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5 posts from October 5, 2013

October 05, 2013

Defense Shines, But Winston Steals the Show Against Maryland


This is not an article about Jameis Winston.

Let's just go ahead and get that out of the way right now. Florida State's mercurial quarterback lit the scoreboard up again on Saturday, notching career highs in passing yards and touchdowns while helping Florida State roll up 63 points - the most on a conference opponent since 2000.

The story on almost any other day - especially at Florida State where defense is king - should be the number on the other side of the scoreboard, that goose egg. Florida State's defense pitched its first shutout against a ranked opponent since Georgia Tech back in 1997 today, but that's not the story.

Not at Jameis Winston's Florida State.

Today the story has to be Winston, who once again put up videogame numbers while playing on a national stage. 

But let's take a minute to look at that defensive performance anyway. I'll have plenty on Winston throughout the week, throughout the season and probably for the next couple of years. For now though, give credit to Florida State's defense for looking the best they have all season.

“[It's] hard work paying off, I mean I love the guys that I’m around, that just shows me that we’re all playing together and we’re playing with a purpose out there," said senior LB Telvin Smith. "It’s just great when the whole game you can hold a team to no points. Obviously they’re going to have yards and things like that but when the one’s got off the field we’d held them to 14 rushing yards.

"Just to come back from a week like last week when they were rushing the ball to say ‘ok, this is the statement that we’re making’ it’s just a tremendous feeling of joy.”

Unfortunately for Florida State's defense that statement was overshadowed by the one Winston made - at least from a national standpoint - but the Seminole defense certainly served notice to the ACC today that they have begun to arrive.

Last weekend the Seminoles were gashed for 200 yards rushing and 34 points by a BC team many felt was overmatched. This week - after fixing those issues during practice - the Seminoles looked like a dramatically different team.

“We really weren’t thinking about last week. Last week was last week. We were mainly just focused on coming out here this week and everybody doing their part and just trying not to be superman," said junior DT Tim Jernigan. "We did a great job at our gap assignments and the way we used our swim techniques, we knew that they were going to try to trick us up a little bit and run the hurry-up and we just predicted everything well."

FSU held Maryland to 234 yards - including just 33 on the ground - and no points. The closest the Terrapins got to scoring was when a 51-yard field goal bounced off the uprights. Stefon Diggs - who was 8th nationally in total yards last season - accounted for just 29 on Saturday. CJ Brown was knocked out of the game on a vicious hit.

At times today the Seminole defense looked downright mean.

“I think they played with urgency," said head coach Jimbo Fisher after the game. "They took on blockers well and our eye discipline was excellent. We kept our eyes and this game here was harder to do that with than last game (because of) a lot of motions and the zone reads and pulls.

"Our eye discipline was excellent which allowed us to make good decisions about what we were going to do. Allowed us to play with our athleticism and then we were physical and tackled well.”

Part of what helped Florida State was the return of Mario Edwards at defensive end. The sophomore had missed two games with a hand injury before returning to provide solid pressure against Maryland. Senior linebacker Christian Jones also played outside at linebacker during the game - much as he did as an underclassmen - allowing Terrance Smith to get on the field and play in the middle. 

“We practiced really well this week," said Edwards. "It was probably one of the best [weeks of] practices that we had all season and we just put what we did in practice into this game.”

Right in time too.

Florida State has the week off to rest up before travelling to Death Valley to take on no. 3 Clemson on October 19. Now FSU just needs the defense that showed up today to make the trip to South Carolina in two weeks. 

If it does, the title talk might follow.


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Rapid Reaction: FSU 63 Maryland 0


The second half of this game became the Jameis Winston show as the redshirt freshman signal-caller made a national statement against a ranked opponent and FSU won 63-0.

Put it this way, the Jameis Winston hype is about to explode.

Maryland entered the game with the third-ranked scoring defense in the country, giving up just a hair over 10 points per game. Jameis Winston either didn't realize that or the Terps weren't quite as strong as advertised because a minute into the 4th quarter Winston was resting comfortably on the bench with a career day in hand and his Seminoles up 49-0.

Winston was 23/32 for 393 yards and five touchdowns on the day. In all FSU rolled up 614 total yards and gained 33 first downs. 

Florida State's offense started with a touchdown and then sputtered out in the first half, but - as is becoming commonplace - Winston came on at the end of the half, leading two scoring drives to put the Seminoles up 21-0.

Then FSU scored on their next four consecutive possessions to start the second half and push the lead out to 49-0 by the time Winston made his exit. The Seminoles have now scored a touchdown on the final drive of the first half in all five games. Perhaps more impressively, FSU has gone on hot-streaks where its offense has scores on six straight drives in all five games this year as well.

When the Seminoles have gotten going on offense, they've yet to play a defense that could stop them.

Rashad Greene had four receptions for 108 yards, Kenny Shaw had five for 96 and a score, Kelvin Benjamin had five for 60 and two scores and Nick O'Leary had two touchdowns and 55 yards on four receptions too.

But the real story was Winston.

The redshirt freshman was poised and accurate throughout the day on Saturday and the Florida State offense looked unstoppable at times with him leading it.

There was this pass:

And this one:

And of course this will be played on Sportscenter for at least the weekend, maybe longer:

Florida State is far from perfect as a football team, but this was without a doubt their most complete effort to date. The defense was stifling, the offense was lethal once it started to fire on all cylinders. Now with a week off to prepare for Clemson, the Seminoles appear to be rounding into form on both sides of the ball just in time.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (23-32, 393 5 TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (17-63 TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (4-108) 


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Halftime: FSU 21 Maryland 0


Florida State got off to the fast start it was looking for in this one.

After Roberto Aguayo kept the ball away from Stefon Diggs on the opening kick, FSU got Maryland off the field quickly and gave the ball to Jameis Winston and the offense. Winston wasted no time going 5-5 for 52 yards on the opening series and Florida State scored first on a Karlos Williams one-yard TD run. 

Then things cooled off. 

In almost a "be-careful-what-you-wish-for" sort of way, the Seminoles went from a hot start to being stalled out very quickly. The next three offensive possessions for FSU ended with a combined zero yards, two bad snaps and three punts between them. Jameis Winston went one for his next five after starting perfectly on the first drive. 

Things looked even worse heading to timeout at the end of the first quarter following Maryland's longest play of the day - a 39-yard pass to Stefon Diggs - set the Terps up inside FSU's territory with a chance to tie the game.

FSU had none of that though, stopping two deep pass attempts before a 51-yard field goal bounced off the upright.

A couple drives later the offense got started again, traveling 80 yards on nine plays and capping it with a Devonta Freeman score.

They ended the half with their fifth touchdown drive on the final drive of the second quarter in as many attempts. The Seminoles have now scored touchdowns heading into the half of all five of their games this year. Jameis Winston lead the offense 78 yards in nine plays and found Kelvin Benjamin in the back of the endzone with :28 seconds left for his first TD of the game.

Maryland quarterback CJ Brown is probably done for the afternoon following a vicious hit he took from Jacobbi McDaniel. Brown tried to buy time and got caught by Christian Jones who held him up. Then he was obliterated by McDaniel and stayed down on the turf for quite a while.

The hit was probably illegal - not dirty- but a little late and McDaniel didn't make much of an effort not destroy the quarterback. He took two steps and unloaded right under his chin. Caleb Rowe came out and threw a 17-yard completion on his first drive but was unable to keep the punt team off the field after that.

On the Florida State side Bryan Stork is out for the game following a concussion. At least one of FSU's bad snaps is likely attributable to that injury. Story looked out of sorts following one FSU's drives and was replaced quickly by Austin Barron.

FSU looks to be in control of this game at the half, but it's a tenuous hold on the game right now. The 'Noles headed into the tunnel up 16-0 at NC State last year and fans are well aware of how that game ended. 

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (14/20, 202 TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-48-TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (3-60)


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter... 

Pregame: Maryland at FSU


Today marks the best test Florida State has faced all season as the Seminoles prepare to host the Terrapins of Maryland in just a little under an hour.

This will be the final meeting between these two schools as ACC foes. FSU leads the all-time series 21-2 and will look to win their seventh in a row today. The last time the Terps beat FSU was in 2006. 

Jameis Winston should be ready for lots of pressure from the Maryland defense and the Seminole D should be ready to defend the pass against the Terps' offense. FSU should have an edge in this one given their talent and depth, but Maryland has playmakers - including one of the nation's best in Stefon Diggs.

Here's your game capsule, make sure to check back throughout the game for updates and analysis.

Game Capsule:

Maryland at FSU Preview (From Print)
Previewing the Opponent: Maryland Terrapins
Five Things to Watch For
Injury Report
Ukeme Eligwe Suspended

Defense Looking to Make Improvements (From Print)
The Tao of Jaboo (Maryland Edition)
Mondays with Jimbo (Maryland Edition)


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter... 

Five Things to Watch For: Maryland at FSU


Here are five things to watch for when Maryland visits FSU today.

1.) Careful on those kicks!

This may be the most important thing Florida State has to worry about all day: Maryland can change a game on a single kick or punt return. While FSU will definitely have their defensive keys and offensive assignments well in mind come kickoff, the one detail that could elude them at a key moment is how talented Maryland is in the return game. William Likely, a freshman defensive back, is handling the bulk of the return duties but the ever-dangerous Stefon Diggs could also head back to field kicks too.

That means Roberto Aguayo and Cason Beatty need to be on their games today. Aguayo's kickoffs have been steady all season. The hang-time on Beatty's punts needs to be too today or else Maryland could gain an edge in the hidden yardage.

2.) Can the defense maintain its assignments?

All week the defense has been hard at work trying to correct the mistakes it made against Boston College last weekend. The Eagles gashed FSU for 200 yards on the ground and scored 34 points, largely due to the fact that the Seminoles had players free-lancing a bit too much - trying to make plays beyond what they were asked to do - and it cost them. This week that will be even more important as Maryland tries to spread the field.

3.) More carries for Karlos?

Karlos Williams was likely in line for more carries last week but FSU struggled to set up the run and it was up to Jameis Winston to bail them out. Today, against Maryland I think Williams finally takes a bigger role on offense. So far, Karlos has looked like one of the most dynamic players on the entire roster with the ball in his hands. Fisher was testing him early to make sure he was comfortable and that the calls and reads came second nature, now that he knows they do, expect Williams to be unleashed.

4.) Jameis Winston faces his first real test

Maryland hasn't really played anyone either, their best win was over a fairly hapless West Virginia team, but they are ranked 25th and do have the 3rd ranked scoring defense in the nation. At least on paper this is the biggest test Jameis Winston has faced as a collegian and all eyes will be on him come kickoff. Winston has been superb so far this year, if he can continue that today FSU will be unbeaten heading to Clemson in two weeks.

5.) Can FSU overcome its problems with slow starts?

The Seminoles are yet to come out early and blow the doors off the building this year. Granted, they have started to roll in every game this year - scoring on six straight drives at some point in all four games - but they are yet to do it early. Last weekend they fell behind 17-3 before going on a 35-3 run to ice the game. This week they want to avoid that.

“It’s very easy to pick up your intensity when you’re behind," said Winston. "When you’re a great team you always need to have that intensity. You want to play like that – like you are always behind. That’s why we’re always, ‘Hey, don’t look at the scoreboard. Play like the score is 0-0.’ You always have to play like that chip is always on your shoulder.”


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...



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