It's amazing how much a week can change. 8 days after a tough loss in Raleigh, things don't seem quite as bleak across Seminole nation. Fans have inched back away from the ledge a little.
Last night Florida State did exactly what they needed to in order to get their season back moving in the right direction. They didn't fix all of their problems, but they did put their best foot forward and remind people around the country what their high-end potential looks like on the way to a 51-7 win over Boston College.
BC on the other hand did themselves few favors this week.
I alluded last night to comments made by Boston College in the lead-up to the game. I doubt that was a motivating factor for the Seminoles, it's not like they needed more, but the Seminoles certainly had plenty of fun with it after the game.
“I think their mindset is, OK, we were these big-time recruits, they’re much more talented than us, we don’t belong on the field with them,” said BC linebacker Nick Clancy. “They think that we’re much less talented. But when it comes down to it, we’re just different type of people.
"We’re blue-collar people. We have a very strong work ethic. We know when adversity’s thrown in our face what to do and how to respond. And I think that’s what separates us.”
Vince Williams, always one of the best quotes on the Florida State team, didn't really mince words.
"Oh we read [the quotes]," said Vince Williams afterwards. "I think we've got some pretty blue collar guys on our team too.
"We didn't [hang it up in] the locker-room, but that was the most impressive three plays I've ever seen coach Jimbo call. I'll just say that."
The second part was an allusion to another BC remark about how Florida State's offense only runs three different plays.
Before getting on to thoughts from the morning after about FSU, what was Boston College doing? For starters, everything Clancy said looks absolutely foolish right now after the Eagles didn't look like they belonged on the field with the Seminoles. But also why would you badger a team like FSU in a week like this?
BC's best hope was to catch a flat FSU team looking to next week's Miami game. Instead they ran into a group that was pretty focused.
Here are some thoughts from the morning after.
-First off, major credit to FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins. Last night he broke Nick Novak's ACC record for all-time scoring and is now the Florida State all-time leader with 402 points (and counting). Hopkins has been up and down this year, but seems to be back on track.
"He's really now the last couple weeks starting to kick the ball," said Jimbo Fisher. "He changed his routine, he went back to the old way he was kicking, got back to it. The thud of the ball the last two weeks have been totally different."
After missing several field goals earlier in the season Hopkins went back to basics and is now kicking well again. Florida State's going to need that to continue down the stretch too. Hopkins passed the record on a field goal in the second quarter from 51 yards, which is incidentally about the length Jimbo Fisher punted from last weekend in Raleigh rather than let Hopkins try to put FSU up 19-10. Obviously both situations were very different, but it is worth pointing out.
-Christian Jones lead the way with 8 tackles, but if you're looking for a player to watch down the line you don't need to go much further down the stat sheet to find him. True freshman Reggie Northrup was second with six last night. Northrup is a reserve, but he's been making the most of his reps and he's got the other players talking.
"I thought Reggie did a tremendous job," said Vince Williams last night. "He's a young guy, doesn't get that many opportunities, we always make fun of him because, you know, guys like me I haven't really had a young linebacker to take under my wing in a minute. So just having him out there and seeing him explode and make some plays was just fun to watch."
-Kenny Shaw only had two catches, but both were huge for Florida State. Shaw finished with 125 yards and a score on just two receptions, his 77-yarder on the Seminoles opening drive was one of the biggest plays of the game though. After the big goal-line stand and a fortitutous third down bounce that helped Florida State get out of the shadow of its own goal-posts, Shaw stepped up on a third down play to catch a ball in stride and then beat the BC defense in a foot race.
“We knew they were going to roll a cover two on our side," said Shaw. "So we ran a double post to get the safeties out of there. Luckily I came open off the receivers and got scotch free.”
After the defense had just stood tall on their first drive, Shaw's big play was a potent reminder of just how good this Florida State team can be. It brought the crowd roaring to life and helped sustain the momentum that the goal-line stand had established. Offensively, that's probably the play of the game.
-I mentioned in yesterday's Wrap-up that Chase Rettig made several throws that used to be no-no's because he leads his receiver right into a big hit. But nowadays, those hits are typically flagged so more and more QB's have less and less reservation about where they lead their receivers. Another one of the new wrinkles that comes from many of the rules changes was demonstrated by Rettig's backup last night on a run late in the 4th quarter.
Josh Bordner saw a collision with safety Karlos Williams approaching on a run play, stuttered a second and then went head to head with Williams. The tiny pause, given the rush to protect players (especially QB's) gives the defender a mind to pull up. If he hits a quarterback who is giving himself up, as the stutter-step hints at, it's 15 yards. So then when Bordner takes the contact to Williams, it surprises Williams a bit and Bordner gets up and jumps around like he just brought the lumber. That is the original Tebowing. UF's QB was a master of getting defenders to pull up thinking he was going to slide and then trucking them. There's really no way around it, but I see that play more and more lately.
-A huge cheer swept across Doak last night when the scoreboard temporarily showed a Miami loss and UF trailing Vanderbilt. It may hurt, but if Seminoles fans have any prayer of a title run, UF is the key. If Florida State wins out, conventional wisdom says a one-loss school from a better conference will jump them. Specifically from the SEC. But FSU has a work-around in the form of a Florida team that could be unbeaten come Thanksgiving.
Seminoles fans need that scenario, they need both teams to win out leading up to their yearly showdown. Here's why, if the Gators are unbeaten, drop their lone game to FSU and then go on to win the SEC, it would be pretty difficult to put a one-loss SEC school above the 'Noles because they beat the one-loss conference champion head-to-head. It's not a likely scenario, it's probably not a fun one for Seminoles fans either. But if FSU is going to have any outside prayer at getting back into the BCS chase, UF holds the key.
-Finally, just to quantify how good the Seminoles have been at home this year. They haven't scored fewer than 49 points yet and four of their five wins have featured over 600 yards of offense. To give context, since 2000, Florida State has gone over 600 just six times, four are this season.
I'll have several updates today, including a few follow-ups, updates on the polls and possibly even a little basketball. Keep checking back.