, 2015
What a beautiful moment. In fact, it’s so touching that I tracked down multiple other angles. Here’s the frame where they first embraced:
And here’s what it looked like live on TV:
This little bit of friendly fire was viewed as karmic payback to all the FSU fans who spent an entire year taunting Florida about their linemen blocking each other in 2013 against Georgia Southern, and then again in last year’s game against South Carolina. “You guys did it in the biggest game of the year!” and “Yeah, our worst teams in several decades did it, but one of the best teams in FSU history did it!” were seen as the rationale from Gator fans that FSU’s instance of blocking themselves was worse than both of Florida’s instances.
But Gator fans don’t need such rationale to argue the quality of the occurrences, because sheer volume wins. And as it turns out, FSU has blocked each other literally dozens of times over the past few years.
Let’s start with the first one I found, from the 2012 Florida-FSU game in 2012, which proves that not only did FSU block each other more recently, they also did it first:
Yep, that’s embarrassing. But wait, it gets better: that wasn’t even the first time that it happened in that game:
OK, so at least this time there’s a Gator in their area (Dante Fowler) that they originally had their eyes on (and been beat by). In any case, check out their arms and hands, and where they’re facing. There’s no doubt about it, they’re grappling with each other. Sure, it’s partly a result of being schooled by Fowler… but they’re still blocking each other.
It also happened earlier that year against USF in Tampa.
This one is particularly amusing because both guys are facing the sideline, as opposed to the line of scrimmage, and they’re exchanging this most unique sort of friendly fire less than a second after the ball is snapped. #75 does appear to be more energetic about laying his block than his teammate, I’ll say that. But regardless, this was nothing new for USF to behold, because FSU did the same thing against them three years earlier in Tallahassee (in their infamous home whiteout):
To be fair, there is a USF defender underneath that pile, engaged with the FSU lineman on the left. But then the second guy launches himself at the two players, causing the USF player to slip and fall. However, the two Noles then continue to grapple with each other for a couple additional seconds.
Here’s another one from 2009, against North Carolina.
I’ll give these guys credit for trying to block the UNC defender, but he sheds the block and the two Noles run full force into each other- and don’t realize it for about a second and a half. When two teammates fight each other for a full second or more, that’s considered blocking each other. So yes, two FSU linemen blocked each other against UNC in 2009.
They also did it in the Gator Bowl that same year:
This isn’t even good form.
And neither is this:
Do they not call face mask penalties when it’s against your own teammate? I guess it’d be hard to, because who would you penalize? Probably FSU, but the victim of the foul was also FSU, so wouldn’t Jimbo Fisher just decline it? Or maybe they’d just be offsetting penalties and no yardage marked off either way? I don’t know. But this is 2013, one of FSU’s best teams ever, and here they are blocking themselves. Hilarious.
Then there was the time they did it in that year’s ACC Championship Game:
DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT, I CAUGHT YOU ON TAPE WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE COOKIE JAR/ON YOUR TEAMMATE’S JERSEYS.
Yes, FSU fans, even your best teams ever block each other multiple times in a season. But FSU’s worst teams do it more. Back to 2009, in a game (that FSU very nearly lost) against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Come on, guy on the left, what exactly do you think you’re doing with your right hand? As Ron Bergundy would say, no touching of the hair or face, or garments that protect the hair or face:
I’m not really sure if this really qualifies as “blocking” his teammate, but what’s his hand doing on his teammate’s helmet? That’s not nice.
And neither is this:
Come on, guys, really? I don’t work in FSU’s athletic offices, but I’ll bet that staging an impromptu Oklahoma drill to settle which of you will do the getaway driving for Jameis Winston’s next seafood theft… while the ball is still bouncing around… isn’t what you’re on scholarship to do. Use your words. Fighting is never the answer. (And do it after the game).
At least their predecessors three years earlier showed more affection toward each other in a game against ULM:
This next one is what happens when your team is getting blown out so badly you just feel like taking your frustrations out on anyone dumb enough to get in your way. Even your own teammate.
DON’T BLOCK WITH YOUR ELBOWS, KIDS.
And don’t block the back of your opponent’s… or teammate’s… neck.
This is what happens when you see your teammate is about to get beat and you want to bail him out too badly:
And this is what happens when your teammate has already been beat and you want to try to bail him out too badly:
So far, we’ve seen several instances of FSU offensive linemen blocking each other. But guess what? Their defensive linemen do it, too:
Back to the offensive line: sometimes, the Noles lay cut blocks on each other, too!
This next one, in all fairness, is not two Noles blocking each other. Instead, it features one FSU Seminole trying to block a Miami Hurricane, and a second FSU Seminole who seems to want to claim the first Seminole for himself.
“I met him first, so I get to block him!”
So far, all you’ve seen are instances of the Noles blocking themselves in the past few years. But that’s not to suggest they didn’t do it back in the good ole days, too:
That play, from the 2004 Orange Bowl against Miami, may be my favorite. The guy on the right appears to have really dug in. As Jon Gruden would say, he’s really into it, man.
That was the third instance you’ve seen so far against Miami. The Hurricanes appear to have some weird voodoo against FSU, because the Noles have quite a history of blocking each other against them. And even on plays where they’re not actually blocking each other, they’re at least thinking about it:
Or maybe it’s the Orange Bowl game itself that has the weird voodoo against FSU:
Now, it’s time to summarize what we’ve learned today, folks.
FSU linemen like to block each other a lot more than Florida offensive linemen do.
But to be totally fair to the FSU offensive line, it’s not always two Noles who mutually agree to block each other. Sometimes, it’s just one who wants to block his teammate. You saw a couple examples of this earlier. Here’s another one:
And as an addendum to that last line about being totally fair: sometimes, there’s a defender in the area who the linemen are assigned to block. It’s just that sometimes, they wind up misjudging the trajectory of their opponent… and wind up slamming into each other.
Apologies for the awkward camera angle here, but… you see that little gold sphere between the Seminole and Cowboy defender? Yep, that’s another Nole’s helmet. Yep, they’ve slammed into each other and are blocking each other.
Here’s another look at the same play, leaving no doubt as to what they were doing:
And finally: contrary to what I wish was the truth, FSU linemen don’t block each other on literally every play. Sometimes they misjudge where their teammate is going to be, takes the wrong angle toward him and whiffs on the block completely:
I hope Gator fans have enjoyed this little presentation of FSU linemen blocking each other. I also hope Seminole fans will never bring up the Gators blocking each other ever again, because doing so would be one of the most foolish decisions ever made by a college football fan. Now that this extensive collage of evidence has been revealed, FSU shall forever be known as Florida’s Self-Blocking University.