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54 posts from November 2012

November 22, 2012

Florida State Injury List: Week Thirteen


Not much new on the injury report this week. Debrale Smiley is the only new addition to the list after suffering a high ankle sprain last weekend at Maryland. LB Nick Moody wore a boot part of the week as a precaution but is expected to play on Saturday with UF in town.

Out vs. Florida

DB Justin Bright (head)

OL Garrett Faircloth (hip)

DT Moses McCray (head)

DT Derrick Mitchell (back)

OL Trey Pettis (head)

RB Debrale Smiley (ankle)


Out for the Season

DB Colin Blake (shoulder)

DE Chris Casher (knee)

LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand)

OL Daniel Foose (back)

TE Dan Hicks (knee)

DE Brandon Jenkins (Lisfranc fracture)

DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)

RB Mario Pender (sports hernia)

RB Chris Thompson (ACL)


November 21, 2012

Florida State Edges North Florida 75-67, Improve to 4-1


Florida State's men's basketball team improved to 4-1 on Wednesday night, defeating the University of North Florida 75-67.

The Seminoles had the edge from the tip, but ended the first half sloppy and kept UNF in the game. At the end of the first 20 minutes Florida State lead just 32-24 after turning the ball over nine times and shooting just 43.8% including 0-5 from behind the arc.

"I thought we started very efficiently moving the ball, I think it was 16-3," said Leonard Hamilton. "But what I learned tonight is we're not going to be able to sub maybe as liberally as we have with other teams.

"I think tonight I may have taken us out of sync [a little] by our subsitution pattern. But in order for us to get better we're going to have to develop that continuity on the team, but I'm not sure we're there yet."

Terry Whisnant lead the first half scoring with 8, but FSU looked a little off and let UNF hang around a lot longer than they likely intended to. Despite shooting just 32 percent in the first half, the Ospreys connected on 4 of 12 from three-point range to keep them within 8 points at the end of the half. 

That was UNF's plan, make FSU shoot the three and try to knock down a few of their own. It didn't work, but it did end up keeping the game close for 40 minutes.

In the second half things got even tighter. UNF got to within four points at the 15:55 mark before Florida State's offense started to take over. During a back and forth second half FSU was finally able to put some distance between themselves and UNF at around the 10-minute mark.

But it didn't last.

The game stayed within a single-digit margin for most of the final ten minutes as UNF tried desperately to solve Florida State's defense.

At the final media timeout, with 3:05 left and UNF trailing by 8, 68-60, the Ospreys attempted to mount their final offensive run. Parker Smith connected on a three pointer to make it a five-point game. Florida State failed to score after taking down the shot clock on their ensuing possession and UNF regained possession off a Terrance Shannon missed lay-in. UNF turned the ball over on its next trip down the court though, and inside of a minute was forced to start fouling. 

Devon Bookert sunk a couple of shots from the free throw stripe to put the Seminole lead back to 7 with 52 seconds left before Parker Smith knocked down two free throws of his own to put the game back within two scores with 40 seconds remaining.

Unfortunately for the Opsreys, there wasn't enough time to get back into it though. Michael Snaer made a couple of free throws on Florida State's next trip down the floor and that ended up being enough for FSU who held on to win 75-67.

Florida State never trailed in this game, but they also never put the Ospreys away like they were capable of either. The defense continued to be stifling and prevented UNF from putting much of anything together outside of the three-point shot. UNF finished the night shooting 37.7% and were also 9-33 from behind the arc, the sheer volume of threes kept them in the game.

The Seminoles did dominate under the glass, where they outrebounded UNF 41-26. They also held on to the ball much better in the second half, but this was not the kind of complete effort that Leonard Hamilton and his team are looking for.

"I'm hopeful and happy we're able to win while we're developing our team," said Hamilton. "I thought [UNF] did a very good job of sticking with their gameplan and I thought they did a better job of executing their gameplan than we did with ours."

"I think physically we gave pretty good effort, but I didn't think we were all on the same page in sync offensively."

Ultimately though, talent won out. Michael Snaer ended the day as the leading scorer with 21 points, 8 rebounds, an assist, a steal and two blocks. He made two big back-to-back threes when UNF got things close at around the 10-minute mark in the second half. That was really the backbreaker for the Ospreys, their head coach admitted as much after the game.

Okaro White also added 15 and Terrance Shannon had 12 in a big second half. FSU takes on Minnesota at home in the Big Ten/ACC challenge next Tuesday.

Game Notes: UNF head coach Matthew Driscoll was highly complimentary of Michael Snaer, saying that Snaer lets the game come to him, "he doesn't let having a bad game make him into a bad player..." UNF G Parker Smith scored 20 to lead the Ospreys... UNF changed their defense up several times on Wednesday night and gave Florida State some issues on offense, "we didn't meet the challenges," said Coach Hamilton... FSU shot 80% from the free throw stripe... Leonard Hamilton was unhappy with his team's 17 turnovers and says that must improve before FSU hosts Minnesota on Tuesday... Ian Miller has a bone bruise in his foot, he could have played on Wednesday night but was held out as a precaution. He is expected to play on Tuesday... Michael Snaer said after the game, "it's nice to have a bad offensive night and score 75, normally on a bad night we're in the 50's..."

November 20, 2012

Florida's Governor Weighs in On Florida-Florida State, ACC Realignment


I had an opportunity to talk with Governor Rick Scott this afternoon for about five minutes. The Governor will be in attendance at Saturday's Florida-Florida State game to take in the action and help promote the 'Visit Florida' tourism initiative. He was gracious enough to talk to me for a few minutes about this weekend's game earlier today.

"I think it’s going to be a close game," said the Governor. "For Florida State to win they’re going to have to do what they’ve done all season, great defense. I had lunch [on Monday] with Jimbo Fisher and they’re going to have to beat them on offense. But they both have good special teams, so it’ll be a fun game."

Scott isn't about to take sides or pick a winner, as the leader of the state he's not trying to alienate any voters with a Gator chomp or a Tomahawk Chop.

"Are they a Florida football team? I like all of the Florida football teams," joked Governor Scott. "I like both of the teams and they both have a legitimate shot. This is great for Florida, it’s great to have two teams with these records. I’m glad Florida State is going to the ACC championship, I wish Florida was going to the SEC championship, but hopefully FSU is going to win the ACC championship in Charlotte. EJ Manuel has had a great season and Driskel has had a great season over at the Gators. Gilleslee has had a great season as a running back. I like watching the games, I’ve been to a few of them. I don’t think I’ve been to a game as the governor that either of these two teams have lost, so this will be interesting."

Obviously that ends this weekend. In Scott's mind regardless of outcome though, the state wins big time when both programs are ranked highly.

"It’s great for tourism, it’s also a great way to promote our state," said the Governor. "As we know, all of us follow college football so having both Florida and Florida State in the top ten is great just for gaining notoriety for our state. But on top of that having this great game late in the season like this where they’re both 10-1 is also [big]. I think we’re going to see a lot of people here this weekend, I’m looking forward to the game. I know Florida leads the series but I think either one can win this weekend."

I also had a chance to ask Rick Scott about a potential move by Florida State out of the ACC. As a public university in a cash-strapped state, I expected Rick Scott to have a different take but he's supportive of whatever FSU needs to do long-term with its athletic programs.

“I want both Florida and Florida State to have great football programs, so the way I look at it is Florida State needs to do what they can do to make sure they have a successful football program," said Scott. "Both of them need to be in conferences where they can raise the money they need to have great teams. I’d like them both to be undefeated every year until they meet.”

The knee-jerk reaction may be that there are better things to fundraise for (than a massive ACC exit fee), but credit Scott for having the foresight to realize that the price up front may enable a program to be more lucrative in the long run. If the Seminoles want to switch conferences this offseason, the governor's office isn't likely to object.

I also had a chance to ask Governor Scott about the work Jimbo and Candi Fisher have done for the Kidz First fund, he was highly complimentary.

“I think it’s great what’s he’s doing. I think someone like Coach Fisher, what [he’s] doing to use his position to help kids I think it’s outstanding," said Governor Scott. "We have so many individuals like that around the state that use their position to raise money and take care of- in a variety of ways- take care of kids.”

If you want more information on the Kidz First fund, click here.

For more on Visit Florida, follow this link...

I'll be back later tonight with lots more FSU coverage...

Catching Up with Chris Thompson


If anyone on the Florida State roster is allowed to be down this season, it's probably Chris Thompson. A year after coming back from two broken vertebrae that threatened to end his career, Thompson was having a career year in his senior season only to have it cut short by a torn ACL against Miami last month.

Yesterday, we had a chance to talk to Thompson for the first time since he tore up his knee. 

“I was hoping it wasn’t [torn], but I did once I went down I did feel a little pop in my knee," said Thompson. "But once I went in the locker room I was kind of walking around some so I figured it wasn’t going to be as bad as it was.

"It didn’t even feel too bad on the plane ride back home but once I went to the meeting with Coach Fisher when he called me to his office, that’s when I knew it was bad. Once Coach Fisher asked me, he was like ‘what do you think your injury was?’ Right then I was like ‘I tore my ACL.’ He was like yep.”

Thompson has experience with missing the season, his broken back last year shook the Seminoles to their core and left Thompson overnight in a Winston-Salem hospital. This year, the seriousness of the injury didn't hit him as quickly.

“It was tough, at first it didn’t really set in. I was just sitting there looking at Coach Fisher," said Thompson. "I couldn’t even say anything at first, after I talked to my mom and Coach Fisher got on the phone with my mom, that’s when it really hit me and I just started crying.”

“I knew eventually I was going to have to get those tears out, because after I did, it made me feel a whole lot better about the situation. A couple other days I had where I was a little down but for the most part I know I’m going to come back, I know it’s nothing career ending. It’s nothing for me to really keep my head down about because I know without a doubt I’m going to bounce back.”

And that's why you cannot help but like Chris Thompson. After losing two of his prime years to major injuries, Thompson is as upbeat as ever. Jimbo Fisher calls Thompson what's right about college athletics. After a broken back and a torn ACL within 13 months of each other, it would be understandable if Thompson wanted to give up football for good. After all, who could blame him?

Fat chance though, he's motivated as ever.

“I think about that, but on the inside of me this is what I love to do and I’m not going to quit," said Thompson. "I saw both of these injuries that I’ve had the past couple years as, I see it as minor injuries to be honest with you. Because I know with both injuries that I’ve had that I’m going to come back and play again. I see it as a minor thing, and I also think it all happened for a reason.”

Thompson not only plans on returning, but given how strong he came back this season, he thinks his best is still ahead of him.

“I feel like [I will be better than ever]," Thompson continued. "I’m doing a lot strengthening my knees and my quads, this is an opportunity for me to get those parts of my body stronger. And with the progression I made with my back injury with the explosiveness and everything from that, I totally feel like once I go through this whole rehab process I’m going to come back stronger.”

So now the question is, where will Thompson resume his career? The logical conclusion is that Thompson is done at FSU. He would need to receive a medical exemption from the ACC in order to get another year of eligibility. Typically the ACC goes by the book and are likely to reject Thompson's plea, then it will fall to the NCAA to make a ruling.

If things play out as expected, Thompson will likely be working out for NFL teams come spring. But if he has his way, there's a chance he may be back in the Florida State backfield next season.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I love being here, just playing here with these guys," said Thompson. "I think what really has me thinking that way is just the fact I want to play another full season with my guys but at the same time I don’t know. I’m not sure if I want to come back or even just try to move on right now. It’s still one of those things I’ve been talking it over with my parents trying to decide what’s the right decision, which direction I should go.”

Ultimately, it's the NCAA's decision. Thompson can only control his rehab the rest of the season. 

"I’ve just got to focus on getting healthy and trying to finish up with school," said Thompson. "Because after all of that’s over in December as far as school I can think about what I want to do but right now I don’t really know which direction I want to go.”

One factor that could push Thompson towards another year at FSU– if he's given the opportunity– could be his education. Thompson is six credits from graduating this Spring and could return next year to pursue a masters degree.

“My parents always growing up just told me that education’s first," Thompson recalled. "[My mom] took me from football one time in high school because I got a “C.” So even coming back and trying to get my masters, that’s something that’s still in my mind also. And that’s another reason why I’m still kind of debating what I want to do.”

November 19, 2012

Brandon Jenkins Announces Intention to Enter NFL Draft


Brandon Jenkins will not play another down as a Florida State Seminole. After deciding to return for his senior year only to be injured in the first game and forced to miss the season, Jenkins will not apply for a redshirt next season opting instead to enter the draft.

"I had a lot of time to think about things, and gain information about how this injury affected everything, so I think I came to a conclusion," said Jenkins. "I think it's time. It's been great, I love FSU, I bleed garnet and gold, it was a tough decision. I feel like my time's been good, I will enter the draft."

We had a chance to talk to Brandon Jenkins today for the first time in a couple months. He looks good, sounds upbeat and has been absolutely living in the weightroom while he rehabs his Lisfranc fracture. 

While Jenkins maintains everything happens for a reason, he isn't chancing another setback to his NFL prospects by returning another season. And though he won't admit it publicly, I'm sure a small part of him regrets the decision to pass up money in last year's draft and come back to Florida State.

FSU really didn't need BJ this year as has been proven by Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Most programs could never hope to absorb the loss of preseason all-American, especially one with Jenkins' potential impact, but Florida State hasn't had to sweat it. As much as losing Jenkins hurt the team emotionally, having him back this season was essentially a luxury.

Jenkins arrived at his decision to leave this week, he spoke with Jimbo Fisher earlier today.

“I am very supportive of Brandon’s decision," said Fisher in a statement. "We had a great talk. It is best for him to go and become an NFL football player, which he most definitely will.

"We were very blessed to have had him here at Florida State. He’s one of the great players in Florida State history, but not only that, he’s one of the great people in Florida State history. He represented our team and our school with great dignity. I wish him nothing but the best and it was a pleasure to be able to coach him.”

"That was one of the most emotional times in my life talking to [coach] Fisher about this," said Jenkins. "He gave me a hug and he gave me words, he cares about me as an individual and not just a football player. He supports my decision and right now I'm just ready to win an ACC championship and put this behind and just rehab some more and watch us beat the Gators."

After the season Jenkins will turn his attention to the NFL draft and preparing for the Combine and Pro Day workouts. Jenkins, Tank Carradine and likely Bjoern Werner (who is a top-10 NFL prospect right now) could be three of the top ends in April's draft. Jenkins finishes his FSU career with 22.5 sacks and 37.5 TFL's. 

"There's things you face in life that you can't back down [from]," said Jenkins. "There's things you go through that make you stronger and make you better. I feel like this is a stepping stone for me to challenge me. I'm a big believer in God. I feel like this is a situation He's putting me in to challenge me to see how much I believe in Him."

A healthy Brandon Jenkins could easily be a first round talent, it remains to be seen how far along he is in his recovery by draft day though.

Dr. Lou Calls Florida State 'Vastly Underrated'

Lou Holtz was in town today speaking at a function as a guest of Governor Rick Scott. During a media break Dr. Lou was asked about, what else, college football. He starts by talking about his own Fighting Irish and the success they're having this season, but then turns his attention to Florida State, a team he feels is 'vastly underrated.' You may have heard Holtz and co-host Mark May arguing about Florida State's merits earlier this season on ESPN. With one week to go in the season, it seems Dr. Lou is still high on the 'Noles.

Check out the vidcap below:

Florida State's One-Point Margin for Error Looms Larger than Ever


Now it really hurts.

Now– almost as much as in the hours immediately afterwards– those ill-fated 30 minutes of football in the second half of a game at NC State sting in the minds of Seminoles fans.

On Saturday, just hours after clinching the Atlantic division of the ACC with a 41-14 win at Maryland, Florida State was given a harsh reminder of what could have been.

In the day’s late slate of games Stanford upset Oregon and Baylor way-layed Kansas State. Numbers one and two had fallen, the count of unbeatens had shrunk to one.

In Tallahassee, thoughts of October 6th in Raleigh crept back into the minds of the Seminoles.

After taking a 16-0 lead into the locker room at NC State, Florida State’s offense stalled. The Wolfpack nickel-and-dimed the Seminole D for 17 second-half points and FSU went home losers 17-16.

It’s the only time it’s happened all season, the Seminoles’ lone blemish, but it came full circle on Saturday night when Oregon and Kansas State both fell.

Now the Seminoles find themselves stuck at 10th in the BCS, weighed down by the computers, just tangibly out of reach of their preseason goal of a national title.

Florida State is literally just a one-point October loss from being unbeaten and poised to take on Notre Dame (the new consensus number one) in a rematch of last year’s Champs Sports Bowl.

The last team to beat Notre Dame, after all, was Florida State.

But nobody’s pointing that out. This is what it feels like to lack college football capital. Once a stalwart program, a decade down has rendered Florida State’s reputation largely irrelevant– nobody’s giving the ‘Noles the benefit of the doubt anymore.

After all the Seminoles have not won their own conference in seven years, have not played for a championship in 12.

The college football world seems acutely aware of this.

And while one and even two-loss teams from more prestigious conferences continue to jump Florida State, the Seminoles are treading water, left thinking about what could have been.

Right now Florida State is fighting an uphill battle to “get back,” in a disrespected conference with a razor thin margin for error.

How thin?

How about a single point.

Were it not for that one-point loss over a month ago in Raleigh the Seminoles would be poised for a shot at a BCS title. Instead they find themselves entering the last week of the season navigating BCS scenarios that have their destiny in other team’s hands.

At the center of those scenarios is their regular season finale against a one-loss SEC school and hated rival– Florida.

The Gators represent Florida State’s last best chance to make a statement to voters, the following week’s ACC Championship game will likely hurt the Seminoles with the BCS computers.

FSU’s last best hope may be a resounding win over UF, some key losses by teams ahead of them and a boost in the polls.

Even then, it’s still unlikely to be enough in the BCS. Even if the ‘Noles can soundly defeat the no. 4-ranked Florida Gators and get the help they need the computers are unlikely to give the Seminoles a shot.

Because of one point.

That made all the difference.

November 18, 2012

Going Polling: Florida State 5th in Coaches Poll, Stay 10th in AP Poll


After a crazy night of college football, the top five should look much different in all three polls today. The AP and Coaches poll both release around noon while the Harris interactive releases at 3.

Last night Kansas State and Oregon both lost and with them, the top two spots in the BCS came open. Notre Dame, who handled Wake Forest, will be number one across the board as the last remaining unbeaten. After that the chaos begins.

The Coaches Poll was first out with Florida State jumping into the top five, up one spot from last week when FSU was 6th. Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia and Oregon were ahead of FSU with Florida in 6th and Clemson 9th.

In the AP poll, things are even whackier, Ohio State is in the top five despite being ineligible for postseason play or to even win their own conference. The AP voters– who have been much harsher on FSU all season– have the 'Noles static at 10. Their top five was Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Oregon. 

All Florida State can control is to win out, they get Florida next Saturday and still have an ACC Championship game to show up for. Right now the Seminoles are back to darkhorse status, but they still need a lot of help to get there.

I'll have the other two polls when they come out...

November 17, 2012

Rapid Reaction: FSU 41 Maryland 14


Florida State has officially clinched the Atlantic Division of the ACC and now await their opponent to be decided for the championship game in Charlotte the first week of December.

This was the kind of road game Seminoles fans have waited for all season. The offense looked potent, controlled the line of scrimmage and aside from a couple small miscues, rolled over Maryland all afternoon.

Headed into next week's game against UF, this was exactly the kind of game Florida State needed to churn out.

EJ Manuel finished his day on the sideline after going 17-23 for 144 yards and a couple touchdowns. His lone error on the day came on an overthrown interception that didn't end up costing Florida State anything.

Manuel lead the Seminole offense up and down the field all afternoon though and helped the offense to its best road performance of the season.

The other offensive standout was Devonta Freeman. This is the Freeman I expected to see this season before Chris Thompson emerged. He was physical, showed great balance and wore down a very good Maryland defense to the tune of 148 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

Florida State finished the game with well over 200 yards on the ground, good news just one week removed from the team's worst rushing performance of the season at Virginia Tech. James Wilder took the workload down the stretch and hammered away at the Terps defense through the fourth quarter. He added a very impressive touchdown of his own on a second-effort play in the 4th.

Defensively, the Seminoles gave up just one score on the Terps opening drive of the second half and then a dumb touchdown in the waning seconds once the reserves were in. It was a solid drive by Maryland, but was also all that the Terrapins could muster against the Seminole starters on the day.

Overall, FSU was the better team on Saturday and it showed in all phases of the game. Tank Carradine recorded a couple more sacks and recovered a fumble, Bjoern Werner was his normal disruptive self and the secondary had little trouble shutting down the Maryland passing attack.

Dustin Hopkins also broke the NCAA all-time scoring record for kickers. He finished the day with 447 points. Travis Prentice, the former Miami-Ohio running back holds the all-time record for any position with 468 points. Hopkins has three games to break that mark.

Now Florida State turns its attention to UF, who visits next weekend in the regular season finale. A win over a one-loss UF team could give the 'Noles a late BCS boost, but don't count on too much...

I'll be back with more coverage later today...

Halftime: FSU 27 Maryland 0


So far this is the road game Florida State has yet to turn in this season. As usual the defense is swarming and not allowing Maryland anything offensively and the Seminole offense actually showed up for this one (at least in the first half).

After a good opening return from Karlos Williams the Seminoles drove 62 yards– mostly on the legs of Devonta Freeman– and scored an opening touchdown to set the early tempo. On the ensuing kickoff Chad Abrams knocked the ball out on a big hit and Toshmon Stevens hopped on it. EJ Manuel connected with Nick O'Leary for a touchdown on the very next play.

It was 14-0 before Maryland even touched the ball.

The defense has been dominant ever since, sacking Sean Petty three times, forcing a fumble and limiting the Terps to 36 total yards and no points. Both ends have a sack and Carradine hopped on the fumble too.

The Seminoles stalled out on a couple of drives in the middle of the first half down in Terrapin territory, but a couple of field goals (and a few extra points) have given Dustin Hopkins enough to become the NCAA all-time points leader for kickers. He now has 446. 

The Seminoles capped the first half with another touchdown drive, draining clock and culminating in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Rashad Greene. Anyone who questions Manuel's toughness, he got drilled on the TD pass but still delivered it. 

Something to watch in the second half, Manuel got up a bit gimpy on that last drive. Personally, I'd pull him given the lead and the tempo of the game.

All in all, very strong first half for Florida State. EJ Manuel looks efficient, Devonta Freeman has been solid and as usual the defense is swarming. Things have just looked crisp today for the Seminoles. 

Statistical Leaders

Passing: EJ Manuel (14/18, 130, 2TD)

Rushing: Devonta Freeman (11-77, TD)

Receiving: Rashad Greene (4-50, TD)



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