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66 posts from October 2012

October 31, 2012

Snaer Selected Finalist for Senior CLASS Award


Michael Snaer has been named one of 30 finalists for the Senior CLASS award, given to the senior who excels the most both on and off the court as a player and a community leader. Snaer, who is the unquestioned leader of Florida State's men's team, has received loads of accolades and distinctions this pre-season. 

From being selected a preseason All-American by various publications, to telling ESPN he thinks he's the best two-guard in the country, Snaer enters 2012-13 with arguably the highest profile any FSU basketball player has had in years. Maybe ever.

On Wednesday, Snaer received yet another honor when he was nominated as a finalist for the CLASS award. Per a Florida State press release:

"TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Michael Snaer, who led Florida State to the 2012 ACC Championship and who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 ACC Tournament, has been selected as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award – an award that focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

A total of 30 men’s basketball student-athletes who excel both on and off the court have been selected as candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award.  To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.  An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta April 6.

Snaer is one of three players from the ACC to be named to the prestigious list.  He is joined by C.J. Harris of Wake Forest and Mason Plumlee of Duke and is the only player from a school in the state of Florida named to the list."

Snaer and his teammates kick their season off in the Coaches vs. Cancer classic at the end of next week. 

For his part, Snaer seems poised to capitalize on the preseason hype. With the departure of six seniors, FSU has revamped what it does offensively and will feature a much more potent scoring attack than in years past.

“It’s so much better because it plays much more to our strengths," said Snaer. "We’ve got a lot of guards who can get into the lane and score, it plays to our strengths a lot more, I’m excited about it, I’m happy about the changes we made.”

Time will tell if they help Snaer live up to the billing...

October 30, 2012

FSU Wins Exhibition Opener 83-65


Florida State opened its basketball season with the first of two exhibition games– before things really kick off on November 9th– by beating Lincoln Memorial 83-65.

The game was a good opportunity to get some younger guys some minutes while giving the starters the feel of a game atmosphere and tempo for the first time in a while– even if TLCCC was a little empty.

Four players finished with double digit points, Okaro White led the way with four three-pointers and his 19 points and Michael Snaer had 12. Aaron Thomas also added 12 and Terry Whisnant had 11.

White may be somebody to watch this year, he's flown under the radar and granted, this is subpar competition, but he looks quicker and more confident this year after working on that over the off-season White was gym-rat this past summer, spending more time than he had in his first two seasons combined. If White comes on, he could be a dynamic part of the Seminole offense.

The 'Noles offense was good as a whole, it shot 56% from the field and 42% from behind the arc. They've said all preseason that offense won't be a problem for this group and it's possible that it won't. As I said, these games aren't going to tell anyone much because of the disparity in talent. But you can get a little bit of an idea from them.

FSU's offense looked solid, their D was alright and they got off on the right foot. We won't really know where this team is until Brooklyn though.

The second of the two exhibition games takes place November 5th at TLCCC at 7 PM against St. Leo's, then South Alabama comes to town for the start of the Coaches vs. Cancer tourney on the 9th. FSU will host to South Bama and Buffalo before heading to the Barclay center in NYC for the semifinals where they will play BYU in the opening round.

October 29, 2012

More on FSU's Chris Thompson [Extras's From Monday]


Just following up on the print piece that ran this morning on Chris Thompson's continued presence on the Florida State sideline, even despite his injury. Unfortunately space limitations prevent me from using everything in the column, so here's a little addition information. 

I think the quote that sums it up best is this one by James Wilder Jr.

"I know it’s hard for him, it’s hard for any guy who loves the sport like he does. I can tell it’s hard for him to sit out there like that not being able to play when he knows he could be out there helping the team. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s not hurting because he wants to go out there and make stats he’s hurting because he can’t go out there and help the team. That’s what type of guy Chris Thompson is, I mean he’s still going out there we have some injured people that don’t even come... But he’s coming out to practice, coming out on the sideline coaching us up."

Thompson likely needs his teammates as much right now as they need him. Devonta Freeman and Wilder, both sophomores, rely heavily on Thompson for leadership and support. Both have had issues, either with injuries or off the field, where they've been able to turn to Thompson when they needed someone.

To hear them talk about it, they're all like brothers. Which is why it hurt them so much to see him get injured so severely after coming back from something like two broken vertebrae just a year ago. Especially when he was having such an impressive season.

"He’s like another coach, he’s like a coach that been through it lately, been in our position so he knows what it takes and he knows what you have to do to be successful, he was on his way to 1,000 yards and he’s obviously been successful," said Wilder.

But both backs are also painfully aware of the toll this is taking on Thompson.

“I can tell he’s hurting because I know Chris, I’ve seen him happy a lot of times. Like 99% of the times he’s happy, but it was just something today I seen him, like his eyes were getting watery and I could tell he’s just hurting inside. Becuase right now he’s in the position where he doesn’t know where his career’s going to go from now. But I know God’s got a plan for him and he’s going to make it.”

It's a bye week, so things are going to be a little slower than usual, but there should still be plenty to hold you over until next Thursday. Keep checking back...

October 28, 2012

Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe Goes After FSU Coach on Twitter


In what is easily the oddest piece of news today, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe launched into a brief twitter tirade aimed at Florida State strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria.

This was kind of a peripheral story last night, apparently Cutcliffe was miffed by something at the end of Duke's 48-7 loss to FSU and reportedly refused to shake the hands of a couple of coaches. He didn't issue a comment after the game though and was fairly professional in handling the defeat.

Until today that is. Earlier on Twitter Cutcliffe sniped at Viloria a little bit...

Cutcliffe enjoys a very good reputation in most football circles as an amicable guy and a QB guru. He's got a good NFL pedigree, he's churned out some good pros, heck, he's the guy who Peyton Manning worked with this past offseason as he made his comeback.

I even commented last Sunday as I listened to his teleconference that he was a much different breed than a lot of coaches. He takes accountability for his mistakes, he gives thoughtful answers and apparently he doesn't pull punches.

Make what you want of those tweets, but it comes off as petty and unprofessional in the wake of a blowout loss. Viloria is quite animated on sideline, I'm sure seeing him jump around on field for three hours while your team gets beat can wear on you after a while. But it doesn't look good when your takeaway from a 48-7 beatdown is that the opposing team's strength coach was a clown.

There may be more to this story, I'm sure someone will follow up with coaches on both sides. But for now it's just a bizarre pair of insults that comes off looking extremely petty.

Florida State Climbs to 9th in BCS Rankings


The BCS rankings have just been released and Florida State has climbed up to 9th.

Beating Duke, despite the fact they are hardly a strong 6-3, helped the Seminoles with the computer polls which had been hurting Florida State to this point. But the bigger aid was the number of teams ahead of the Seminoles that lost this week.

The 'Noles computer average still isn't good, but games against Virginia Tech and Florida in the coming weeks should help it a little more. So should more losses by top 10 teams. FSU continues to climb steadily from 14 to 12 to 9.

The BCS top ten was:

10.) Louisville

9.) Florida State

8.) South Carolina

7.) Florida

6.) Georgia

5.) LSU

4.) Oregon

3.) Notre Dame

2.) Kansas State

1.) Alabama

 I'll update later tonight once I can look at the breakdown a little more...

Going Polling: FSU 7th in Harris, Coaches', 9th in AP Poll


The polls are out after a busy Saturday of college football and Florida State has climbed a bit in all of them. The Seminoles now sit 7th in the coaches poll (up from 10th), 7th in the Harris poll (up from 10th) and 9th in the AP poll (up from 11). The BCS only considers the Harris and the Coaches' poll.

Ahead of Florida State, Oregon State, Oklahoma, USC and Florida all lost. That opened the door for the Seminoles to jump up in all three polls.

In the coaches' poll, Florida State now sit a spot ahead of the Florida Gators who come in at 8th, Georgia jumped FSU to 6th. The coaches' poll features Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and LSU in its top 5. Clemson is now ranked 9th, no other ACC school received votes. 

The AP poll has the same top five, with Bama, Oregon, K-State, Notre Dame and LSU bringing up the rear. Florida State jumped up two spots, and sits behind UF (8) and ahead of Clemson (10). No other ACC schools (aside from FSU and Clemson) received any AP votes either. 

And in the final poll released before the BCS rankings come out tonight, FSU is up three spots to 7th in the Harris poll. The Harris interactive poll features the same top five as the other two, and has Georgia at sixth (jumping the Seminoles), FSU at 7th, UF at 8th and Clemson 9th. Once again, no other ACC schools received consideration...

I'll be back with an update as soon as the BCS comes out...

Thoughts From the Morning After: FSU 48 Duke 7


So with yesterday's 48-7 homecoming win over Duke now in Florida State's rearview mirror, the Seminoles will head into their first bye week of the season. So far through nine weeks the Seminoles have played nine games. Now they'll play just twice in the next 20 days, sandwiching a Thursday night trip to Virginia Tech between two open weekends.

Florida State needs the rest.

Their toughest road challenge awaits in Blacksburg and if Seminoles fans think a trip to College Park should be uneventful they need only remember Raleigh to be reminded not to make assumptions. Then at the end of the year is Florida– who took their first loss yesterday.

Between the Seminoles' body of work on the road this season and the caliber of UF, the Duke game was the last gimme. Three quarters of the way through the season, the next three games will decide the Atlantic division of the ACC and bragging rights (that come with major recruting ramifications) in the state of Florida.

Anyway, yesterday FSU trounced Duke 48-7 (Seminoles' Fast Start Dooms Duke | Game Notebook).

Here are some thoughts from the morning after...

-I went a little bit negative yesterday in regard to some of the sloppiness in the second half– and in general. But one positive is this, in a game that could have been a letdown, and didn't feature great performances from all of its leaders, FSU still destroyed a 6-2 Duke team. If you think about it, between losing Chris Thompson and EJ Manuel being a little off, FSU could have had a down night offensively. If you check the box score though, it barely showed.

-Lamarcus Joyner got flagged for what looked to be a legal hit down the sideline. The speed of the play and the violence of the collision drew a flag from an official who was 15 yards downfield at the time of the hit, but after the game Lamarcus said he was told he launched which is what drew the flag.

I've said before, this is where Florida State's speed and athleticism and can hurt them. When a Duke safety and a Florida State safety make the same play at full speed it looks different, that's just a fact. The hit, applied with the same technique, at two different speeds just looks different. So at least a few times a year Seminoles fans can just expect to see that call. Without the capacity to let the official take another look, fast, explosive hits are going to draw flags just by virtue of the speed they're made with and how much more violent they look. Nigel Bradham found it out last year, Lamarcus Joyner saw it last night. 

-Nice game for Christian Jones, 11 tackles, three for loss and he was all over the place in coverage. Jimbo Fisher said this week that he thinks Jones is potentially the best pure coverage guy on the team. Surprising both because Jones is a linebacker and because there's NFL talent in the Seminole secondary. Some of what Fisher was referring to was on display on Saturday.

“He had 11 total [tackles] in the game," said Jimbo Fisher. "He was getting out in space. That guy can play when he hits space covering and running. He’s athletic and he can cover and make some big plays in the field with open field tackles.”

Jones tends to get overlooked a little bit because of the front four he plays behind, but NFL scouts are definitely noticing. He's been on a few teams' short lists when they send scouts to Doak. 

-Here's a good example of how the stats can lie a little bit. I mentioned in yesterday's Wrap-up that FSU's front four was as disruptive as any front can be, even without registering a sack. Well here's an example, Tank Carradine registered four hurries, all in the first half. It's easy to say he fell off in the second half, but the defense continued to play at a high level– Carradine included.

They just had to change their approach.

After knocking out Sean Renfree, the Duke offense switched things up to accomodate his replacement, Anthony Boone. That meant rolling out Boone, more designed runs and trying to let their young quarterback have a little room to breathe rather than keep him in the pocket, which is what got to Renfree. FSU still stopped Boone, but the stats were different than they would have been had Renfree not been knocked out.

As for Renfree

“We’ve got some people we have to evaluate. Sean Renfree – we will be evaluating him. He’s not feeling very good at the current time." said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. “It’s [his] head and we will just see where it leads from there. There’s nothing much you can say. That’s a circumstance for the doctor’s to manage. You’ve got laws and everything else. That’s kind of what I can say.”

-Nice bounce-back game for Florida State's running backs after an emotional week. Devonta Freeman ended up carrying the load with 12 carries for 104 yards and a couple touchdowns.  It did look a lot different though, gone was Chris Thompson's explosive style. It was replaced by Freeman's which is best described as violent. He's not faster than Thompson, nor quicker (though that's not to say he's not fast), but he revels in contact and at 5-9, runs very low to the ground and with considerable force.

James Wilder was solid too, netting 70 yards on 13 carries and adding a touchdown of his own. The two backs handled duties well, but Thompson's absence was definitely felt.

“I thought they were good. In pass pro they were good and running the ball," said Fisher. "I think the only bad thing was Devonta put the ball on the ground at the end. But that [kid] was running it, he had a nice trap down there on a third and 10, he had nice balance. Quick. James was running for powerful third down runs. I thought they had an outstanding day.”

-Thompson was on the sideline for the game, he did wan't to stand along the edge of the field for fear he'd get bowled over (he's on crutches). He sat behind the linemen on the bench where the running backs usually meet and was like a second coach all game. 

I'm going to do a whole write-up on this later today, but a quick note for now... Both Freeman and Wilder raved about how it helped to have Thompson out there. You can tell both guys look up to Chris for different reasons and they still need him. And it's likely Thompson needs his teammates now too. Wilder put it best when he told me a lot of guys get hurt and disappear. Not Thompson.

I'll be back later today to update on the polls, the BCS and I'll have a couple more follow-ups...

October 27, 2012

Play of the Game: Rashad Greene's 71-yard Touchdown


On Duke's opening possession they showed some confidence, a little bit of grit, grinding out a couple of first downs before punting to Florida State and giving them a long field to work with. It wasn't a score, but it did a reasonable job of flipping field position and it showed the Seminoles that this Blue Devil team had some fight.

All season Duke had fought and scrapped and won. And now at 6-2, bowl eligible and sitting atop the ACC Atlantic they were looking to end their most ominous football streak, 17-straight losses to Florida State.

There are no moral victories in football, but Duke didn't succumb to the Florida State defense when they took the ball, they gained 28 yards, a couple of first downs and looked to stand tall on defense after punting. 

Three plays later all of that was over.

After failed gadget play and an incomplete pass to James Wilder in the flat, EJ Manuel found Rashad Greene for a 71-yard touchdown to open the scoring and all but end Duke's chances. The play was relevent for a couple of reasons.

First, it was a clear-cut demonstration of the disparity in talent. Rashad Greene split through the Blue Devil secondary with ease. It was an obvious passing down but he took the lid off the coverage effortlessly and had a few steps when he hauled the pass in. By the time he got to the end zone he barely looked to be running. There was little doubt which side had the better athletes.

In just three plays Florida State traversed the entire field and did what it would later take Duke 14 plays and a couple of 15-yard penalties to do, scored.

After getting people across the nation to lean forward a little after an exciting win over UNC got them bowl eligible, it took Florida State's offense less than a minute to remind people, 'it's still Duke.'

Where the play really won though was in what it did to Duke mentally. The game wasn't over, Duke wasn't psychologically beat at that point. No one is in insinuating they packed it in. But after getting burnt deep on the opening series, that play struck mortal fear into the Duke defense the rest of the game.

That play changed the entire complexion of the game.

EJ Manuel was not that impressive on Saturday, he was 8 of 16 for 282 yards and a couple of touchdowns, but he was never 'on' so to speak. When Manuel plays his best game he's extremely impressive, he didn't really have it on Saturday but he did connect on four passes of 25 yards or more.

“We definitely took advantage of the plays we saw down field. The receivers did a great job, the o-line gave us some time to get down there and make some plays down field," said Manuel. "I wish my (completion) percentage was a lot better but we were still able to make some plays.”

Duke wasn't so much scared of Manuel for the game he was playing as they were scared of Florida State's ability to throw deep.

If you take out the passes that went 25+ yards, Manuel was even more unremarkable. This was one of the weaker passing games Florida State's offense has had. But the threat of that deep ball kept Duke from loading the box to attack the run. It loosened things up for Devonta Freeman and James Wilder. 

“(It helped) tremendously," added Manuel. "A lot of those gaps, those guys were able to cut back. They were trying to play me on my fakes and things like that on the boot leg, so that kind of opened up the cut backs for our backs. They did a great job of seeing it.”

Without Florida State connecting on that deep pass to open things, with the game EJ Manuel did play, it's possible Duke defends Florida State's rushing attack a little differently and at least stays close for a while. Duke wasn't going to beat FSU, they were out-classed, but immediately demonstrating an ability to beat Duke deep made things even easier for Florida State on Saturday.

And I'm not trying to pile on Manuel, Duke did some different things coverage-wise and he also had to deal with some drops. But the game Manuel played Saturday versus the respect he got from the Duke defense were quite different. And that made a world of difference in how well the run game worked.

Florida State had been averaging 55 points and 600+ yards of offense, they were a hair below against Duke but had another great day, hanging 48 and 560. 

But no points were as important as the first seven. 

Wrapping Up: FSU 48 Duke 7


Coming into this afternoon's game, Florida State was flying at a certain trajectory in Doak Campbell Stadium. The defense was holding opposing teams to about one score per contest while the offense typically hung 55 points and over 600 yards.

As of Saturday night, even without their best performance, Florida State was right at those benchmarks. The Seminole offense ran up 560 yards of offense and 48 points against the Blue Devils, right on their average home pace.

The disconcerting aspect of Florida State's season has been, and continues to be their performance on the road. After their first Saturday off this upcoming weekend, Florida State gets their toughest road test of the year in Blacksburg in 12 days. 

Go ahead and toss Virginia Tech's record out the window, the Hokies are in the thick of the ACC hunt. Virginia Tech can still drop their games to FSU and Clemson and win the ACC Atlantic if they knock off Miami next month, but a win over FSU would put Virginia Tech's season officially back on track.

Given how hungry Virginia Tech usually plays at Lane Stadium and how hapless Florida State has looked at times on the road this year- some of the Seminoles' miscues in the second half become even more glaring.

"We had a little lapse," said Jimbo Fisher. "We put a punt on the ground- took our eyes off it trying to make a big play. EJ had a fumble on a loose ball. It was a shame Rodney had one one a big play down the field, waving the ball. We come out and do ball security at the beginning of every practice. We're going to fix that."

Good, because that will bite the Seminoles in the rear end if they don't. I've said all year that Virginia Tech doesn't start playing their best football until winning the ACC would embarrass the conference. That means that the Hokies should be rounding into shape around the time Florida State shows up.

The Seminoles were as good as they wanted to be on Saturday, but in the second half you could see them losing interest. A lot of the little mistakes that were made were preventable mental lapses that good teams typically don't make. That won't fly in Blacksburg.

I don't want to just dwell on just the miscues in the second half, but they are worth spending a little bit of time on. FSU out-classed Duke in this game, but down the stretch when they should have had killer instinct, they got a little sloppy.

It didn't matter against Duke, it will against Virginia Tech. Florida State has to work on staying sharp and focused. They cannot afford to lose the killer instinct again this season.

No Sacks

One of the other things that caught me by surprise on the stat sheet was that Florida State didn't register a sack. I'm not sure that's how Sean Renfree will remember this game though, he was hit a lot by FSU's defensive line until finally being knocked out of the game by Karlos Williams. 

Duke had a couple of pretty good receivers, Conner Vernon will eventually become the all-time ACC receiving leader (though not today), but against Florida State the Duke air attack was hapless. Vernon caught three balls for 12 yards, the most any Duke receiver hauled in was four catches for 38 yards. Florida State wasn't getting sacks on Saturday but they were applying consistent pressure, forcing bad throws and hitting the quarterback. 

Essentially, the Florida State defensive front was as disruptive as one can humanly be without actually collecting any sacks. 

The Punt Return Problem

It's not really a problem so much as it is a concern. Tyler Hunter wowed fans in the first half with a 75-yard punt return touchdown. It was his first game returning punts after replacing Rashad Greene this week. This marks the first time in FSU history that two different players have returned a punt for a touchdown, but as Jimbo Fisher reminds everyone on a weekly basis, the first job of any punt returner is to field the ball.

And that's still an issue for the Seminoles.

"[Tyler] had a great day," said Fisher. "If you watch the punt [he muffed], he was looking at it and all of a sudden he looks down real quick. First job as a punt returner is not to return it, but to catch it. That's what we've got to remember and I think we got a little greedy. I still think he had a good day, but that's inexcusable and we've got to get it fixed."

In a way, this issue is a microcosm for Florida State's entire team, heck, their entire season. 

With both Hunter and Greene, once the ball is in their hands they're as dangerous as anyone in the entire country, but the simple act of just fielding the punt still gives them problems. They nail the hard stuff, stumble over the simple things.

Essentially once the ball's in their hands they can score on any play, it's just a matter of catching that pesky thing... It's not unlike taking Clemson's best shot and then dismantling them in response one week and then dropping a winnable game against NC State the next... It's all about consistency.

I'll be back with more coverage tonight and tomorrow, keep checking back...

Rapid Reaction: FSU 48 Duke 7


This game was essentially over at the end of the first quarter when Florida State was up 17-0, it was completely out of reach by the half when the Seminoles lead 31-7.

The rest of the game was dominated by Florida State as they battled their own lack of interest throughout much of the second half.

I feel like I've written this at least three or four times this season, but the final score of this game was not indicative of how it was played. While there were many things for Florida State to hang their hats on in the first half, the second half revealed a side of the Seminoles that has plagued them all season. For the first time at home, FSU came out complacent at home in the second half.

Now, it didn't hurt FSU tonight. I want to give a ton of respect to Duke for the season they've had, but the writing is on the wall. They just aren't a great football team. 

Case in point, at one point at the end of the 3rd quarter, EJ Manuel was 6-14 and yet the Seminoles lead by 38 points. That's not something that David Cutcliffe and Duke will be happy about come Monday.

Florida State on several occasions tried to gift Duke momentum. Fumbles from EJ Manuel, Tyler Hunter, Rodney Smith and Devonta Freeman, all gave Duke the ball back with good field position. The fact Duke could only muster seven points says more about them than it does Florida State.

For the Seminoles' part, they should have paid for several of their mistakes. While I'm not sure they made enough to cost them a game against a better team, they also aren't going to learn from many of them because Duke couldn't make the Seminoles pay.

Mistakes can be useful at the end of a game. If a young guy makes a gaffe in garbage time its a great teachable moment. But when key players make the kinds of mistakes FSU made at the end of tonight's game, and they're not held accountable, it can be a troubling trend. I'm not sure Florida State learned enough of a lesson for any of their mistakes tonight.

One or two fumbles is one thing, but Florida State legitimately looked to have lost interest at points in the second half and their sloppy play more or less confirmed that. Against Duke, FSU can get away with that. Against a better team, that could cost the Seminoles another game.

Defensively the 'Noles were solid. With the exception of the 90-yard touchdown drive they surrendered in the second quarter, Duke failed to establish any momentum on offense. Duke QB Sean Renfree was beaten, battered and ultimately concussed before being replaced by Anthony Boone in the third quarter.

The Florida State run game was the bright spot on Saturday, despite some issues moving the ball in the air Florida State had no trouble moving it on the ground to the tune of 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. In their first game without Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman both scored and Duke had no answer for the FSU ground game most of the afternoon.

I'll be back up with more after I talk to players and coaches. I'm defnitely interested to hear what was going on today with EJ Manuel and the passing game. There never seemed to be any rhythm, but Florida State didn't seem to mind much today. 

That will be a concern moving forward though...

Statistical Leaders

Passing: EJ Manuel (8-16, 282, 2TD)

Rushing: Devonta Freeman (12-104, 2TD)

Receiving: Rodney Smith (3-112)



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