We're half-way through Florida State and Duke and it didn't take long for Florida State to jump out in this one. After forcing Duke to punt on their opening possession, it took just three plays from scrimmage for EJ Manuel to find Rashad Greene for a 71-yard touchdown to get the scoring kicked off.
It was a good sign for Greene, who was replaced by Tyler Hunter as the Florida State punt returner earlier this week. The sophomore WR took the opening play on a reverse and then went deep on the third play for the long score.
Then a series later Hunter, who had replaced Greene at returner, housed the first punt he got his hands on. After two that went out of bounds, the sophomore safety took a punt 75 yards to put FSU up 14-0 following an EJ Manuel fumble.
I don't think Seminoles fans are going to notice much of a drop-off returning punts. Hunter threatened again on a punt-return later in the first quarter. Duke may want to start kicking away from him, he's returning punts like he's playing PlayStation right now.
Aside from the long pass to Greene, it was a shaky opening couple of series for EJ Manuel. Manuel bounced a ball to the flats to James Wilder on the first series and then overthrew Rodney Smith on the second. Couple that with a fumble in Duke territory that took points off the board and it wasn't the kind of start Florida State fans are used to from the fifth-year senior QB.
Florida State's defense was on its game in the first half though. The first three Duke possessions ended in punts and Tank Carradine played on the other side of the line of scrimmage for much of the first quarter.
By the end of the first period it was 17-0 Seminoles.
The second quarter started much the same way that the first did, with Florida State forcing Duke to punt and then scoring in three plays. This time a Rodney Smith 52-yard reception set up a James Wilder Jr. touchdown from the one.
Duke got on the board on a 90-yard drive that included about 30 yards of Florida State penalties at the end of the half. Sean Renfree made a horrible throw that got one of his tailbacks destroyed down the sideline by Lamarcus Joyner first. The hit was legal, but Joyner launched and at game-speed, the hit looked bang-bang and drew a flag. That extended the series for the Blue Devils. Later on the drive, Renfree was knocked out by Karlos Williams as he got through the line on a blitz. That hit drew another flag which set Duke up inside the FSU 10 and let them score.
The Duke QB left the field under his own power but is out with a concussion. Both teams traded possessions at the end of the first half. Florida State's momentum looks to have waned a little after surrendering the 90-yard scoring drive, but the Seminoles will take the ball first in the second half.
Florida State's defense, aside from the one drive, has held Duke to 67 first-half yards.
Passing: EJ Manuel (4/11, 182, TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (5-37, TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (1-71, TD)