Film Focus: Sean Maguire vs. Florida

As redshirt junior Sean Maguire gets set to make his first bowl start against Houston in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, we look back at how he performed in FSU’s final regular season game. Against rival Florida on Nov. 28. Maguire finished 14-for-28 passing for 160 yards and a score in FSU’s 27-2 victory, but could his night have been better? We take a look at the film.

1st Quarter

12:06 – Maguire has an open receiver with Ermon Lane in between two defenders about 15 yards downfield. Problem is that left tackle Roderick Johnson and running back Dalvin Cook do a poor job of blocking Florida’s Bryan Cox (No. 94) coming off the edge. Partially a good play by Cox, partially bad blocking by Johnson and Cook. Cox comes in either way and hits Maguire, disrupting the pass and making it hit dirt long before its intended target.

9:30 – A rollout on the play-action goes for little yardage. Florida’s defense had this sniffed out right from the start. A shaky throw from Maguire to Cook did not help it develop either.

8:53 – A quick out pass to Ryan Izzo is dropped. Maguire hit him right in the numbers so it’s not the quarterback’s fault on this one. Though Maguire did have two open receivers on the left side of the field: Both Cook and Travis Rudolph had enough room to make something happen. It looks like the pass was intended to be a quick one since Maguire went straight to Izzo.

8:46 – Maguire does a very good job of standing tall in the pocket and getting a pass off in the face of a blitz from Jarrad Davis (No. 40). He had Rudolph open, but he slightly overthrows a very tough pass to make. The result wasn’t positive, but it’s at least refreshing to see a quarterback not panic the minute he feels the protection starting to shrink.

2:59 – Despite a bad snap, Maguire is able to recover and finish the play. Problem is that he didn’t choose the best option available. He throws a dump-off to Cook on the right side which gets stopped immediately for no gain. Meanwhile, Ermon Lane was wide open while crossing on the left side. Either these are intended quick passes, or Maguire is locking onto a target before the play starts.

2:25 – The bootleg pass works perfectly for Florida State, drawing all the Florida defenders to the left side of the field while Izzo and Cook run free to the right. Maguire squares up and delivers a perfect ball across the field, hitting Izzo in stride for a gain of 29 yards.

:24 – Many were quick to blame Ermon Lane for a drop on this play, but on further review, this is just a poor pass by Maguire. He had enough time in the pocket to deliver a clean ball. He just doesn’t seem to put his full momentum into the pass, causing it to go low on Lane and falling incomplete. Either way, it would not have been enough for a first down.

First Quarter Summary: Some early game jitters were apparent with Maguire in the first quarter of this one. He had at least one open receiver and a (fairly) clean pocket on most of these plays, but for whatever reason he was unable to deliver a good pass. The upside is that he didn’t make too many game-altering mistakes like an interception or a fumble.

2nd Quarter

13:32 – Jesus Wilson is open on a quick slant across the middle here and Maguire throws a bad pass that falls to the ground. Not only was the pass a bit high and behind the receiver, it was a bullet from five yards away. A rough start so far from the junior quarterback.

12:53 – It’s hard to blame Maguire too much on this play. Cook is unable to pick up the blitz coming from the left side, so Maguire has to get rid of it prematurely after seeing the defender coming in hot. No receivers are open either, so the pass falls incomplete after Ermon Lane’s defender bats it away.

10:42 – Another bootleg that successfully gets a receiver open. Maguire unfortunately throws it low to the outside where Wilson can’t get control of it. Another bad incompletion.

10:06 – Fisher finally shows some play-action and it works to perfection. Maguire plants his feet and finds Kermit Whitfield for a 45-yard gain. A great pass from the quarterback that really marks a turning point for his performance on the night.

9:32 – Not too many good options on this play since all the receivers are covered pretty well. Instead of trying to risk something this close to the end zone, Maguire tries to float it over the top and see if his receiver can get a hold of it. It’s too high and falls incomplete.

9:26 – This is a hard play to judge because of the result. A tight pass on the inside gets caught by Whitfield and probably goes for a touchdown if the referee is not in the way. But if Maguire had waited half a second longer, he had Rudolph wide open coming across from the right since Florida Vernon Hargreaves III (No. 1) slipped on the play. The catch puts the Seminoles about a foot from the end zone.

7:54 – The play that had everyone talking the next morning occurs here. Aptly described by some as the “first ever Hail Mary from the 1”, Maguire rolls out to the right on a play-action and escapes the pressure from Cece Jefferson (No. 96). From the looks of the broadcast angle, Maguire probably should have kept running to the pylon and punched it in for the score. Instead he somehow finds Jeremy Kerr in the end zone and throws across his body straight to the tight end. A miraculous touchdown catch is made in between two Florida defenders, and quite frankly, it’s difficult to be mad with the end result. It was a bad decision to throw probably…but the pass was perfectly placed.

6:40 – An incredibly dangerous throw in between three defenders somehow hits the hands of Izzo for a 7-yard gain. Brian Poole (No. 24) is on Rudolph and reads Maguire’s eyes the whole way, which is why he’s able to leave his man and go for the ball. Good pass by the quarterback to fit it in there, but probably not the best decision.

5:57 – If there is one word to describe Maguire so far in this game, it’s “fearless”. He airs this one out to Rudolph streaking down the left side of the field, but the safety Marcus Maye (No. 20) is able to come over and break it up. If it was just a little more to the outside, it’s a huge reception. Only other option on the play was the tight end who was a little late getting off his block.

3:18 – This is a precision throw to Wilson on the play-action. He fits it right to the outside where only Bobo can get it, picking up eight yards.

2:03 – Absolutely everyone is covered on this play, even Cook coming out of the backfield. Maguire tries to force an errant pass on the slant to Rudolph that gets batted down immediately. He’s lucky that it wasn’t intercepted.

Second Quarter Summary: Maguire really started to heat up this quarter and began to make better throws. There were a couple head-scratchers, but overall he got into a rhythm and was able to fit the ball into some tight spaces without getting picked off. His lone touchdown throw came in this quarter on the absurd 4th-and-goal play, and his longest pass play was here as well with the 45-yard one to Whitfield. At the halfway mark, he was 8-for-18 passing for 98 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.

3rd Quarter

15:00 – The play-action does not work on this one and the Florida defense sticks to its assignments. Maguire has all the time in the world to throw, but all of his receivers are blanketed. Once again he tries to fit the ball in between multiple defenders, but somehow it does not get intercepted. Some of this is luck and some of it is how Maguire throws it so hard, though some of the Florida defensive backs are looking at the tape and kicking themselves for missing what could have been a game changing interception.

14:10 – Wilson going in motion across the backfield does not fool anyone on this play. No open receivers and incoming defenders forces Maguire to get rid of the ball, causing an intentional grounding penalty.

9:27 – Maguire makes a good decision to throw to an open Rudolph over the middle. The pass was a little forceful, but there’s no reason for Rudolph to drop this one. It counts as an incompletion, but the quarterback is not to blame on this one.

9:21 – It seems that Wilson goes too wide in motion here, or at least acts as a decoy on the play. The only open choice is a dump off to Dalvin Cook. Despite getting hit near the sideline, Cook is able to stay upright and run for a first down. It’s an amazing feat of athleticism made possible by a good pass from the quarterback.

8:23 – A short pass to Wilson is good for a gain of around six yards. Good throw from Maguire to an open receiver, though Cook running across the middle may have had some room ahead for a big play. Still a positive result.

7:45 – The Gators’ secondary does a poor job here of keeping the receivers in check. Rudolph, Lane, and Whitfield all have a good amount of separation from their defenders. Maguire chooses to go for the big play, hitting Rudolph on an inside post for 22 yards. A rare breakdown in coverage allows the Seminoles to extend the drive.

5:52 – Wilson gets yet another catch on a quick out for three yards. It was either him or Izzo, and both had players right behind them. It’s a completion for a couple yards short of the first down. This is more a result of the play call than anything.

Third Quarter Summary: The Florida secondary really tightened up in this quarter and forced Maguire to hold back his arm a bit. That being said, he only had one pass which could be considered a bad decision. The mid-quarter drive showed some good rhythm from the junior signal-caller and was essential in furthering the lead to 13-0. Maguire only has four more attempts left to grade in this game.

4th Quarter

12:51 – Wilson goes on a short slant and Maguire rifles it in for a gain of about six yards. Simple play call with a good result.

12:18 – Maguire realizes too late that none of his receivers are open, allowing the defense to close in on the dump-off option and knock down his pass. Two things stick out on this play: the first is that Kermit Whitfield gets blatantly held by Duke Dawson (No. 7) and if Maguire had tried to throw it to him, the referees would have had to call a holding or pass interference. The second is that Jarrad Davis goes for a cheap shot on Cook way after the rest of the players realize the play is dead. Maguire probably should have hit Cook in the flat at the beginning, but it’s easy to see how he might have gotten flustered when looking at the action over the middle.

12:12 – The pass-rush forces Maguire to roll out to the right, where he throws the ball away after being met by a defender. It’s hard to recover a play when it starts out with a scramble, so the outcome isn’t totally on Maguire here.

9:13 – Florida gets its lone two points on this circus of a play. Cece Jefferson comes around the right edge completely untouched, and the Maguire realizes it too late. A failed protection certainly — though in hindsight he probably should have taken the sack. The bright side is that Maguire recovers the fumble in the end zone before the Gators can score a touchdown. As weird as it sounds, such a play might have saved the game for the Seminoles.

7:46 – Maguire’s final attempt is a beauty to Wilson by the left sideline. He stands tall in the pocket and delivers it right where he needs to for his receiver to make the catch and stay in bounds.

Fourth Quarter Summary: Maguire probably wants to forget a couple of these plays, but he still finished strong despite a disaster of a fumble. There isn’t too much to grade him on here, so we’ll just go straight to the overall analysis.

Overall: Florida State knew coming in to the game that it couldn’t rely on its passing for a victory. However, it also knew that the Gator defense would be forced to respect the deep ball, hopefully resulting in easier running lanes for Cook. That may not have happened initially. But by the time the fourth quarter had rolled around, it was clear that their defense was struggling to contain both.

In this respect, Maguire did his job. He had four passes that went for 20-plus yards, which in this game was a make-or-break type of play. His ability to fit the ball into tight spaces meant that the Florida defenders would have to try and stay close to their assignments. When one was able to break free, Maguire largely hit them in stride. Perhaps the biggest negative with him is the tendency to go for the home run ball. While we love to see the successes, there are some plays where Maguire misses an open man or better option.

Luckily, the Florida defensive backs were never able to haul in an interception, even if some of the passes were in reach. Maguire did his job and he did it admirably. Perhaps nothing else was more encouraging than to see him step up in front of a record-setting attendance in The Swamp. Whereas other quarterbacks might have faltered and reeled back their passing, Maguire refused to be intimidated. It may not have been flashy or a legendary performance — but his play ultimately helped FSU win the game. That’s about all you can ask for.

About Clint Eiland

Clint Eiland is a current FSU student looking for a degree in communications and classics. Clint has broadcasted games since high school, where he set up an organization that worked with local groups (Fox, BrightHouse, FHSAA) to stream high school athletic events on the internet. Clint currently contributes to Noled Out and is the Chief Anchor of the sports department at v89, the campus radio station. Readers can tune in every Monday at 7:00 on the v89 website to hear Tomahawk Talk, where Clint is a frequent guest panelist. Clint is a more recent fan, having followed FSU back in 2009 when a family member attended the university and recommended it. You can follow Clint on twitter @ClintEiland.