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4 posts from October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012

Rapid Reaction: FSU 33 Miami 20

Florida-state-seminoles

That was not a pretty win, but a win is a win. Especially against the Miami Hurricanes on the road. Florida State fans need to give Miami a lot of credit. They really did give FSU their best shot and had the Seminoles on the ropes early. 

I already mentioned just how abysmal Florida State played in the first half, I highlighted it in the halftime update and it's going to be my sidebar in tomorrow's paper. Florida State could not have played much more poorly over the first two quarters than they did.

Things got better in the second half, but marginally so. Florida State still finished the game with over 100 yards in penalties (12-121), fumbled the ball five times and made a whole range of mistakes that absolutely stymied their offense.

Once again, Florida State's offense looks like it forgot to board the bus in Tallahassee. The Seminoles came into the game averaging 23 points per contest on the road, they were about on par today (save a late Devonta Freeman touchdown to put them up to 33).

Defensively though, Florida State was solid. Stephen Morris was uncomfortable throughout most of the day and Miami's offense could only muster 228 yards, 75 of which came on a meaningless final drive down three scores in the fourth quarter.

For all intents and purposes, FSU limited Miami to just 175 yards, including just 29 yards rushing. The 'Noles knocked freshman phemon Duke Johnson out of the game and stopped Mike James from getting going. They also notched four sacks and picked off Stephen Morris. 

The Chris Thompson loss is probably the most disconcerting part of this game, while the Seminoles will undoubtedly have to answer for their inconsistency on the road, losing Chris Thompson means the Seminoles could potentially be without their most explosive weapon down the stretch.

You can't help but feel for Thompson, who ended the day on the sideline with crutches. After breaking two vertebrae in his back last season, he fought back and has been huge for FSU this year. Football notwithstanding, Thompson is just a good kid who works hard and is a leader on the Florida State team both on and off the field. He would be a huge loss.

The Seminoles really didn't blow this one wide open until the second half when their depth and experience helped them pull away from the Hurricanes. Down 13 with about five minutes left the Hurricanes finally imploded with penalties before a Bjoern Werner sack iced the game.

Devonta Freeman punched in another TD to put FSU up 33-13 at the end of the game. A late Hurricanes TD made it 33-20, but the games was done by that point.

There's a lot to break down tonight, Florida State's penalties, Devonta Freeman's homecoming performance, Chris Thompson's injury, the Seminoles' offensive road woes and whether or not Jimbo Fisher burst a blood vessel yelling at the officials.

Halftime: FSU 13 Miami 10

Florida-state-seminoles

Florida State just dodged a bit of a bullet in the first half. Nine penalties, 82 yards, five fumbles, two lost. Yet right now the Seminoles lead the Hurricanes 13-10.

I said earlier that Miami was going to come out swinging and boy did they ever. Florida State made plenty of mistakes but the Hurricanes came out amped up and ready to go. It was 10-0 within the first seven and a half minutes. 

Florida State started to get a grip on it after that though. The Seminoles have now reeled of 13 straight points and are going to get the ball to start the second half.

The last ten seconds of the second quarter were one of the most uniquely blown moments I've ever seen. ACC officials ended the half on a ten second run-off after a Florida State penalty, ignoring the fact FSU had a timeout that they could use to stop said run-off. After Jimbo Fisher explained how to officiate football to the refs, they called the Hurricanes back out of the tunnel and Dustin Hopkins booted a field goal.

Very strange end to the half.

Chris Thompson is Florida State's big casualty for today. After catching a 32-yard pass down the sideline, Thompson's foot got caught in the turf as he was tackled and he's done for the rest of the day with a bum left knee. You can't help but feel for Thompson, he's been through so much that for him to go down like this is almost cruel. Hopefully Thompson will be back this year.

As for the the second half, Florida State needs to continue to take hold of this game. Miami is scrappy, they're giving the 'Noles their best shot, but FSU couldn't have played a worse first half of football and they still lead. If the Seminoles can come out and play like that team that wears Garnet up in Tallahassee some Saturdays, they should have no problem in the second half.

But it would not behoove the Seminoles to let Miami hang around in this one. Miami can make a big play here or there, they haven't yet but that potential is certainly there. The Noles need to make sure that Miami isn't a big play or two from the lead in this one or they may end up with another result like NC State.

Statistical Leaders

Passing: EJ Manuel (12-19, 134)

Rushing: Chris Thompson* (7-47)

Receiving: Chris Thompson* (2-47)

*Thompson will not return

Pregame: FSU at Miami

SunLife

Just got into the box at Sun Life Stadium to set up for the start of the Florida State-Miami game at 8 PM. We're a little over two hours from kick and the gates haven't even opened up, but the parking lot is packed and there should be a solid crowd here today.

Florida State and Miami come into this game with vastly different outlooks. This is a big game for Miami, they can gain a big in-state win against a rival and improve their record to 5-3 on the year. Miami, quite frankly has an awful lot to play for today.

Florida State on the other hand really doesn't stand to gain a whole lot from winning this one outside of bragging rights. Don't get me wrong, FSU-Miami is always a big game, but for Florida State this is more about taking care of business, winning one on the road, than it is about an all-important season-defining one-off with a rival.

I fully expect the Canes to come out on fire and give the Seminoles their best shot out of the gates. How Florida State comes out of the tunnel will determine a lot. The 'Noles are three score favorites in this one and as the game continues and they start getting into depth, Florida State will begin to gain a solid advantage.

But Miami is a better team than Seminoles fans give them credit for. They can make a play or two and if they can get a little bit of momentum, they could make a game out of this.

For Florida State, if they play the game they're capable of and don't try to go above and beyond their responsibilities, they shouldn't have a problem winning this one. But this is a trap game, Florida State could trip up if they don't have the right mindset. It all comes down to the Seminoles' temperment tonight. 

If they've prepared well all week and come out focused, this one will go Seminoles. If not, if Miami can score early and make it tight, Jimbo Fisher might have some questions to answer Monday.

TV: ABC

Announcers: Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (color), Heather Cox (sideline)

Three Things to Watch For: FSU at Miami

Ncf_u_miafsu_576

We're getting ready for Florida State and Miami to kick things off and as usual, I have three things to watch for in tonight's matchup. As I've said all week, this is a matchup that is as much about Florida State playing their own game, as it is about playing Miami. 

The Seminoles have been a much different team on the road in 2012. At home, they're 5-0 averaging 55 points per game. On the road they're 1-1, averaging 23 per contest and as of yet, agaisnt USF and NC State, they have not looked like the same football team as they are at home.

That needs to end today or else an opportunistic Hurricanes team may just pull off the upset. 

Here are three things to watch for...

What is Florida State's energy level out the gates?

Count on Miami to show up for this one ready to go. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Canes even come out a little over-amped. But Florida State cannot let the Canes outdo them in regards to intensity. If Miami gains confidence, if they start fast and can reel off a few good possessions, that could be trouble. Florida State will need to play all 60 minutes, but the first ten may be the most crucial. If Florida State can come early and a get a jump on the 'Canes, they may be able to put this one away in the first half. But if they come out flat and let Miami get the jump, who knows what could happen...

Florida State Cannot Let Up...

The Seminoles should have learned their lessons in the NC State game, that you have to play 60 minutes and can never let up. But that will be especially important today. This Hurricanes team doesn't quit like the Miami teams of old. Yes, the Hurricanes were taken to the woodshed by Kansas State and Notre Dame, but Al Golden's Canes didn't quit. They're definitely not going to quit tonight either. Remember last year? Florida State seemed to have the game in hand in the fourth quarter and a late flurry of action by the 'Canes almost made it a game at the end. Miami will bring that same fight to the game tonight, so the Seminoles need to be prepared to play all 60 minutes.

What Does Florida State's Offense Do Tonight?

The Florida State defense has not really been the culprit on the road, it's been their offense. Tonight, in a semi-hostile environment (lots of Seminoles here too), the offense will again be tested. At home, as I mentioned earler, the Noles have been as potent as any offense in the entire country. On the road, FSU could only muster 30 against a fairly weak USF team and then scored just 16, including no second-half points at NC State. 

So how are they going to attack? This Miami defense is on pace to be the worst in school history, but that means very little considering the NC State secondary was still smoldering when the 'Noles got to town and they were ineffective throwing on the Wolfpack most of that night. I'd look for Jimbo Fisher to come out and try to establish control of the lines first. The down-the-field shots will be there for Florida State, but if they can come out and pound the ball early and force Miami to move more men into the box, EJ Manuel should be able to finally have the kind of big game on the road fans have been waiting for.

I'll be back all night with updates on the blog and you can follow me on twitter too...


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