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3 posts from October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013

Florida State Debuts at No. 2 in the BCS Rankings


If the season ended today, Florida State would play for a national title in the BCS Championship game against Alabama.

“I didn’t know if we’d get quite to second – but I thought we’d be around third," said head coach Jimbo Fisher tonight on ESPN. "I really did – maybe fourth at the lowest. But I thought we’d have a shot. I just didn’t know. I’m very happy where we are at.”

Florida State edged out Oregon -- number two in both the Coaches and AP Poll -- because of their computer rankings. Last year Jimbo Fisher bemoaned the computer rankings on a near-weekly basis. This year? Those computers love Fisher's Seminoles. FSU is ranked number one in three of the six polls and second in two others. 

Now Florida State gets to deal with a barrage of BCS questions -- from reporters like me -- in the coming weeks and months.

“I mean you have to make [your players] aware of it because they are going to hear it every day," said Fisher. "That’s part of this whole run of going to a national championship, playing in the big games like we did at Clemson – you gotta handle the clutter. You have to understand how to deal with it and make it reality, because they’re going to hear it. Understand that we’re there because we’ve done a great job of what we’re doing. We don’t need to stop it – preparing each week, dotting I’s, crossing T’s, being very detailed-oriented and playing one-game seasons. That’s going to be very critical down the stretch.” 

Oregon is likely to jump FSU in the weeks ahead though. The computers are high on the Seminoles right after their big win over Clemson, but outside of Miami the Seminoles' schedule is hardly daunting and the computer polls factor the quality of opponents into the equation. Oregon will have chances to improve their strength of schedule with games against Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State -- all of whom are ranked -- in the latter half of the season.

"I tell [the team], ‘Control things that you can control.’ That’s how we prepare and how we play, and then we’ll let the polls work themselves out in the end," said Fisher. "We have to just play well and prepare to play well. To me, that’s the critical part. You want to always play well, but you have to have the power of preparation each week and it’s going to be very critical for us to understand that. I think the maturity of our team will kind of push that through.”

Florida State can't afford to rest on their laurels though. While they are likely to be favored in every game from here on out, NC State -- a team that knows all about ruining the Seminoles' season -- is next on the schedule. 


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

Thoughts From the Morning After: FSU 51 Clemson 14


Coming into Saturday night Florida State was still largely an unknown quantity.

Sure the early returns looked good. FSU hadn't scored fewer than 41 points in a game, they were ranked third in both scoring offense and scoring defense and they were fresh off a 63-0 demolition of the Maryland Terrapins -- who were ranked 25th at the time.

But nobody expected what happened in Clemson, SC last night when the Seminoles crushed the Tigers 51-14.

Florida State had no shortage of excuses at its disposal had it fallen short. The team lost 11 players to the NFL draft. They were starting a redshirt freshman quarterback against a top 3 team. It was loud.

But by the end of the night it was Clemson who was searching for excuses.

I think we can finally put to rest the tired question about whether or not Florida State is back now. The Seminoles are for real. They proved it when they outclassed a team that -- until today -- had many talking national title.

And that's not hyperbole either. Nobody had ever scored that many points on Clemson at Death Valley before. FSU did it against a squad that many Tigers fan would have argued was their most talented ever. 

In Florida State's previous five trips to Clemson -- all losses -- Clemson had turned the ball over just six times combined. Last night FSU forced four turnovers. Clemson's redshirt senior QB Tajh Boyd accounted for three of those turnovers and never looked comfortable in the face of Florida State's pressure. 

"I thought both our offensive and defensive lines did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage," said Jimbo Fisher after the game. 

On the other side of the ball Clemson's Vic Beasley -- one of the nation's most disruptive pass rushers -- was all but neutralized by LT Cameron Erving. The sack artist was limited to just two tackles and didn't bother Jameis Winston much at all on Saturday night. 

It was like that across the board too. Every matchup Florida State needed to win -- they won. Line of scrimmage? Check. The Clemson passing game? 4.5 yards per attempt. The crowd noise? Not a problem.

Florida State was dominant on Saturday night in a way that was reminscent of the program's heyday. And in the process they answered the same question that's been asked of them for the past three years.

Are they back? Yes.

Nick O'Leary

It's getting harder and harder to imagine that Nick O'Leary won't graduate from Florida State as the best tight end in the program's history -- at least statistically. The Golden Cub is already a touchdown away from tying Florida State's career record for touchdowns by a tight end, but more to the point he has become one of the most dangerous weapons in the Florida State passing attack.

O'Leary totaled 161 yards on five receptions last night. He ran over a Clemson defender on one play and then at the end of the game rumbled for 94 yards and narrowly missed scoring after Jameis Winston found him wide open -- exploiting a Clemson run-blitz -- with the Seminoles backed up on their own goal-line. 

"O’Leary is the man, just know that," said Winston after the game.

Senior Leaders on Defense

Florida State's three leading tacklers on Saturday were all seniors. Telvin Smith, Lamarcus Joyner and Christian Jones combined for 27 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. The trio of seniors played exactly how a team needs their senior leaders to play in a big-time game.

Smith lead Florida State with 11 tackles. He was all over the field -- as he has been all season -- and provided the vocal leadership for the Seminole defense.

“I just think we came out here with that mentality [to win]," said Smith. "You saw on the first play the defense came out and forced that turnover. And that just showed this team that alright we said it, now we’re doing it. And then we just ran with it and ran and ran. And we just ran away.”

Christian Jones has looked better and better after moving back outside and beginning to rush the quarterback off the edge. He provided constant pressure against Tajh Boyd on Saturday and was also stout against the run. Jones just looks more natural outside in Jeremy Pruitt's defense and has returned to his 2012 form the past two games.

Lamarcus Joyner had the best game of any defender though. Joyner's sack caused a fumble -- one that was returned for a touchdown by Mario Edwards Jr. -- in the first quarter and he picked off Tajh Boyd to end a Clemson scoring threat in the second. Prior to Saturday Clemson hadn't given up more than two turnovers in a game all year. Joyner matched that total on his own by halftime.

This was the best Florida State's defense has looked all year -- and it came against the toughest opponent on their schedule.

“This was something we needed to show everyone," said Joyner. "We believe as an organzation, but does the world? I doubt it. So this was an opportunity to show that and we embraced that challenge.”

Winston's Pick Was a Function of Technology

It was the return of Jimbo the Luddite after the game. I say that in jest, but after waxing philosophical about computer rankings, goal post lasers and social media on and off throughout last season, Jimbo Fisher complaining about technology has become a trend. On Saturday he finished his press conference by asking the media how they could hear sounds on the moon but not invent a microphone that doesn't involve him taking his shirt off to clip it on before every TV interview. 

The more pertinent part of Jimbo's tech-talk was in regards to Jameis Winston's first half interception though.  

"The interception was our fault.  The headset went out," said Fisher. "We signaled the route to the receiver and they ran the double move.  The coach who signaled to Winston signaled for the single move.  We had to throw away the headset.  That could have cost you the ballgame.  It cost us a huge turnover in the game.  He didn't make that mistake, but he handled it well."

More Thoughts From the Morning After:

##- Roberto Aguayo is still perfect this season. He kicked three field goals and six extra points on Saturday to bring his point total for the season to 71. He is currently on pace to score 462 points by the end of his junior year. Dustin Hopkins' career NCAA record for a kicker is 442.  By the way, that's averaging for 13 games per season. If he plays 14 a year -- as is well within the range of possibility -- the record could fall even faster. 

##- Florida State has scored in their last possession of the first half and in the first possession of the second half in every game this season. 

##- Rashad Greene had eight receptions for 146 yards and two scores. He now has seven touchdowns this year and has made a catch in 21 straight games.

##- FSU is now 10-1 all-time against ACC opponents ranked in the top 10.


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

Going Polling: Florida State Surges to Third in Both Polls


Let the debates begin. 

One day after knocking off Clemson 51-14, the Florida State Seminoles have jumped from fifth to third in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls. Now the discussion about whether Florida State deserves to be ranked higher will begin.

Last night -- in what was billed as the biggest game in ACC history -- Florida State notched arguably the most impressive win of the college football season so far. But both Alabama and Oregon started the season ranked higher than FSU and the odds of the Seminoles unseating one of the two schools if all three finish the season unbeaten are hardly promising.

Part of the problem is that -- on some level -- jumping the Seminoles over the Ducks and Tide would be an admission on behalf of the AP and Coaches poll voters that they got it wrong. As it stands now FSU got three first place votes between the two polls -- two in the AP and one in the coaches.

That number is likely to jump if the Seminoles can handle Miami in two weeks, but unless Alabama or Oregon drop a game -- FSU is likely to be on the outside looking in some BCS selection time.

Looking at both polls, Clemson drops to ninth in the AP poll and 10th in the coaches. Meanwhile the Hurricanes move up to 7th in the AP poll and 6th in the coaches. Virginia Tech is 16/19 (AP/Coaches) and the University of Florida was dropped from both polls after an embarrassing loss to Mizzou that saw their offense sputter to a total of just 151 total yards.

Next up for FSU is North Carolina State.


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



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