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4 posts from November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013

Rapid Reaction: FSU 80 Idaho 14


Florida State handled their business against Idaho on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn't the best they've looked this season, wasn't the sharpest, but the Seminoles had little trouble dispatching the Vandals 80-14.

FSU amassed 645 yards of total offense, including 336 on the ground. Devonta Freeman lead the way with 129 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, Karlos Williams had 114 yards and two scores on 10, James Wilder Jr had a TD and 85 yards on four carries and Ryan Green accounted for 48 total yards and caught a TD.

The receivers had a nice day too with Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin both hauling in two TD's and Shaw going for over 100 yards for the first time this season.

But one thing the box score will not show on Sunday morning is how undisciplined the Seminoles looked at points in this game.

Despite scoring more points than FSU had ever scored at any point in its history, this was hardly the Seminoles' best game. There were defensive penalties and miscues, poor tackling, coverage mistakes and moments where it looked as if the Vandals had more interest in the game than the Seminoles did.

Credit Idaho for playing hard. The Vandals were out-matched but they fought with everything they had against the Seminoles and were able to head home with a few moral victories -- namely a ten play, 63 yard touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter.

That's not to say Florida State wasn't impressive at points on Saturday. The defense held Idaho to just 59 rushing yards, Tim Jernigan had three sacks and they scored on a couple of interception returns.

But the poise --the focus -- was not as strong as it has been in weeks past. For the first time all season Florida State looked as though some of the distractions of the past couple weeks had taken a toll.

Jimbo Fisher swore up and down in build-up to this game that his team was focused and having a great week of practice -- and they played like it at times today -- but it's hard to imagine doubts weren't beginning to seep in. It's not just ESPN or sports television covering this situation anymore, you can't turn on the TV, period, without seeing Jameis Winston and Florida State in the news.

For his part Winston was excellent on Saturday. Not his best, but still excellent. The redshirt freshman went 14/25 for 225 yards and four touchdowns. He's now tied for second all-time at FSU for touchdowns in a season with Danny Kannell -- one behind Chris Weinke for the record. 

In fact, with Johnny Manziel failing to impress and Oregon laying an egg, were it not for the sexual assault allegations swirling around Winston, he'd probably have won the Heisman trophy today.

As it stands though, state attorney Willie Meggs indicated on Saturday -- via another interview with Associated Press -- that he likely won't have a decision on whether to charge Winston until after Thanksgiving.

That means the distractions will drag on for another week and FSU will have to continue to fight to block out those distractions and focus on football. 

Idaho was not the team to make the Seminoles pay. And frankly -- after losing to FCS Georgia Southern today at home -- UF might not be capable either. 

But it's going to get harder and harder for the Seminoles to stay the course, stay focused. And after showing signs of the strain -- albeit small ones -- on Saturday, this will be something to watch as Florida State continues its season.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (14/25, 225, 4TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (11-129, TD)
Receiving: Kenny Shaw (5-107, 2TD)


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

Halftime: FSU 42 Idaho 7


Is it possible to look sloppy and still blow a team out? Absolutely. And FSU is toeing that line so far against Idaho in the first half.

It's not that the Seminoles have looked bad -- the talent disparity between the two squads prevents that -- but there have been uncharacteristic mental errors on the 'Noles part throughout the first half. 

Make no mistake about it, FSU is dominating this game. But just beneath the surface have been tiny mistakes and mental errors that the Seminoles just have not made much this season.

Florida State took just seven plays to score on their first drive and have taken just five or six plays on each of their other four scoring drives. The offense has looked potent when it's clicking. 

Devonta Freeman has had plenty of room to run early, scoring on a 60 yarder and also ripping off a 25 yard run in the first half. James Wilder carried FSU's for a drive during the 2nd quarter and gained 85 yards and a touchdown on four carries. And Jameis Winston has been solid early on, throwing three touchdown passes on 13/23 passes for 204 yards.

But the mistakes were also there. On the second snap of the game the Seminoles blew a blitz pick-up resulting in a sack. Several possesions later a blown protection lead to fumble when Winston was hit attempting a pass. Even the receivers have looked a bit off at times, with Kelvin Benjamin dropping a wide-open touchdown pass that hit him in the hands.

Defensively the Seminoles have had a few mix-ups in coverage that Idaho was unable to exploit as well as some poor tackling that the Vandals were able to take advantage of. Dezmon Epps -- the Vandals leading receiver -- has been particularly elusive. On two separate occasions a Seminole defender has blasted him but failed to wrap up, resulting in a big run after the catch. 

They also gave up a 10 play, 63 yard touchdown drive to Idaho at the end of the second quarter.

The Seminoles have this game in hand, but at the midway point it does look as though their focus and poise have strained a little bit this week. 

Given the circumstances that's understandable. But it is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Jameis Winston (13/23, 204, 3TD)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-105, TD)
Receiving: Kenny Shaw (5-107, 2 TD)


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

Pregame: Idaho at FSU


It's Senior Day today at Florida State. Before the start of the game the Seminoles will honor one of the most important classes in the school's history.

With the exception of the fifth-year seniors -- the last holdovers from the Bobby Bowden era -- this was the first class Jimbo Fisher recruited on his own. They banded together with the joint goal of returning Florida State to prominence.

And they have.

When this class arrived, FSU was fresh off one of their worst season in decades. They'd gone 7-6 after starting 2-4. Bowden had been run out of town. Florida was still the top school in the state.

Today, when they walk across the field for the final time they will have left the program at FSU better than they found it. The Seminoles are 10-0, ranked second in the country and have just three games between themselves and a BCS Championship game in Pasadena. 

"It’s kind of sinking in and that group is so special. There’s so many – characters is not the word, I don’t mean it that way, just influential guys in our program’s history and what it meant and what it let us get to and how they’ve influenced the other guys in the organization," said Jimbo Fisher this week. "There’s some guys that I’ll never forget in that class. This is a tremendous group.”

Here's your pregame capsule:

Circus Continues to Swirl Around Florida State [From Print]
Previewing the Opponent
Five Things to Watch For
Injury Report

Check back for updates at halftime and after the game for rapid reactions...


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

Five Things to Watch For: Idaho at FSU


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

1.) Senior Day

If you're going to this game, get there early. Today Florida State will honor one of the most important senior classes in the school's history. When this group arrived at FSU, Bobby Bowden was done, the Seminoles had just scratched and clawed for a 7-6 season and nobody was talking about a national title in Tallahassee. Four years later they will walk on to Bobby Bowden field at Doak Campbell Stadium for the final time with their team 10-0 and on course to play in the BCS Championship game.

2.) Jameis Winston's Poise

Last week Winston was nearly perfect, completing 19 of his 21 passing attempts. But after another week of near-daily media blasts, rampant speculation and an impending fear he could be charged with a very serious crime, how does he handle himself today? So far Winston has been unflappable, whether it's a blitz or an exotic coverage -- or an off-field issue -- he has not been flustered all season. That's unlikely to change against Idaho, but every move he makes will be scrutinized and over-analzyed today -- just like it will be until this investigation wraps up.

3.) Second Team Defense

The 2014 and 2015 Florida State defense has seen a lot of playing time this season as a result of early leads and dominant play by the starters. That should continue today. Once again look for FSU's underclassmen to get a plenty of reps against the Vandals. Come next year, they'll have nearly a quarter of a season's worth of playing time under their belts. That's going to pay big dividends.

4.) Can They Stay Healthy

At this point in the season -- in the championship rounds as Jimbo Fisher calls them -- injuries are more detrimental than ever. If the Seminoles sustain a key injury or two today it could really impact them down the stretch. That -- as much as getting playing time for the younger guys -- is why you shouldn't expect to see the starters stay in too long once this game gets out of hand. Fisher needs his team to be healthy and will act to ensure that they are heading to Florida, the ACC Championship game and their bowl.

5.) Focus

How focused is Florida State, really? Last week they pummeled Syracuse 59-3 and Idaho is even more out-matched this week, but at some point all of the distractions are going to have to have some kind of an effect. This is too big to ignore. It won't manifest itself in any overt ways today, the talent disparity should ensure that, but signs that FSU isn't as poised or focused as it has been in weeks past could still be there and if they are -- especially with an upset-hungry Gator team waiting in Gainesville next weekend -- it could spell trouble for FSU down the road.


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



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