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61 posts from October 2013

October 28, 2013

Video Rewind: Bobby Bowden's Return to Doak


Bobby Bowden returned to Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since retiring this past Saturday. If you missed it, here's a video (courtesy of TheACC.com) of FBS's all-time winningest coach dropping the spear before the Seminoles beat the Wolfpack 49-17.

You may also notice the moment at the end when Jimbo Fisher and Bowden embrace. After the game Fisher was asked about the moment.

"I love the guy. I just wanted to pay my respects," said Fisher. "He’s the greatest football coach in college football history in my opinion and the greatest gentleman for sure.”

Added Florida State Hall of Famer Willie Jones Sr.: "It means a lot to me just to have him to bring him back to recognize him for the great things he’s done not only for the university, but for the higher education environment everywhere. 

"Sometimes we wait to say how much we love a person until after they’re dead. But we get to enjoy this now."


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October 27, 2013

Jameis Winston On Pace to Rewrite FSU's Record Books


EJ Manuel leaves a complicated legacy behind him at Florida State.

As a transitional player it's hard to argue Manuel wasn't excellent for FSU. He entered the program with plenty of clout and left it better off than he found it.

Remember where Florida State was when EJ Manuel got there. The Bowden era was coming to an unceremonious end, the talent on the team had declined and a once proud program was slowly sinking into the quicksand of college football parity. 

Heck, EJ had to practically win out -- allowing for an obvious loss to Tim Tebow's Gators -- after replacing an injured Christian Ponder during his redshirt freshman year just to send Bowden out a winner in his final season. Manuel's Gator Bowl performance (in which he went 17/24 for 189 yards and lead FSU to a 33-21 victory over West Virginia) is still amongst his best moments at FSU.

Three years later Manuel was selected 16th overall in the NFL draft after going 12-2 and winning an Orange Bowl in his senior season. Along the way FSU had moved back up from ACC also-rans (which they were for about seven years) and reclaimed their place atop the conference.

That's not too shabby.

Unfortunately for Manuel the guy that followed him isn't doing his legacy any favors. 

All EJ did last year was win 12 games in a season for the third time ever at FSU, win a conference title and earn just the second BCS victory in Florida State history. He had a career-high 23 touchdowns last season. He was the first quarterback taken in the draft.

The same will likely be said of his successor too. 

It took Jameis Winston just seven games -- half a season -- to throw as many touchdowns as EJ Manuel did in 14 games last year. 

Winston's performance through seven games has been jaw-dropping. He's completed just a hair under 70 percent of his passes (128/183, 69.9%) for 2,177 yards and 23 touchdowns. His name has become a fixture on Heisman watchlists. 

Assuming FSU plays two extra games this year (ACC Championship and a bowl game) Winston is on pace for 4,354 yards and 46 touchdowns. To give you perspective, only one passer in FSU's history has ever thrown for 4,000 yards in a season. That was Chris Weinke in 2000. He did it in 13 games. Winston has a shot at that mark, but a lot will depend on how long he's left in ballgames through the remainder of the season.

FSU has several tilts with overmatched opponents -- Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho -- left on their schedule and it's not likely that Winston plays deep into those games. That could make topping the yardage mark a bit tougher.

The record that probably will fall this year though is for passing touchdowns in a season. That mark is also held by Weinke who threw for 33 in 2000. Winston is already within ten and has seven more games to get there.

Through half a season Winston is already tied for ninth all-time at FSU for passing touchdowns in a year. Charlie Ward's best was 27, only Weinke and Danny Kanell have ever hurled 30 or more. 

By the end of the season Winston will likely have topped them all. 

In fact, it's possible at the end of his redshirt freshman year that Winston will have already rewritten the Florida State record books.

If anything, EJ Manuel -- who served as Winston's mentor last season -- can probably take solace in the fact that Winston isn't just outdoing him. Winston is on pace to out-do everybody who has ever played quarterback at FSU. That includes two Heisman winners, several first round draft picks and a Super Bowl winning QB.

Even Bobby Bowden said during yesterday's 49-17 win over NC State that Florida State's redshirt freshman signal caller might be the best to ever play at FSU. 

And the scary part for the rest of the country? 

Winston's best days are still ahead of him.

"I thought he played pretty well, I don't think he played great." said Jimbo Fisher yesterday, after Winston went 11/14 for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The game was over almost as quickly as it started. Winston played one series in the third quarter before taking the afternoon off. He finished the day with 292 yards passing and the Seminoles ahead 42-0.

"He keeps trying to make some big ones -- which he did -- he played really well early, made his deep balls and made some great throws and plays there," said Fisher, who's last three starting QB's were all selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. "But there are still some things I think he needs to clean up a little bit. I really do."

Winston echoed that sentiment during his post-game comments, saying that there was plenty to clean up, that he had a lot to work on. So much, in fact, that Winston doesn't have time to pay attention touchdown marks and yardage totals.

Asked about the prospect of breaking some of the most sacred records at FSU, Winston didn't seem too interested.

“I’m just focused on playing Miami next week," he said.


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Going Polling: FSU Still Sitting Third in Coaches, AP Polls


The polls are out and Florida State is still ranked third in both of them.

In Coaches Poll the top five remain unchanged with Alabama, Oregon, FSU, Ohio State and Baylor all running 1-5. Worth noting though, FSU had a first place vote last week -- not anymore. Oregon, which had four first place votes a week ago, now has six after beating UCLA yesterday. Alabama has the rest.

FSU did gain some ground by picking up nine points total though, moving from 1410 to 1419 while Oregon picked up just one more point. They lead FSU by 64 points, with 1483.

Miami is 6th, Clemson is 8th and Virginia Tech -- who was upset by Duke -- is out of the poll.

FSU lost ground in the AP poll, but only slightly. The Seminoles saw their point total from votes cast drop by five this week, from 1395 to 1390. Incidentally, Oregon picked up five points. They lead FSU in the AP poll by 42. The Seminoles did hang on to both of their first place votes from last week's poll though.

After a Missouri loss to South Carolina the AP now has the same top five as the Coaches' poll, with Alabama, Oregon, FSU, Ohio State and Baylor sitting 1-5. As for other ACC schools, Miami is 7th and Clemson is 9th.


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Thoughts From the Morning After: FSU 49 NC State 17


Jimbo Fisher's team won handily yesterday. It took Florida State just 19 plays on offense -- a little under 13 minutes of gametime -- to hang 35 points and remove all doubt about the outcome. 

Florida State's offense looked so mighty through their first five possessions on Saturday that it was the officials making first down measurements -- and not the NC State defense -- that looked like the only ones who could slow down the Seminoles in the early going. 

"Offensively, we got sloppy in the second quarter which we need to correct," said Jimbo Fisher after the game. "[We] had some drops in the game and couple lacks of focus there, but [we] scored and did the things we had to do, but [we] need to play better."

"We kept our foot on the gas, we just got sloppy and let some opportunities get away. That just shows you how –- you guys wonder why a coach sometimes gets upset, how well you can be one minute and nothing change -- sometimes you have a lack of focus it’s hard to change it back. Momentum is a hard thing to change. [I’m] disappointed we allowed that to happen. We have to learn to allow that not to happen because we want to be aggressive and pound them. We’ll grow from that, learn from it and move on."

Florida State's first team offense amassed 436 yards and 42 points yesterday but afterwards many of the players admitted they weren't satisfied. After a jaw-dropping opening salvo the offense began to sputter a little bit in the second half.

"We left a lot of yards out there, a lot of points out there," said LT Cameron Erving.

Added WR Kenny Shaw: "We started out too, too fast to me. It was only fair that we got our mistakes out the way."

FSU's Defense

The Seminole defense made it count while their first team was on the field. FSU held NC State without a score and only allowed 85 yards in the first half. They also set the tone with a turnover on their opening series for the second week in a row.

“I mean it’s really big, it affects the offense's mentality when you come out like that and [force them to] turn the ball over in the first series," said LB Terrance Smith. "I mean it’s just a momentum setter for the defense. It sets the tone.”

Added S Terrence Brooks: "We hate them scoring first and then that takes us to get it going, we were like 'hey, why don’t we make plays and get ourselves going.'"

Brooks is referring to the knock on the Seminoles' defense earlier in the season -- that they weren't starting fast enough -- and how it's changed. A lot of that could be in the fact that this defense seems far better suited to defending a spread offense, which they've played against in their last three games. 

"I don’t know what it is, our coaches just gameplan very well," said Brooks. "They definitely want to send a rush and get a blitz going and just let us DB’s do our thing back there and I feel like that’s very good because our DB’s are very confident, they believe in their play, they’re aggressive and that’s what keeps us going."

Jalen Ramsey Acclimating to Safety

Jalen Ramsey is playing as well as any freshman in the country right now. If it weren't for some guy named Jameis Winston, then FSU fans would be seeing a whole lot more Ramsey headlines. After becoming the first true freshman to start a game at corner since Deion Sanders did it, Ramsey moved to safety to replace Tyler Hunter at safety about a month ago. 

"I’m getting a lot more comfortable with him back there," said Brooks, who plays opposite Ramsey. "He’s really learned the defense, he’s applied himself very well to it. He’s just been playing with a lot of confidence, that’s what I like about him, he’s still being aggressive.

"I still make sure he knows his calls, knows where to line up. But now what we do -- now that he knows the plays and what to do -- we try to disguise a lot more and just have some personality about the defense."

More Thoughts From the Morning After:

##- Kelvin Benjamin's hand is fine. X-Rays came back negative:

"The hand is good, it was a tweak so we checked it. It was all fine," said Benjamin last night. "Helmet just hit my knuckles and it was hurting."

##- Nick O'Leary tied the FSU record for TD receptions in a career by a tight end yesterday on his first quarter 14-yard touchdown reception.

##- Tim Jernigan on whether he'd ever left a game so early:

“Never man, this season’s been interesting. We actually as a defense haven’t played a full game but once this season, that was Boston College, but that’s a good thing I guess.”

##- Telvin Smith on whether it was hard to watch the second half from the bench:

“It definitely was. Just because we wanted to make a statement and of course [did] but we didn’t want to let them score anything. We just had to let those younger guys get their feet wet to see what they could do.”

##- Roberto Aguayo is still perfect, he's now made his first 58 consecutive kick. The previous record was 54 -- set by Dustin Hopkins. At his current pace, Aguayo is going to be erasing Hopkins' name from the FSU record books a lot over the next four years. The redshirt freshman is still on pace to beat Hopkin's career points record before the end of his junior year. 


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

FSU's Fisher Not Worried About Style Points


By the time the no. 3 Florida State Seminoles walked back into their locker room at halftime their game with NC State was -- for all intents and purposes -- over. It was probably done at the two-minute mark in the first quarter when the 'Noles had already reeled off 35 points in just 19 offensive plays.

But definitely by the half.

“They told us at halftime that we were done for the rest of the game," said LB Terrance Smith last night.

FSU's starting defense didn't take the field again and their offense saw just one more possession while Jimbo Fisher rested his team. 

"We got up real big, real early," said WR Kelvin Benjamin. "So I feel like it was a big boss decision to take us out because we’ve got a big game next week and he really didn’t want any injuries to occur."

The totals for FSU's starters? 42 points and 436 yards on offense. Zero points and just 85 yards allowed on defense. The performance of FSU's first team -- even with a second quarter lull by the offense -- more than spoke for itself on Saturday.

The problem is the pollsters. Not just this weekend but moving forward.

There will be voters that didn't watch Saturday's game and may not even seek out a highlight of it. There will be voters who form their opinions entirely on the basis of a box score. And with FSU currently playing BCS musical chairs with Oregon and Alabama style points matter. 

“That’s a lot of stuff we were talking about on the sideline," said senior LB Telvin Smith. "You know we were trying to get those younger guys more into it and pushing those guys because when people look at this game they’re not going to say the second team of the Florida State defense, they’re going to say the Florida State defense allowed 17 points, 300-something yards."

Added senior LB Christian Jones: “We were just talking about that -- some of the guys in the locker room -- we understand the coaches are trying to keep the starters healthy, I’m not saying they’re looking forward to the next game, but, you know.

"We’ve got some younger guys that can play as well but that’s just [the coaches'] decision to do so we just went with it. But whatever the box score comes out with we know how good we are, so we don’t really need them to tell us.”

FSU knows how good they are. So does anybody that's watched them. The problem is not everyone that's voting does watch them. 

FSU's fate this year will not be entirely self determined. Even if they win out a scenario exists where they could find themselves on the outside of the title game looking in. Like it or not, Florida State needs the voters' affirmation. 

“I don’t care. I’m not going to go out there and embarrass this game and the integrity of how you’ve got to play. If that’s the way they’re going to do it, then they need to reevaluate," said Jimbo Fisher.

“If they can’t tell that we dominated that game early and put it away -- if that’s the way it’s going to be, and I don’t know how they’ll do it -- I just think that’s bad for college football, in my opinion. I think it’s bad for the game.”


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October 26, 2013

Rapid Reaction: FSU 49 NC State 17


Florida State put together a 35-point, 13-minute burst in the first quarter and coasted the rest of the way to a victory on Saturday afternoon, winning 49-17. 

Jameis Winston and company got just one drive on offense to start the second half and the starting defense never made it back out on to the field after halftime.

A week after a very physical game at Clemson the Seminoles essentially took the second half off today, resting starters and making sure to stay healthy as the unbeaten Miami Hurricanes head to town next weekend. 

While many Florida State fans would probably have liked to beat NC State by a little more -- especially given the sentiments left over from last year's upset -- the Seminoles probably couldn't have fared much better on Saturday.

Rather than getting involved in a slugfest that took them down to the final seconds -- a la Miami earlier in the day -- FSU had a win in hand and their starters out just minutes into the third quarter. 

On a day when Florida State celebrated Bobby Bowden, the Seminoles did their best impression of the teams from his hey-day. There was even a punt-rooskie -- done in homage to arguably the most famous play in Bowden's career -- included in the festivities. 

The second half of this one is going to raise a few eyebrows though. 

Will poll voters consider the fact FSU had most of its starters out two minutes into the 2nd half? That depends on whether you think voters do more than glance at a box score before casting their ballots. Some do -- they might. Some don't -- that's where an impressive win starts to fade a little bit because of the second half.

But lost in the minutiae of that second half are a few points that are worth noting. For starters, Jacob Coker is in an extremely unenviable position every time he comes in. While Winston plays with three extremely gifted receivers and an offensive line dotted with NFL talent, Coker plays with freshmen and walk-ons. 

You really can't evaluate Winston against Coker based on the players lining up around them. 

The same goes for FSU's defense in the second half. FSU's starters allowed NC State just 85 first-half yards and no points. Then they took the rest of the afternoon off. The Seminoles probably could have put up 50 or 60 points had they left their starters in. 

That wasn't the gameplan. 

Instead they should head into next week's highly anticipated Miami game -- ESPN's College Gameday announced in the second half they will be in Tallahassee next Saturday -- healthy and well-rested. 

Jameis Winston finished the day 17/26 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Rashad Greene lead the way with 137 yards and a touchdown and Nick O'Leary tied the FSU career record for TD's by a tight end. 

It is now officially Miami week.


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Halftime: FSU 42 NC State 0


Bobby Bowden had barely gotten back to his seat following the pre-game festivities before this game was -- for all intents and purposes -- over. Florida State needed just five offensive plays to put up 14 points and had this game under control from the opening gun.

Any concerns about Florida State's mindset or preparation were answered almost immediately today. On the second play of the game Terrence Brooks covered considerable ground getting back on what looked like an overthrown Brandon Mitchell deep ball and picked it off.

Jameis Winston then lead Florida State on an opening drive that consisted of four plays -- three first downs and an 18-yard touchdown run -- to put the Seminoles up early.

They didn't look back.

After a three-and-out Winston found Kelvin Benjamin for a 39-yard touchdown on the very next play. It was 14-0 after five offensive snaps and FSU kept their foot down throughout the whole first quarter, dropping 35 points on NC State and holding the Wolfpack to just 32 offensive yards. 

Jameis Winston -- with three first quarter touchdown passes -- matched EJ Manuel's career-high for touchdown passes in a season. Manuel had 23 over 14 games last season. Winston has 23 through six and a quarter this year. The Florida State record is held by Chris Weinke who chucked 33 in 2000. Suffice it to say that's in danger. 

In addition to Brooks, Ronald Darby also had a first-half pick and Florida State regularly got pressure on Mitchell. NC State started to move the ball a little better in the second quarter -- when their players began running North-South instead of going side-to-side -- but Mitchell has been running for his life for most of the afternoon.

Offensively for FSU the second quarter was no where near as productive as the first. Florida State saw several drives fizzle out before a fake punt on 4th-and-7 late in the quarter got things sparked again. FSU has now scored at least 41 points in every game this season.

The Seminoles get the ball back at the start of the second half.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (15/24, 277, 3TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-62, 2 TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (8-137, TD) 


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Pregame: NC State at FSU


A lot of things are going on this afternoon at Florida State. Bobby Bowden is back for the first time since 2009. There are over 300 former players on hand to celebrate. There have been festivities galore.

Oh, and there's a football game today.

That last part seems to have been largely looked by everyone -- the media included -- except for Florida State.

The Seminoles are still angry about last year and -- up and down the roster -- have talked about what this game means to them. They are not overlooking this game. Miami week starts tomorrow for Florida State. Today is a revenge game... 

...at least that's what they're saying.

They said they were focused heading into NC State last year too. We'll know by tonight.

Here's your game capsule:

FSU Welcomes Back Bobby Bowden [From Print]
Jimbo Fisher Loves BCS Computers Now [From Print]
Previewing the Opponent
Five Things to Watch For
FSU Injury List
Seminoles Still Sick over Last Year's NC State Loss

Other Coverage:

'You Don't Know the Sacrifices This Defense Has Made'
'ESPN gonna ESPN'
Matthew Thomas Out for Season
Devonta Freeman: 'Come on, I'll Block You'


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Five Things to Watch For: NC State at FSU


Here are five things to watch for when North Carolina State visits Tallahassee today.

1.) Florida State's Composure

All week -- up and down the roster -- Florida State has talked about how sick they still are over last year's upset to NC State. Jimbo Fisher has in turn tried to use that pain to focus his team and keep them from paying too much attention to their BCS rankings or the Miami game in two weeks. That could be a brilliant move but there's also a chance it could backfire a bit too. So far this Florida State team has played with great maturity, harnessing their anger and using it to punish opponents. But a controlled rage is just one swell of emotion from becoming a 15-yard penalty or missed assignment. If FSU comes out too amped -- if they let themselves get too angry -- it could be detrimental. 

Odds are -- given what this team has been like through six games -- it will be a non-issue. But it could be, and it's worth noting.

2.) What Does This Defense Do?

Florida State's defense seems to have turned a corner the past two games. Against two ranked opponents FSU has surrendered just 14 points the past eight quarters -- seven of which were garbage times points against back-ups. Willie Jones Sr., Christian's father, told me earlier this week that he thinks Jeremy Pruitt's unit is still only scraping the surface of its potential. If that's true, NC State could be in trouble. 

3.) Karlos Williams

I'm just going to keep writing this until it happens, but eventually Karlos Williams is going to start getting meaningful carries and when he does Florida State is going to wish it had started giving them to him earlier. James Wilder Jr. is out today, he suffered a concussion last week and will miss today's game. That opens the door for Williams to finally get a good share of attempts and against an NC State line that has given up some yardage on the ground, that could be all the talented junior needs.

4.) Jameis Winston

Through six games Winston has been excellent. Conventional wisdom says that won't change today -- but anything can happen. That being said, it's not the numbers Winston puts up or even the way the team plays for him, it's the way it all looks. Seminoles fan or not, you can't deny that when Winston has the ball in his hands there are few players in college football that are more exciting. Against an NC State defense that's a little suspect, that could mean big things today.

5.) The Return of Bobby Bowden

Of course I had to toss this in. Today marks the first time that Bobby Bowden will be back at Florida State since the 2009 season. Nearly 300 players will be on hand, Bobby will plant the spear. FSU fans won't want to miss it.


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October 25, 2013

Previewing the Opponent: NC State Wolfpack


NC State Wolfpack
Record: 3-3 (0-3 ACC)
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
All-Time: FSU Leads 22-11

Overview: This is the game that Florida State fans have been looking forward to since last year. If you remember -- and it's unlikely that Seminoles fans have forgotten -- NC State beat FSU 17-16 last October. It was a brutal upset. Up 16-0 at the half Florida State's offense would go quiet while the 'Pack eked out just enough against FSU's defense to stun the Seminoles and end their title hopes.

But as Florida State's players and coaches have said all week, this is a different year and a different team. That doesn't make them any less sick over it, but that's especially true in light of the coaching change NC State made at the end of last season. This Wolfpack team will more closely resemble last year's Orange Bowl opponent, Northern Illinois -- Dave Doeren's former team -- than it will the team that FSU met in Raleigh last season.

How FSU Stacks Up: Provided Florida State doesn't come out too amped or flat, they outclass NC State. That's not to say that the Wolfpack don't still do things well, but they are 0-3 in the ACC and the common opponent they share with FSU -- Clemson -- handled NC State in Raleigh. 

Dave Doeren is a very good coach, NC State is going to improve under him but his players are not in yet and his system is not running the way it did at NIU. Look for Florida State to work on shutting down the run game early and forcing NC State to become one dimensional on offense. Florida State has one of the top secondaries in the nation -- as it proved against a much more potent Clemson passing attack last weekend -- and the quicker Jeremy Pruitt's unit can force Brandon Mitchell to air it out the better.

Offensively the Seminoles are going to go out and do what they have all season. Cam Erving said this week that they don't believe in letting a defense dictate what they're going to do, they dictate tempo. A lot of times that's just talk. This year -- given the evidence -- I'd argue that's probably true. James Wilder Jr. will be out Saturday as he continues to work back from a concussion he suffered last weekend which means that Devonta Freeman should see a few more carries and Karlos Williams will also see more playing time. Then there's that Jameis Winston fellow and those acrobatic receivers -- look for them to get involved at some point too.

Provided Florida State doesn't repeat the mistakes of last year, this should be a good Saturday for the folks in Tallahassee. Bobby Bowden will plant the spear before the game as FSU celebrates his return and then the Seminoles will look to get revenge against the team that embarrassed them last year.

But don't look for NC State to just roll over either.

"They’re coming off a bye week. They’ll be rested, they’ll be healed. They’ll get guys back on the field. They’ll have a lot of time to study, bring in new wrinkles to the game," said Jimbo Fisher on Monday. "(We’ve) got to get our kids focused and move on, I think they will. They understand that. We’ll get a good week of practice, get rested and get ready mentally and prepare to play this week and win the game during the week with that preparation.

Three Players to Watch:

1.) Brandon Mitchell, QB -- Back from an injury this weekend, if NC State wants a repeat of last year he will have to have a big game.

2.) Bryan Underwood, WR -- The Wolfpack's leading receiver is tied for 10th all time at NC State in career touchdown receptions.

3.) Jack Tacho, CB -- The freshman had two interceptions in NC State's last game.

Quote of the Week: "I remember the day he retired – it rained for three days straight in Tallahassee. He never came around after that and I haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s a legend – I came here to play for Coach Bowden first. He’s a legend and I wanted to play for a legend, and I was lucky enough to be on the team for a year.”

-RS Sr. C Bryan Stork on Bobby Bowden


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