FSU‘s defense dominated the team‘s second preseason scrimmage Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, recording 10 sacks and making life difficult for FSU quarterbacks and receivers.
While the Seminoles busted two long scoring plays and starting tailback Greg Jones ripped off a punishing 26-yard run during situational drills as his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery continues, FSU coach Bobby Bowden admitted plenty of work remains.
"It wasn't a bad scrimmage," Bowden said.
"The offense ran it better than they threw it. We didn't do well throwing and catching the ball. The main thing is to keep getting better."
FSU's defensive line recorded eight of the unit's 10 sacks, with tackle Charles Howard finishing with four. Starting quarterback Chris Rix struggled with his accuracy, finishing 5 of 11 for 76 yards with a 54-yard scoring pass to redshirt freshman Chris Davis.
Second-team quarterback Fabian Walker wasn't much better (4 of 12 for 32 yards), but he did score on a scrimmage-long 62-yard touchdown run off an option. Third-team quarterback Wyatt Sexton had the trio's best stats, finishing 7 of 14 for 41 yards, including a 15-yard strike to Davis.
Davis led all receivers with two catches for 59 yards.
Bowden, meanwhile, credited the Seminoles' defense for the team's quarterback struggles. Let's not also forget the Seminoles' offensive line continues to experience growing pains due to numbers and a lack of proven depth.
"It's not sharp. It's not even close to sharp," Bowden said of his QB play.
"I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about, because the offense is trying different things. When you run different plays, you lose your continuity. And a lot of his (Rix) and Fabian's throwing is the the defense is getting all over them."
Indeed. Despite a fine defensive effort, starting free safety B.J. Ward says the Seminoles must continue to create turnovers.
"It was a positive scrimmage," Ward said.
"We still let a couple big plays pop out on us, but for the most part it was productive. But we still need to make more turnovers. We talk so much about that. That's been a big thing we are trying to get corrected in practice. We've held them from scoring. Now it's a matter of making big plays."
The defense also flexed its muscle on the goal line, stopping the offensive five of eight times. The offense scored and a Walker pass to P.K. Sam over Stanford Samuels and back-to-back running plays by Jones and fullback Torrance Washington.
"We did pretty good but we still have another two weeks to get better," rover Kyler Hall said.
"Both ones and twos (defense) we had three three-and-outs and that's always good to stop ‘em and get off the field. That's one good thing, not having the long drives. We gave up two long touchdowns -- one was a pass and one was an option. The option was my fault. I should have come up and made the play. If we can get rid of the long plays and get more three and outs, we will be alright. We are on track."
FSU was ranked 13th in the Associated Press preseason poll Saturday. Nebraska was left out of the poll for the first time in 33 years, giving the Seminoles the longest current streak of being included in the preseason poll with 21 consecutive appearances. FSU is also the highest-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team in the poll, followed by No. 15 Maryland, No. 16 North Carolina State and No. 18 Virginia.