TSX Inside Slant: Florida State

There was no understating the importance of Florida State's victory over Brigham Young, so coach Jimbo Fisher took the honest assessment. "This was huge for the season," Fisher said. "It was about how they were going to respond. Oklahoma beat us. They didn't break us. Our kids' spirit was there and they believed in one another."

A week after being embarrassed in Norman, Okla., with the blowout loss to the Sooners, the Seminoles righted themselves in the same manner they did last season when they won at BYU.

But the next week, remember, Florida State lost a shocking home game to South Florida and struggled from that point on.

This time, Fisher gave his team a clear message about the future, yelling, "Next week, conference begins."

The Seminoles start ACC play at home Saturday against Wake Forest, a team that has given them fits during the past several years. Given the state of the conference, it's easy to forecast a wide open race for division titles.

"I'm not saying we turned the corner," Fisher said. "I'm saying that we won a football game that we needed to win. We won one football game. Now we need to go win another one."

In beating BYU, the Seminoles' biggest improvement was defense. The Seminoles were able to generate a pass rush and make some plays in the secondary.

"It could have gone either way with us," said quarterback Christian Ponder. "We could have come out and felt sorry for ourselves, but we came out and were motivated."

Florida State led, 13-10, at halftime, sending murmurs through the crowd. But in the second half, the Seminoles quickly took control and put the game away.

But Florida State has been down this road before, winning impressive one week, appearing to be inept the next. The important issue heading into the Wake Forest game is sustaining a consistent level.

"That's how you have to look at it, we're on to the next one," said wide receiver Bert Reed, who caught nine passes for 89 yards. "We're just building on each win -- each game, not just each win -- and we're trying to get where we need to go."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Florida State players said they got a lift from their coach, after Jimbo Fisher berated officials for a no-call in the second quarter on a visible facemask incident involving Seminoles' wide receiver Bert Reed and a BYU defensive back. Fisher charged the officiating crew on the sideline and engaged in an angry conversation.

"You could see the fans in the stands (react) and it is something that we needed," defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. "Coach isn't going to back down from the officials or anybody else."

Fisher openly talked about the incident after the game.

"They ripped his helmet off," Fisher said. "They missed some calls. And when they do I'm going to let them know. It's nothing personal. I'm going to battle and scratch and fight for our kids too. We got to bring emotion."

--The Seminoles rushed for 278 yards, one of their best performances on the ground in years. Ty Jones added 95 yards in support of lead rusher Chris Thompson. Many of his carries were through the middle and of the tackle-breaking variety.

"They did phenomenal," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

--The Seminoles continue to struggle in selling tickets. The crowd for Brigham Young was announced at 68,795, roughly 15,000 under capacity and only 300 more fans than the disappointing season-opening crowd, which was blamed on an early kickoff time and weak opponent. Florida State announced 68,438 for the opener against Division I-AA Samford on Sept. 4.

GAME BALL GOES TO: TB Chris Thompson -- He produced his best game for Florida State, gaining 123 yards on only nine carries, led by his 83-yard touchdown run that gave the Seminoles a 13-0 lead in the first half. That was part of a much better running game for the Seminoles.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Brandon Jenkins -- The sophomore was a key part of the Seminoles' improved defensive effort against BYU. He had four tackles, including two sacks, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. He was chosen as the team's most improved defensive lineman following spring practice and he's starting to show that progress in games that count.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The sky's not always falling, and we're not ready to win the Super Bowl either. We're somewhere in-between." -- Coach Jimbo Fisher, on where his team stands after three games.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: The secondary. After being shredded by Oklahoma, largely on short screen passes, the Seminoles did not yield a passing play longer than 16 yards against BYU. The Seminoles' defensive backs, led by corners Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid, atoned for bad performances last week by breaking up five passes and getting an interception from Rhodes.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The passing game. QB Christian Ponder was sacked three times and passed for only 149 yards on 21 throws. Aside from Bert Reed, the Seminoles are having problems getting a receiver to make plays. Three other receivers each had only one catch and the Seminoles again seemed sluggish on offense in the first half.

ROSTER REPORT:

--LT Andrew Datko (shoulder) did not play against Brigham Young, breaking a streak of 27 consecutive starts. He was not listed on the injured list prior to the game, but coach Jimbo Fisher said a decision was made the night before the game to hold out Datko. The junior has battled left shoulder issues since preseason camp.

--Redshirt freshman T Henry Orelus got his first college start in place of Datko. "He did a great job," Fisher said. "We were over there making corrections, and his name didn't come up very often." Orelus had been working on the first team much of preseason when Datko was injured, and worked with the No. 1 offense during the week of practice.

--QB Christian Ponder said he was still a "little swollen"" from a hit to his right triceps (near the shoulder that was operated on last year) last week against Oklahoma. Ponder said the injury did not affect his performance vs. BYU.


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