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4 posts from October 6, 2012

October 06, 2012

Rapid Reaction: NC State 17 Florida State 16

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Well go ahead and cross Florida State off the list of national title contenders. The Seminoles should expect to plummet down the rankings. At best they can hope that other top teams losing will cushion their fall a little and they'll stay in the top 12, at worst they'll be in the back end of the teens or even high 20's. 

After playing a poor first half offensively, the Seminoles came out and laid an egg in the second half. As in zero points, 120 total yards and very little sense of purpose.

I wouldn't expect great turnout at Doak Campbell the next time Florida State comes home, reading the rapid reaction on twitter and across the internet, this is the kind of loss that's going to send a large contingent of the fanbase for the exits. After a decade of mediocrity, a mistake-filled second half of action against an overmatched NC State team is not going to engender a ton of good will from some fans.

Others will stick by their team, but either way expect the national media to turn sharply against Florida State for failing to live up to the "we're back" hype.

In the same day UF downed a top-4 LSU team and announced they were back to the country, the Seminoles fell in the night cap and the writing is on the wall once again that they are not.

This Florida State team is still extremely talented, there is no lack of ability on both sides of the ball, but their national title hopes are done and an ACC Championship and Orange Bowl berth is likely going to be a best case scenario.

Looking at the game, before even delving into the stats it comes down to two plays. Two key plays.

Well before that, Florida State should have never let it be this close, so ignoring the obvious fact that the Seminoles let NC State hang around and make it a game, they also let it come down to two huge key plays. The first came with about ten minutes left in the fourth quarter when EJ Manuel spun backwards and took a 15-yard sack to knock Florida State out of field goal range. Jimbo Fisher got conservative, opted to punt instead of attempt a 52-yard field goal, and instead of potentially going up 19-10, instead the game stayed within six points.

The second, was the second blocked punt in as many weeks. This time it was only partial, but the difference was probably about 35-40 yards. Instead NC State took over in Florida State territory with just enough time to score. Jimbo Fisher said this week you lose 80% of the games you have a punt blocked against you. The 'Noles dodged a bullet last week, this week the odds caught them.

Either way, this is a devastating loss to the Florida State program as a whole. Without a ton of marquee games to right the ship, with Virginia Tech and Miami losing today and with UF facing a tough road, FSU could end up as a one-loss team and barely crack the title conversation again. 

If UF can win out and FSU can follow suit, an end of season matchup between an unbeaten UF and a one-loss FSU team could give Florida State a shot. But frankly, that's unlikely. 

Odds are the lights went out on Florida State's national title hopes this evening.

Halftime: FSU 16 NC State 0

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Once again, Florida State's offense has struggled to find rhythm but their defense has been extremely good as the Seminoles are out to a 16-0 lead. The Florida State offense has missed a few chances, a missed pass here, a missed check there. But they have had success on the ground when they've managed to get out of their own way.

Chris Thompson is becoming one of the most dynamic backs Florida State has had in a while. I know EJ Manuel is the Heisman contender, but Thompson is much more explosive. Everytime Thompson touches the ball it's like he's being shot out of a cannon. He's already over 100 yards in the first half and he's taken a few hits, but if he keeps running like this it may behoove Florida State to just ride him the rest of the way.

I'd say Thompson is the most talented runner the Seminoles have had since at least Leon Washington. 

On the line, Daniel Glauser has been in at right tackle some. The line and the backs and tight ends have had some issues with blitz pickups and pass pro, it's cost the Seminoles in a few places on offense.

Mostly, the Seminoles have struggled near the red zone, twice in the second quarter they failed to punch it in deep down in NC State territory. Dustin Hopkins is three for three, but Florida State needs touchdowns. Field goals let NC State hang around.

Defensively though, this is the kind of performance that fans were hoping for. The 'Noles have been swarming, their defensive line has been absolutely fearsome and they are keeping Mike Glennon and the NC State passing attack well under control.

In the second half the 'Noles need to keep it up on defense and just settle down on offense. The run game has been there, the passing game is there when the protection holds up. Florida State is in a good position as long as they keep their wits about them and keep playing their game.

Leaders:

Passing: EJ Manuel 11-15, 117, TD

Rushing: Chris Thompson 14-115

Receiving: Rashad Greene 4-44

Pregame: FSU at NC State

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We're a little over an hour and a half from kickoff between the no. 3 Florida State Seminoles and their ACC divisional foe NC State. The Wolfpack enter tonight's game with questions up front on their O-line and with some issues in their defensive backfield. Both are areas the Seminoles will look to exploit. 

Florida State leads this series all-time 22-10, but is just 9-6 when playing in Raleigh. The 'Noles have won three of the last four against the Wolfpack, but just one of the past three on the road. 

Last season, the 'Noles won 34-0 and held NC State QB Mike Glennon to just 130 yards on 19-34 passing and also picked him off twice. It was the worst start, yardage-wise, of his career. This year Florida State will once again look to limit Glennon and get after him with their pass rush.

Florida State should come out on top in this one if they just stay calm and play their game. That's much easier said than done though.

Here are few items for pre-game reading pleasure. Also check back a few days on the blog if you're looking for even more...

Here's a look at the Florida State injury list

Here's three things to watch for tonight

Here's a preview of tonight's game

Weather: It's mostly cloudy, the night will start in the 70's and end in the mid-60's so temperature will not be an issue. With just a 10-15% chance of rain, it should be a great night for football.

TV: ESPN 2, 8:00 PM

Announcers: Mark Jones (Play-by-Play), Brock Huard (Color), Jessica Mendoza (Sideline)

Check back at halftime for news and updates.

 

Three Things to Watch For: FSU at NC State

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Tonight's game against NC State will be the Seminoles' first true road test. It's a game they should win on paper, but you never know in college football and a hostile crowd can do a lot in a game like this. 

As the Seminoles have said all week, the difficulties in last week's road trip to Tampa were a good learning experience for this team.

"There’s no need for talk, they understand, last week was a good lesson because we could have lost that because of all of the mistakes we made on offense, defense and special teams," Toshmon Stevens said earlier this week. 

This week, with the student section right on top of the sideline and a loud stadium rooting against them, Florida State will need to manage its emotions.

"Everybody knows what we’re here for, it’s a business trip," said Stevens. "We’re trying to conduct ourselves that way, it does get emotional but we try to keep ourselves calm because if our emotions play any part in the game we have a chance of losing."

That chance, that the Seminoles might trip themselves up in a tough environment, may be the Wolfpack's best shot tonight. Here are three things to watch for...

1.) Florida State's Composure

The Seminoles have the ability to be their own biggest enemy. When they play under control, stay within the gameplan and just make plays they are one of the top five teams in the country. But fans have also seen that this team has a propensity to make mistakes at key moments. Muffed punts, blocked punts, holds on big runs and drive killing breakdowns in pass-pro have all halted momentum for Florida State this year. Granted, they've dodged almost every bullet so far, but on the road with the crowd in the game the Seminoles can't afford any mistakes. If the 'Noles can't keep their heads, if they start going for the big hits and making mental errors, things could be more difficult than expected.

2.) NC State's Offensive Line vs. Florida State's Defensive Line

NC State is down to just two of its original starters, they've had five different configurations of linemen start this season and for a unit that requires cohesion, that's a problem. Florida State's defensive line is not without a few of its own casualties, Brandon Jenkins went down in week one and this week the team announced Chris Casher and Jacobbi McDaniel would indeed miss the year. The difference is depth. The 'Noles have a deep rotation at both end and tackle, the Wolfpack don't. Look for Florida State to pin their ears back and come after Mike Glennon.

3.) Florida State's Rushing Attack vs. NC State's Defense

The obvious matchup would be the receivers against the NC State secondary. But after getting scorched last week and in week one, you know the Wolfpack worked on coverage leading up to this one and they're not going to want to get beat in the air. Florida State needs to establish its rushing attack and force the Wolfpack to walk a man up into the box. Confidence is not going to be at a premium for this secondary, I doubt NC State is going to start the game loading the box. The Seminoles need to take advantage of this, gash the Wolfpack early and then take their shots. Keep in mind, NC State can chuck the ball too, so keeping their offense off the field is another way to keep the pass-rushers fresh and limit what the Wolfpack can do. As much as fans want to see the big passing numbers, the run game will likely be more important.


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