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...