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4 posts from October 19, 2013

October 19, 2013

Rapid Reaction: FSU 51 Clemson 14


Tonight Florida State served notice to the rest of the country.

Alabama will still be ranked number one tomorrow and Oregon is still going to be number two. But make no mistake about it -- Florida State is going to start getting first place votes.

They deserve them too.

The Seminoles took the third-ranked Clemson Tigers to the woodshed on Saturday night. From the first play of the game -- when Telvin Smith caused a fumble that set up a Florida State touchdown -- to the final gun, Florida State dominated this game.

The stadium was loud, the Tigers came out amped and then Florida State punched them right in the mouth. And then they did it again. And again. Until this game was over midway through the third quarter. 

Nobody saw this coming. Nobody, except maybe the Seminoles.

“Our team motto is that if we play our game, we don’t think that we can beat," said Jameis Winston on Wednesday.

On Saturday night Florida State played its game and they didn't look like they could be beat. And for a team that lost 11 players to the NFL draft and started the season with a redshirt freshman quarterback, the Seminoles' best football could still be ahead of them.

Winston looked the part of a redshirt senior at times against Clemson. He finished his day 22/34 for 444 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. The pick was one of the only mistakes Winston made though, the rest of the time he was the walking embodiment of poise. 

Before tonight there were questions about whether Jameis Winston was for real. Nobody discounted he would one day be one of the nation's best quarterbacks. After tonight there's no more doubt. Winston made a resounding national statement. 

Last year Johnny Manziel went to Alabama and squeaked out a win. On Saturday night Jameis Winston visited the third-ranked team in the country, threw for a career high in yardage and his team crushed an opponent that many had picked to contend for a national title.

On the other side of the ball, Florida State's defense made Tajh Boyd look like a redshirt freshman for most of the night. Boyd can probably thank the 'Noles for ending his Heisman candidacy -- or at the very least dropping him to the bottom of the list. 

Boyd never looked comfortable. FSU got in his face early and often and the effects of the continued pressure showed more and more throughout the evening. He finished the game 17/37 for 156 yards, a TD and two interceptions. He also coughed the ball up when Lamarcus Joyner blindsided him on a sack. For as bad as it looked on Boyd's end though, a lot of the credit needs to go to Florida State's defense. 

Christian Jones -- who looks much more comfortable rushing off the edge -- was especially disruptive, Jeremy Pruitt drew up plenty of pressure on blitzes with defensive backs and linebackers and Telvin Smith and Lamarcus Joyner both had extremely impressive games.

This was the best FSU's defense has looked all season and it came against the best offense they're going to face this year.

Florida State just put the whole country on notice.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (22/34, 444, 3TD, INT)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (21-84, TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (8-146, 2TD)


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

Halftime: FSU 27 Clemson 7


Florida State fans can't be disappointed with how this game has gone so far. The Seminoles are beating the Tigers on both sides of the ball right now and Jameis Winston -- despite an INT early in the 2nd quarter -- is outplaying Tajh Boyd.

FSU wasted no time getting to work in this one, causing a fumble on their first defensive play of the game, then punching the ball in for an early touchdown three plays later on a 22-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin. 

After forcing a stop on the next series FSU added a field goal, and then a touchdown on a 37-yard fumble return by Mario Edwards after Lamarcus Joyner blindsided Tajh Boyd.

It was all Florida State early with the Seminoles jumping out to a commanding 17-0 lead with about three minutes left to play in the first quarter.

But momentum is a fickle thing and Clemson wasn't going to just roll over. The Tigers scored on an 11 play, 65 yard drive at the tail end of the first quarter and headed into the 2nd quarter looking to pull even closer. They got their opportunity too -- in the form of a Jameis Winston interception that was returned to midfield. 

The pick was a bad miscommunication. Kenny Shaw ran a post and Winston threw an out. The Clemson defender that was beat inside had no problem making a play on the ball and a late hit out of bound by Devonta Freeman set the Tigers up with great field position.

But Clemson failed to convert, instead punting the ball three plays later after losing six yards on the possession.  The Tigers got the ball back again at midfield, but once again failed to score and gave the ball back to Florida State again deep in Seminole territory.

That's when FSU retook momentum. A 95-yard drive that culminated in a 72-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Rashad Greene put the Seminoles up 24-7 and gave FSU complete control.

Tajh Boyd entered this game sporting considerable hype and promising Heisman prospects. As of halftime that's all on hold. I'm not going to be too pointed in my criticism of a college athlete but Boyd has looked flustered and uncomfortable throughout the first half of this football game. 

He's missed receivers low, he's thrown into double and triple coverage and even his touchdown pass was thrown behind Sammy Watkins. Twice Clemson had the ball to start a drive at midfield or inside Seminole territory in pivotal moments and both times Clemson failed to score even a single point. 

Then down 24-7 with Clemson driving Boyd tossed a pick to Lamarcus Joyner and set up a Florida State field goal to make it 27-7 heading into the half.

If Clemson wants to come back, they'll need a much better performance out of their redshirt senior quarterback.

FSU has dominated this first half. Jameis Winston did throw a pick and there have been spots where the Seminoles made mistakes, but they have outplayed Clemson through 30 minutes tonight.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (14/21 242 2TD, INT)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (10-47)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (7-129-TD)


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

Pregame: FSU at Clemson


We're a little over an hour from the first top-five match up of the college football season. The third-ranked Clemson Tigers and fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles are set to square off in a game that will have major ramifications for both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the national championship race. 

Clemson has the homefield advtantage and recent history on their side -- the Seminoles are 0-for-their-last-five in trips to Death Valley -- but Florida State claims none of that matters.

“Of course we don’t think about that because that’s not our team that hasn’t won in the last [five trips up to Clemson]," said Jameis Winston. "This is a new team. I didn’t even know that statistic. We don’t look at predictions, like I said we’re just doing the same gameplan trying to go out there and win.”

Come midnight the ACC should have its front-runner and the rest of the nation should have a better idea whether or not the conference is for real.

Here's your game capsule:

Game Preview (From Print)
Previewing the Opponent: Clemson Tigers
Five Things to Watch For
FSU Injury Report

Seminoles Buying Into Fisher (From print)
The Tao of Jaboo (Clemson Edition)
Mondays with Jimbo (Clemson Edition)


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

Five Things To Watch For: FSU at Clemson


Here are five things to watch for when FSU takes on Clemson tonight.

1.) Come On Feel the Noise

Death Valley will be rocking tonight. Florida State has said all week that the noise factor won't be an issue but whether or not that's true remains to be seen. This is a young Florida State team and they haven't faced anything like this before. Jameis Winston mentioned the environments at BC and NC State this week when he discussed crowd noise, but neither of those venues can hold a candle to the decibels at Death Valley.

“All the noise stuff, the way we communicate on the field and the way we do things, I don’t really think that’s going to be a big factor," said Winston this past Wednesday. "Momentum, from the momentum standpoint, if the crowd gets into it and their players start getting amped up, that will probably be a big factor in the game, but the noise I don’t think has nothing to do with our offense.”

And therein lies the key. Noise will be a factor the more FSU lets Clemson gain the momentum. If FSU can come out and take control of the momentum though, Jameis may look prophetic.

2.) Does Clemson Press?

The pressure is on Clemson in this one. All week the vibe out of Florida State has been that FSU's fanbase is more worried about this game than the team. Part of that is just the confidence this team has naturally, the other part is the fact that Florida State is a year ahead of schedule. The Seminoles lost 11 players to the NFL draft last year and went into the season with a redshirt freshman quarterback. That they are ranked 5th and are playing in a game of this magnitude is not unexpected, nor does it mean they want it any less, it just means they stand to lose a whole lot less than a Clemson team who's window could be shutting at the end of the season.

Tajh Boyd has -- in the past -- shown a tendency to press and make mistakes when the going gets toughest. If FSU can jump ahead and force Clemson to press a bit, they will be in good shape.

3.) How Short is FSU's Memory?

Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will test this Florida State secondary more than it has been tested all season. Chances are they'll win a few of those toss-ups too. That cannot discourage the back end of the Florida State defense though. If anyone on the team can pass that message along though, it's Terrence Brooks. Brooks gave up a couple of passes against the Tigers last season and took it hard. That can't happen again this year and I don't expect Brooks to let it.

As Lamarcus Joyner said earlier this week, this game will be a street fight and the Seminoles need to have their heads in the game. 

"You don’t know if you’re going to get knocked out or if you’re going to knock them out you pretty much just have to keep fighting. We don’t care about the scoreboard, long as we can pull out a win."

4.) Special Teams

This should really be number one on the list. Last year Lamarcus Joyner's 90-yard kick return changed the entire complexion of that game. Clemson's momentum evaporated and FSU took over in the time it took for Joyner to run from one end of the field to the other. Joyner is no longer returning kicks for Florida State, but that doesn't mean the weapons on both sides of this game are any less potent. If either team makes a mistake in the special teams phase of the game it could be fatal. That means no blocked punts, no shanks and no big returns. 

5.) Keep Your Cool

This is a rivalry game. If it wasn't before a few years ago, it sure is now and that means both of these teams will be heated. Even disregarding the rivalry, two sets of BCS Championship hopes are on the line here. The odds of a one-loss ACC team having a say are slim to nil. That means tempers could flare and there will be a few heated exchanges. The team that keeps its cool has the definite advantage in this one. Yards will be at a premium, momentum will be hotly contested. Dumb penalties -- or worse, ejections -- will do a lot of damage. Players need to keep their heads and play smart.


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



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