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4 posts from December 7, 2013

December 07, 2013

Halftime: ACC Championship Game -- FSU 17 Duke 0


The Duke Blue Devils have made life very difficult on the Florida State Seminoles early on in this one. FSU is up 17-0, but it hasn't been easy.

For the first time since 2012 -- when FSU hosted Florida -- the Seminoles didn't score a point in the first quarter.

FSU got close, Devonta Freeman was just feet from the goal-line on the second Florida State drive of the game, but after running for 22 yards the junior coughed it up at the three and Duke recovered.

The Blue Devils almost capitalized on the turnover too. Duke drove all the way down to the Seminole 30 -- converting a 3rd-and-16 at one point -- before a missed field goal caused the drive to go for naught. Had the Blue Devils scored it would have marked the first time the Seminoles have trailed in a game since late September (Boston College).

Duke has squandered three opportunities with the ball in FSU territory so far.

Florida State didn't get started on offense until the end of the first quarter when they managed to drive 64 yards in nine plays and Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin in the endzone. Even then, it was not the typical Florida State offensive drive.

So far Jameis Winston has not looked Heisman-like. He's missed on several throws -- including a late 2nd quarter INT -- and has struggled with the different looks Duke is throwing at him. 

Duke has held Florida State's offense in check for most of the first half. Anytime the Seminoles bring more than two receivers on the field they've dropped their safeties deep before the snap. Anytime FSU brings in a big set they load the box. 

Credit David Cutcliffe for an excellent gameplan. The Blue Devils seem acutely aware of the Seminoles' tendencies and they are playing the odds well on almost every down. 

But Jimbo Fisher had a few tricks up his sleeve too.

At the end of the first half, Fisher responded to Duke's guesswork with something they hadn't seen yet -- Florida State began to run an option set.

First Winston ran a read-option, then a traditional option where he cut back against the grain rather than pitch it. By the time FSU handed it to Karlos Williams for a 12-yard touchdown run, Duke was on its heels.

FSU hasn't run an option package all season. Credit Fisher for breaking tendency and whipping out a new wrinkle when the Seminoles needed it most.

The Seminoles also added a late score on a Robert Aguayo 45-yard field goal.

This game isn't over though. Not by a long shot.

Duke is scrappy, they tackle well and they believe that they belong in this game now after a very solid first half. 

This one could come down to the fourth quarter. Or FSU could go on a run early in the third. It's still too early to tell.

Check back after the game for rapid reaction.

Statistical Leaders

Passing: Jameis Winston (12/21 171, TD, INT)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-49)
Receiving: Kelvin Benjamin (3-41 TD)


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Report: Jimbo Fisher Extended at Florida State


The Palm Beach Post's Tom D'Angelo is reporting that Florida State and Jimbo Fisher have agreed to an extension that will make him one of the top ten highest paid coaches in football.

Per D'Angelo:

"Under the new deal Fisher will average about $4.1 million a season, sources have told the Palm Beach Post. The length of the contract will be five to seven years. Fisher’s base salary of $2.75 million this season was 21st nationally.

An announcement is expected early next week."

Fisher could have potentially become a target for a program like Texas if he wasn't given the deal quickly.

Athletic Director Stan Wilcox declined to comment when asked about Fisher's status a few weeks ago. Apparently, that didn't mean he wasn't already working on a new deal for FSU's 48 year-old head coach.

The extension is well-deserved. Fisher took over a 7-6 program four years ago, since then FSU has won 12 games twice and is (as of this writing) playing for its second straight ACC title and a berth in the BCS title game.

Keep checking for updates. 


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Pregame: ACC Championship -- FSU vs. Duke


Florida State and Duke are just a little under two hours from squaring off in the ACC Championship Game.

Conventional wisdom says this should be a coronation for the Seminoles. FSU is the top-ranked team in the country, it is loaded with NFL talent and the Seminoles are 18-0 all-time against the Blue Devils.

That being said, Duke isn't going to just roll over for Florida State tonight. The Blue Devils are scrappy too.

This could be a very good game. 

Or it could be completely lop-sided.

Should be fun to find out. Keep checking back throughout the game for rapid reaction and analysis from Charlotte.

Here's your game capsule:

FSU-Duke Preview [From Print]
Previewing the Opponent: Duke Blue Devils
Five Things to Watch
Injury Report


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Five Things to Watch For: ACC Championship Game


Here are five things to watch for when Duke and Florida State meet in tonight's ACC Championship Game. 

1.) Can Duke Hang Tight Early?

If Florida State comes out early and hangs a couple of easy scores this one could get out of hand before the half. That's not a shot at Duke, either. FSU had the game well in hand on the road against Clemson by halftime too. If the Seminoles get hot early look out.

The key for Duke will be to hang tight early and try to frustrate Florida State into some costly errors. Again, no disrespect to Duke but the Blue Devils just cannot afford to get into a slugfest with a team that out-classes them in terms of talent. They need to play smart, make FSU drive the whole field for points, limit big plays and take advantage of their opportunities. If they can hang in the game until late, they will have a chance. If FSU jumps ahead early though, this one could be finished quickly. 

2.) Does FSU Come Out With Their Foot on the Gas?

The Seminoles have the talent advantage on both sides of the ball. Whether or not they attempt to push that advantage early could determine a lot. If FSU comes out early and can take a few deep shots and hit on a big play or two it could serve to demean a very gritty Duke team. The Blue Devils will likely attempt to keep everything in front of them, give their secondary help and force the Seminoles to dink and dunk them. If FSU can blow that strategy up early, their offense could wreak havoc. 

3.) Will the Weather Have an Impact?

It's overcast and cold in Charlotte. It's only going to get colder as the game continues too. Will that have any impact on FSU -- normally a warm weather team -- in the greater scheme of things?

"That’s just a mindset – you have to go play and it’s like that every year we play up there," said Jimbo Fisher. "It was like that way three years ago when we played Virginia Tech and we played pretty well. It was cool last year too, it wasn’t warm at all either and it’s just that time of year.”

4.) 1,000 Yards?

Several players have a chance to go over 1,000 yards on the season today. Rashad Greene is the closest, needing just 86 yards to reach the mark. Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin are both in the 800's and would need a huge day to reach the milestone. Meanwhile Devonta Freeman remains FSU's last best hope to be the first 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn. Freeman has 852 rushing yards, he needs 148 to hit 1,000. That being said, Freeman has only had more than 20 carries twice this season.

5.) Pasadena-bound?

Florida State is 60 minutes from playing for a BCS title -- the last BCS title -- in Pasadena. It's been a long time coming for Seminoles fan. FSU hasn't played for a national title since 2000 and hasn't won one since 1999. Four short years ago the Seminoles started 2-4 -- including a loss to USF -- and had to scratch and claw just to finish over .500. WIth a good game tonight they could be 13-0 for the first time in school history.


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



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