TSX Report: Florida State

Slowly but surely, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher believes the Seminoles are learning how to win again. He will find out more Oct. 9, of course, when FSU (4-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has its annual defining game against Miami, but for now, Fisher likes the approach.

The Seminoles easily disposed of Virginia in a 34-14 victory that was virtually sealed by halftime. It was a surprisingly thorough win, one of FSU's best road efforts in recent seasons.

Fisher sees the Seminoles transferring an improved mindset in practice with performance in games.

"When you come into a meeting now, (the team) is in there 10 minutes before it starts," Fisher said. "When I'm talking there aren't sets of eyes rolling around. They are looking at me. They are understanding the importance they have to another. They are learning to focus.

"They are learning to prepare. They understand that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday they are getting set. They are understanding they can't just get ready on Friday night. They are learning how to come into the game and compete. It's just part of maturing and it's a great thing to see."

But he'll learn more when the Seminoles travel to face the Hurricanes. This matchup now has a completely different dynamic since Miami moved away from the Orange Bowl Stadium and plays in spacious Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins.

There will be a large throng of FSU supporters at the game, providing more of a neutral field setting.

The Seminoles believe they are on the right path. They believe they've learned and improved from the Oklahoma loss on Sept. 11. They believe they can win the ACC Atlantic Division.

We'll find out Oct. 9 against the best opponent FSU will face until maybe the season-finale against Florida.

The Seminoles have now outscored their last three opponents 99-24 heading into this rivalry game.

But as former coach Bobby Bowden was often fond of saying, "Nothing means nothing until Miami."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Seminoles defense added to its national lead in quarterback sacks after getting six against Virginia. That makes 25 for the season, which is 12 more sacks than FSU generated the entire 2009 season.

"Dadgum ... we had six sacks again (they had six sacks last week versus Wake Forest)," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They (Cavaliers) have some big guys up front, but we pushed the pocket. We got tired but continued to push that pocket and that's a good thing to see."

--WR Willie Haulstead had just four catches through the first three games. Against Virginia, he produced a second straight five-catch game that included a career-high 79 yards and a touchdown.

--The Seminoles' defensive streak of holding opponents scoreless reached eight quarters, until Virginia's Kris Burd snapped the streak with his third-quarter touchdown. Meanwhile, FSU's offense has strung together three consecutive games of 31 or more points, the first time that has happened in six years.

--The Virginia game marked the first time the Seminoles have faced the Cavaliers in the afternoon in Charlottesville, Va. All other games between these two teams in Charlottesville have been played at night and televised on ESPN.

GAME BALL GOES TO: TB Jermaine Thomas -- In what has almost seemed a rotation of featured tailbacks in games, this was Thomas' turn to shine. He produced 122 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, all highlighted by a 70-yard scoring run that was a career long for Thomas.

KEEP AN EYE ON: CB Greg Reid -- Just in time for the Miami game, Reid had a performance that should boost his already-confident ego. He produced two interceptions and five tackles, matching the team high with four solo stops. One of interceptions followed his fumble on a punt return and he promised FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher he would get the ball back. He did just that on the ensuing possession.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The biggest thing that I'm happy about is we didn't look forward to that game. We focused on this game and took care of what we had to take care of. We have a lot of momentum going into the next game, but we can't really think that's going to carry over. And we can't forget how we got here." -- Florida State QB Christian Ponder on the Seminoles' approach in beating Virginia without looking ahead to the Oct. 9 game at Miami.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: The Seminoles defense was outstanding again. The group pitched a shutout in the first half, which allowed for a comfortable halftime lead. They limited Virginia to just 42 yards total offense in the first half.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The receivers need to produce more yards after a catch. Of the 17 passes caught, only one went for longer than 19 yards. The Seminoles must develop a better vertical passing game to further set up opportunities for QB Christian Ponder to make big plays.

ROSTER REPORT:

--LB Mister Alexander (concussion), S Nick Moody(knee) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) each left the game with injuries and did not return. LT Andrew Datko (ankle) did not dress out for the third straight game.

--Zebrie Sanders, who normally starts at right tackle, was inserted into Datko's position. Freshman Henry Orelus took over Sanders' spot at right tackle.

--TB Ty Jones (ankle) was held out to provide rest and assure availability for the Miami game.


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