North Carolina 0
The 2003 Florida State Seminoles find themselves in the same position as the 2002 version, eager to put a season of disappointment behind them in a quest to return to the lofty heights of college football that were once taken for granted as a given for this program. Things didn't work out so well for the 2002 team in reaching those goals and this 2003 team has the additional burden of putting an embarrassing string of off-the-field problems behind them as well. Being "back" is not something that is going to happen in a single game, but the first step towards reaching those goals was taken in no uncertain terms last Saturday night in Chapel Hill, NC with a convincing 37-0 dismantling of the Tar Heels by a team that looks to have a newfound level of focus.
Given the number of question marks that we have coming into this season, by no means was this first game a complete answer to all of them. But it was definitely a solid first step in the right direction. The offensive line came through with a performance that was much better than expected. Chris Rix played like a team leader that wasn't going to try to do too much. Our defensive secondary played a much better overall game than any of their 2002 efforts that saw us hovering near the bottom of college football in the pass defense department. Jeff Bowden/Daryl Dickey answered many of their critics with a solid offensive gameplan and mostly unpredictable play-calling. But the biggest question mark that was answered positively in this game was regarding the status of Greg Jones' knee. That question was answered in the form of a single play, already being referred to as THE HIT, that will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Jones' career and even in Seminole history. So prolific was this hit on UNC's all-ACC safety Dexter Reid, that, in honor of the occasion, I have decided that for the remainder of this game summary I will be referring to The Beast as MISTER Jones, to give the proper level of respect for a running force the likes of which Seminole fans have never seen before.
Many question marks still remain about how this team will handle things when faced with stiffer competition than the Tar Heels could provide, so it would be unwise for us to bask in the glory of this achievement for long. But we also should recognize that this definitely was a strong statement put forward by the team that things are going to be different this year. Any time you can blank an opponent, you have to take that as a positive. This was our first shutout since the 2000 season against Louisville. Here's hoping it won't be the last this season. The defense definitely did its part in making this a fresh start to a new year that hopefully will see us put the last two seasons behind us.
On the offensive side, the Seminoles came out very focused on establishing a solid short passing game that effectively got the ball into the hands of our speedy skill players in space to give them room to make things happen. After this short passing attack was established, FSU then showed that our ground attack is going to be something to contend with this season. With the deepest stable of explosive tailbacks we've had in a long while, look for them to account for more than their share of the offensive load for us this year. In this game, we were able to get 340 of our 553 yards of offense (rushing & receiving) from the tailback position.
1. Two of the biggest question marks coming into the season was how Chris Rix was going to look and how the new receiving corps would do in rectifying our recent dropped pass epidemic. I'd have to say that Rix did a better job of answering the first question than our receivers did at answering the second. The play of the receivers seemed improved over last year, but we still had a fair number of drops in this game. The lowlights in the passing game included:
--Craphonso Thorpe couldn't quite bring in the pass on a deep corner route. On this play, it looked like he was lucky he didn't get called for a push off. It would have been a spectacular catch if he was able to bring it in, but he was bobbling the ball slightly as he went out of bounds.
--Incompletion on a deep out to Chris Davis. This was a good pass breakup the defender. The pass was a little high, but probably needed to be to get over another defender underneath.
--Incompletion on a deep out to P.K. Sam. This was another good pass breakup by the D.
--Chris Rix with an overthrow trying to hit Willie Reid on a deep sideline timing pattern.
--Willie Reid with a drop on a flare pass. At first I thought this was a bad pass by Rix, but watching it on replay, it looked like the ball was right where it needed to be and Reid just couldn't get his hands on it. This was a weird looking play.
--P.K. Sam with an 8 yard catch over the middle, but fumbled on the play to kill the drive.
--Incompletion on a post pass to Chris Davis in the end zone. Chris Rix led him just a little too much, but the announcers indicated that there might have been interference that was not called on the play.
--Incompletion to P.K. Sam on a fade pattern in the end zone.
--P.K. Sam with a dropped TD pass on another fade into the end zone.
--Chris Rix with an overthrow trying to hit P.K. Sam on a slant in the end zone. So the Rix to Sam connection misfired on three straight tries in the end zone, forcing us to settle for a field goal.
--Fabian Walker with an incompletion on an out pattern to Chauncey Stovall on a 3rd and 1 play. I didn't like the play call here as I thought we should try to run the ball to get the first down.
--Fabian Walker overthrew Donnie Carter on a flat pass.
--Chris Davis dropped a pass on a curl pattern thrown by Wyatt Sexton. The pass was a little high, but definitely catchable.
2. Our first drive stalled as a result of substantial confusion. First we were forced to call a time-out on a 3rd and 3 play as Willie Reid wasn't lined up correctly. I wish we would do a better job of preserving our timeouts for end of half/game situations because they are often very much needed and we find ourselves not having them. Given how our offense was clicking to this point, I think this timeout also helped the UNC defense more than it helped our offense, giving them time to regroup. Then we compounded the problem by getting a delay of game penalty coming out of the timeout. Ordinarily, I'd chalk this up to just being a first game problem, but this sort of thing has been a ongoing problem for us that is a habit we'd be well served to break.
3. Our pass protection was *much better* than expected. The only pass protection breakdowns that I noticed were:
--11 yard sack to kill our first drive: On this one UNC brought more guys than we could block as they rushed seven and we only had six to block them. Each of our linemen did block someone, so I'm not sure if the ABC announcer was correct in assigning blame for this sack on the OL due to a missed assignment. Ray Willis was beat to the outside. MISTER Jones took an outside rusher when he probably should have stopped the middle linebacker that had the quicker uncontested path to Chris Rix. Either way, Rix was going to have to elude an unblocked rusher and if MISTER Jones took the MLB, the corner blitzing on the play would have probably had a blind-side sack, so this may have been a no-win situation with UNC coming out of the timeout better prepared than we were.
--Pressure allowed by James Coleman and Willie Reid double teaming a pass rusher, but not sustaining their block, and John Frady getting beat badly, forced Fabian Walker to throw the ball away on a 4th and 10 play to kill a drive. On this play, Cory Niblock also didn't block anybody and Mario Henderson was caught holding.
4. We had a few problems in pass coverage, allowing 223 yards through the air on the night, but nothing terribly damaging as evidenced by the zero in the UNC scoring column. Our D did a good job of keeping everything in front of them to minimize the damage caused by UNC completions. I was a little bit disappointed with the pass coverage from our linebackers as coming into the season I expected this to be a strength of our D this year, but there were a few problems evident in this area that UNC was able to exploit to help sustain some of their drives. The lowlights for our pass defense included:
--11 yard catch allowed to TE Blizzard beating Michael Boulware in coverage.
--Pat Watkins missed a TFL on a swing pass to WR Pollack. We ended up stopping this play for only a 2 yard gain, but Watkins should have had the TFL here, so I felt it should be pointed out as we need to cut missed tackles to a minimum.
--11 yard catch allowed to WR Pollack for a 3rd and 4 conversion. Kyler Hall was late with the coverage here as UNC hit Pollack as a hot receiver in the area from where Kendyll Pope was blitzing. Thiu was just a well executed play by UNC.
--17 yard catch allowed to WR Pollack for a 3rd and 9 conversion beating Jerome Carter badly.
--Bryant McFadden was lucky that WR Bowman dropped a 3rd down pass to kill an early UNC drive as he was beat on the play.
--14 yard catch allowed by WR Pollack beating Kendyll Pope badly.
--8 yard catch allowed by WR Mitchell for a 4th and 6 conversion, beating Bryant McFadden. B.J. Ward was out of position with help on the play. McFadden gave a little too much cushion on a play where we had to prevent a 6 yard gain and just wasn't able to get up high enough to break up the catch.
--Michael Boulware was lucky that WR Curry dropped a 3rd down pass to kill another UNC drive as he was beat on the play.
--10 yard catch allowed by WR Curry beating Bryant McFadden. Ordinarily I'd say McFadden was giving too much cushion, but he played it OK considering there was under one minute to go in the half here.
--14 yard catch allowed by TE Blizzard for a 3rd and 3 conversion, beating Claudius Osei.
--11 yard catch allowed over the middle by WR Pollack, beating Michael Boulware who left Pollack all alone as he was taking a TE. Actually, it looked like Allen Augustin left the area without a defender as he was dropping into deep coverage despite nobody being in that area for him to cover, leaving a wide open gap in the short middle of the field. I have no idea what Augustin was doing on this play. Then Boulware missed the tackle as he came up to try to make the play. UNC definitely confused us with this play.
--10 yard catch allowed to WR Pollack on a 3rd and 8 play, beating Kendyll Pope and Michael Boulware in zone coverage. But again on this play, Allen Augustin left the area to drop into deep coverage where it looked like no potential receivers were present. Ordinarily, I'd say this was busted coverage, but both times Augustin looked like he had a purpose in going where he went, so I'm guessing this was our scheme and UNC just took advantage of it.
--13 yard catch allowed to TE Dunn beating A.J. Nicholson who rushed the QB instead of staying with his coverage, leaving the TE all alone.
--4 yard catch allowed by WR Mason on a 3rd and 2 play, beating Claudius Osei.
--14 yard catch allowed by WR Rumley on a 3rd and 11 play, beating Ernie Sims and Buster Davis, but then Sims recovered to force a fumble that took the ball back to being a 9 yard gain, short of first down yardage.
--44 yard catch allowed by WR Rumley, beating Antonio Cromartie and B.J. Ward for a big gain.
5. Leon Washington's injury was quite a bummer, but fortunately we're as deep at TB as we've ever been so the loss won't be as costly as it could be with injuries at other positions. Hopefully Leon will get better quickly and he'll see action again very soon.
6. Our run defense did an excellent job of stopping the UNC ground attack, holding them to 72 yards rushing on 27 carries (2.67 YPC average). We only had a handful of plays in this area that I'd point to as problems.
--9 yard run allowed by RB McGill. Kendyll Pope looked bad missing a tackle here.
--19 yard run allowed by RB McGill. B.J. Ward and Leroy Smith overpursued to the outside and were beat by a cutback. Ray Piquion was blocked. Sam McGrew was decleated. We needed a linebacker in position here to stop the cutback but UNC blocked our backups well.
--11 yard run allowed by QB Durant on a scramble. Kevin Emanuel was knocked down, Michael Boulware and B.J. Ward were slow reacting to the run as they were chasing the TE in double coverage.
--9 yard run allowed by RB McGill. I couldn't tell what happened here as ABC was late showing the play.
7. Our trick play of the night blew up in our face as P.K. Sam finished with a -4 yard run on a reverse designed for him to pass the ball to Rix. He made the right decision just eating the ball as there were too many defenders around in close proximity for him to risk throwing it.
8. Our ground game had a lot less unsuccessful carries on the night than I was expecting, and half of them came after the starters were taken out. For the game we had 12 unsuccessful carries for -6 yards. Here's the list of failed rushing plays:
--MISTER Jones with a 1 yard run: P.K. Sam with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo was beat to kill the play, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 1 yard run: Paul Irons with a block, James Coleman missed his block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and got a block, David Castillo was beat to kill the play, Matt Meinrod didn't block anybody, Alex Barron with a block.
--MISTER Jones with a -4 yard run: B.J. Dean missed the block he needed to get but hit the guy Irons was blocking instead, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and didn't get a block, David Castillo was beat, Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron with a double-team block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 1 yard run: B.J. Dean knocked his guy down, Ray Willis with a chip block on Meeks' guy, Bobby Meeks was beat to the outside to kill the play, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod pulled and got a block, but he didn't hit the guy he should have hit (looked confused a bit and let one guy go in favor of hitting another), Alex Barron with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 2 yard run on a misdirection pitch: B.J. Dean didn't get his block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis didn't get his block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod knocked his guy down, Alex Barron was beat. UNC got wise to this play here and was looking for it.
--Willie Reid with a 3 yard run on a reverse: James Coleman with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo and Alex Barron with a double-team block, Meinrod pulled and fell down trying to get his block. This caused Reid to have to swing wide and take longer to get around the corner. Meinrod needed to get this block for this play to succeed.
--Lorenzo Booker with a run for no gain: James Coleman with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady was beat to kill the play, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Chris Davis with a -6 yard run on a reverse: James Coleman didn't block anybody, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe pulled and was beat to kill the play, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Willie Reid with a -5 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ron Lunford was beat to the inside, Eric Broe was beat badly by a LB to kill the play, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a drive block.
--Willie Reid with a -1 yard run: James Coleman missed his block, Matt Henshaw with a pancake, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady with a decleater, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Willie Reid with a 2 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block but fell down, John Frady with a pancake, Cory Niblock was beat to the inside to kill the play, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Willie Reid with a run for no gain: James Coleman whiffed on a decleater attempt but then got up and got a block, Donnie Carter didn't block anybody, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe pulled and got a block, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a block. James Coleman's miss on the decleater caused a lot of traffic and Reid had nowhere to run.
9. Chris Rix needed better field awareness on his 5 yard scramble where he slid 1/2 yard too soon forcing a punting situation. This and the delay of game penalty after the timeout were probably his only glaring mental errors on the night.
10. Xavier Beitia missed on a 41 yard field goal and had an extra point blocked, snapping a streak of 80 consecutive PAT's.
11. Dominic Robinson had a fumbled punt after Antonio Cromartie was blocked into him.
12. I didn't like the play call of a flare pass to Willie Reid on a 3rd and 12 play. Then on the next drive we did it again and failed to convert on a 3rd and 15 play. While I was extremely happy with our play calling for the bulk of the game, I think there were three questionable calls by our staff on third down plays when Fabian Walker was at QB (the other being calling the pass play on a 3rd and 1 situation), hampering his potential effectiveness.
13. Wyatt Sexton and James Coleman blew a golden scoring opportunity with a fumbled exchange at the 1 yard line late in the game. It looked like Sexton was late with his turn to complete the handoff.
1. Chris Rix took a solid first step towards winning back his teammates and the fans with a performance more reminiscent of his last game of 2002 against Florida than any of his less impressive outings. 17 of 26 for 232 yards and 1 TD are promising, but not spectacular numbers. The most important number on the night for Rix on the night, however, was zero. Zero interceptions on ill- advised passes...zero fumbles trying to struggle for additional yardage. That is the key for him this season. He doesn't have to throw for 400 yards a game for us to be successful. If he can just play no worse than the level he played in this game, the amount of talent we have on display at the other skill positions is more than enough to bring the Seminole program back to glory, provided the blocking is there. While his numbers on the night were not overwhelming, Rix did do a good job of being an on the field leader. For that, I'll give him a game ball, along with Jones, Booker and Thorpe on the offensive side of the ball. We very much looked like an offense that knew what it was doing with him taking the snaps (with just one lapse in that area on our opening drive). Rix also added 7 rushes for 13 yards and 2 TDs to his aerial performance. The highlights for Rix in the passing game included:
--11 yard flare pass to Leon Washington, who showed a nice spin move at the end of the play to get 2-3 extra yards.
--15 yard short out pass to Craphonso Thorpe on a designed rollout. Thorpe showed some nice moves to get additional yardage after the catch here as well.
--9 yard short out pass to Craphonso Thorpe on another designed rollout. Jeff Bowden/Daryl Dickey did a good job here with the early play calling to get Rix some higher percentage passes to get off to a good start.
--7 yard quick out pass to Craphonso Thorpe.
--Chris Rix with a nice 11 yard run on a scramble, doing a good job of recognizing and decisively taking off to the open space to get a first down. I put this in the passing game because it was a successful play off of a designed pass play, so it's more suited to go here than among the analysis of our run blocking and designed running plays.
--18 yard strike to Paul Irons over the middle. I loved the play call and feel that we need to see more than the single token pass to the tight end per game to establish that as a credible threat that opposing D's will have to consider in their scheme. I think the more of a threat our TE becomes, the more open the field will be for our other skill players when they get their touches.
--42 yard completion on a bomb to Willie Reid. This one was actually a terrible pass by Chris Rix, fluttering in the air like a dying duck, but Reid did an excellent job adjusting to the ball to make a big play to set up our second touchdown of the night.
--13 yard catch and run by MISTER Jones on a screen pass. This was a good play call that made up the lost yardage after the botched trick play and got us in a short yardage third down situation.
--9 yard catch and run by Lorenzo Booker on a flare pass. He showed some nice moves in getting more yardage. It was good to see the flare pass to the backs make such a strong return to the FSU offensive arsenal as well. With the quality of backs we have, we need to get the ball in their hands in as many different ways as possible and let them do damage.
--14 yard catch and run by Chris Davis on a quick out pattern.
--7 yard catch and run by Craphonso Thorpe on a quick out pattern.
--8 yard catch and run by Lorenzo Booker on a flare pass.
--20 yard catch and run by Lorenzo Booker on a flare pass. There was an excellent block by one of our WR's to spring this play, but I couldn't pick up the number of the player.
--31 yard catch and run by Craphonso Thorpe on a sweet strike on a deep slant pattern. This was Rix's best pass of the night IMO. Thorpe did a good job breaking the initial tackle and making some moves to get to the outside. UNC added a personal foul at the end of this play, so this was a huge play. Game ball to Craphonso Thorpe for his team leading 7 catch, 83 yard performance.
--7 yard TD catch by Chris Davis on a busted play. Chris Rix nearly fumbled the snap, but then gathered the ball and ran 15 yards backwards to buy enough time to set himself to hit Davis coming back to the QB in the end zone. Nice job by the freshman Davis here in beating senior Michael Waddell for the score. Good job by Rix salvaging something great out of potential disaster.
--7 yard catch and run by Lorenzo Booker on a 3rd and 7 play to continue the drive. He left the LB on the ground with a great cut to get the first down.
--9 yard catch and run by Craphonso Thorpe on a quick out pass from Fabian Walker. This was a good play, but I didn't like how Thorpe stepped out of bounds rather than lunging for the marker to get the first down. We didn't pick up the one yard needed on 3rd down here.
--5 yard catch by James Coleman from Fabian Walker. I'd like to see us try to get the fullbacks more involved in the passing game to give opposing D coordinators one more thing to think about in their coverage. But this will only work if Dean and Coleman show themselves as capable of catching the ball as Coleman did here.
--17 yard catch by Chris Davis on a nice out pattern from Fabian Walker.
--Excellent 45 yard catch by Lorne Sam on a bomb from Wyatt Sexton. This was a beautiful pass by our freshman QB and a great grab by the younger Sam.
2. The running game was quite solid, racking up 236 yards on 42 carries. MISTER Jones certainly showed no ill effects from his knee injury and looked to be literally an unstoppable force on the football field. Leon Washington started the game like he was ready to move into a serious starring role in our offense, prior to his unfortunate injury. The long-awaited debut of prep sensation Lorenzo Booker did not disappoint as he looked to be every bit the back he has been billed to be and then some, showing explosive speed to and around the corner as well as a Peter Warrick-like ability to zig and zag without losing any speed. B.J. Dean looked much more consistent in the blocking department. Our offensive line showed that they do not want to be the offensive weakness that many (including me) feared they might be this year due to their inexperience. Our run blocking was solid in this game with far less missed assignments than I expected to see. We didn't have very many spectacular blocks, but our guys did a good job most of the night of making sure that everyone got a hat on somebody. That's exactly what we need to do in this area. Worry about being dependable first, then strive for sensational. The biggest goal for our line in the run blocking department this year simply needs to be that they provide enough blocking so our backs don't have to dodge tacklers until *after* reaching the line of scrimmage. If they can just accomplish that goal consistently, I think we'll be in for a sensational year running the ball because we have a *serious* stable of backs to carry the ball that can make some very special things happen running around or, in the case of MISTER Jones, through, would-be tacklers.
Again, my standards for judging success/failure on a running play are as follows: 4 yards on any carry by the tailback, or first down conversions on short yardage situations. 3 yards on any carry by the fullback, or first down conversions on short yardage situations. On goalline situations, I'll usually lower the 4/3 standard down depending on the circumstances. In this one, I counted two runs from the 3 to the 1 as successful because I think that's a fair assessment. Using this as my standards, for the game we had 24 successful carries for 243 yards. We also had 12 unsuccessful carries for -6 yards. So that totals up to 36 carries for 237 yards on our planned running plays. That amounts to a solid 67% success ratio and an excellent 6.58 yards per carry.
If you break it down to just look at how our starting line did, we had 20 successful carries for 192 yards and 6 unsuccessful carries for 4 yards. That totals up to 26 carries for 196 yards, an excellent 76.9% success ratio and a whopping 7.54 yards per carry. That's the sort of running we should always expect to see against the weaker defenses we face, so this was a solid opening effort for our offensive line.
Here is the list of our successful rushing plays on the night:
--MISTER Jones with a 5 yard run for a 1st down: B.J. Dean with a block, Chauncey Stovall with a block, Alex Barron with a block, Matt Meinrod needed to sustain his block longer, David Castillo with a weak block followed by a decleater, Bobby Meeks with a decleater, Ray Willis with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 27 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Chris Davis missed his block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block but he did miss picking up on a stunt by the UNC DL, Alex Barron with a block on the guy Meinrod initially hit. Leon had an awesome cut on this run to humiliate a DB trying to make the tackle and showed excellent speed on this run. Due to his injury, Leon is now averaging a very solid 27 yards per carry this season. ;-)
--MISTER Jones with an 8 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Paul Irons with a pancake, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod pulled and got a block, Alex Barron with a block, Chris Davis with a block.
--MISTER Jones with a 5 yard TD run: B.J. Dean with a decleater, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and whiffed on his block, David Castillo needed a better block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron needed to sustain his block longer, Paul Irons with a block. This was a nice cut to the hole by MISTER Jones.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 13 yard run on a toss sweep in his debut carry as a Nole: B.J. Dean didn't hit anyone but didn't really need to as Booker was already by, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and needed a better downfield block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block. Irons and Willis really sustained their blocks well on this play. Booker, on his first carry, showed EXPLOSIVE speed to and around the corner in turning what would be a routine 4-5 yard carry for most backs into a 13 yard gain. He might be the fastest to the outside that we've ever seen wearing the Garnet and Gold, but I'll wait to see more of him against stiffer competition before making that a final judgment.
--Chris Rix with a 1 yard TD run on a sneak: Matt Henshaw with a block, Alex Barron with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, David Castillo with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Donnie Carter with a block. We had a good surge here letting Rix just basically walk across the goal line even though UNC had twelve men on the field.
--MISTER Jones with a 21 yard run on a 3rd and 1 play: B.J. Dean with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron had nobody to block, Paul Irons with a block, Chris Davis with a block, then it came.....THE HIT!!! Finding no running room up the middle, MISTER Jones bounced the play to the outside. He rumbled around the corner as all-ACC safety Dexter Reid was lining him up for the tackle (chuckle, chuckle). As the imminent collision came closer, there was a brief moment of the two players looking at each other like two gunfighters preparing for the duel. That was the moment before Reid found out the hard way that man can indeed fly. The only thing missing from the moment of impact was a Batman like "Ka-Pow!" sign on the screen to block the view of the carnage as our superhero MISTER Jones unleashed powers that I've never seen before on a football field in not-so- politely casting Reid aside and nearly snapping poor Chris Davis in two, using him as a runway for Reid's landing.
This hit by MISTER Jones will be difficult to top for play of the year for us. I have never seen a hit delivered quite like that by a back carrying the ball in all my years watching football. It was more like something Goldberg would do planting a foe in the WWE than anything resembling football. He just threw the guy in the air with the force of the impact and Reid would have landed 5+ yards away if not for the two players behind him stopping his trajectory. It was truly awe inspiring. I find myself watching the replays of that hit over and over and over again as many Seminole fans and even other college football fans have been the last few days. Future opponents should be very terrified of MISTER Jones. This play alone has me grinning as much as every other aspect of the game combined. I've seen guys that are tough to tackle before, but that's the first time I've ever seen something so close to an act of violence perpetrated upon a would-be tackler. Game ball to MISTER JONES for hopefully setting the tone for the 2003 season with this signature play.
--B.J. Dean with a 6 yard run on 2nd and 1: Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks was knocked down, David Castillo actually pancaked Bobby Meeks (ugh), Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a pancake.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 21 yard TD run on a very well executed shotgun option pitch: Matt Henshaw with a vicious decleater from the slot WR position, B.J. Dean missed his block, Ray Willis knocked his guy down, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, David Castillo and Matt Meinrod with a double-team block to knock a guy down, Alex Barron needed to sustain his block longer. Booker made a phenomenal cut and showed some serious speed in getting to the end zone on this carry for his first TD as a Nole. Booker finished the night with 11 carries for 87 yards on the ground and also pitched in 4 catches for 45 yards in the air, showing himself to be a very versatile talent very early in his career. Game ball to Lorenzo Booker for a very solid debut.
--B.J. Dean with a 5 yard run: Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block but was knocked down, David Castillo was knocked down, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block. Dean fumbled on this play, but the refs ruled him down. This was a big break for FSU.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 15 yard run: B.J. Dean with a light but effective block, Craphonso Thorpe with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis and David Castillo with a double-team block, Bobby Meeks pulled and destroyed his guy with a pancake, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron and Paul Irons with a double team block. Booker showed more great speed through the hole on this run.
--Lorenzo Booker with an 8 yard run on a misdirection pitch play: James Coleman knocked down the guy Castillo was blocking, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks didn't get his block (at least I don't think he did--couldn't see as he went off the screen), David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block, P.K. Sam with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 3 yard run on a 3rd and 1 QB sneak: Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Bobby Meeks missed on a decleater attempt, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod didn't get his block, Alex Barron with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--MISTER Jones with a 2 yard run from the 3 yard line: B.J. Dean with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks was knocked down, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a pancake, Alex Barron with a pancake, Matt Henshaw with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 1 yard TD run: Paul Irons with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block,.Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block, Matt Henshaw with a block.
--MISTER Jones with a 20 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Chauncey Stovall with a block, Ray Willis with block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a decleater, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block. Jones showed some nimble open field running and cutting on this play.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 6 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks pulled and knocked his guy down, David Castillo with a block but was knocked down, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block but needed to turn his guy to the outside and didn't do so.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 4 yard run on 3rd and 3: B.J. Dean with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo and Matt Meinrod with a double-team pancake, Alex Barron with a pancake, Paul Irons with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 4 yard run on a very ugly attempt at an option play: B.J. Dean didn't block anybody, Ray Willis didn't block anybody, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo needed a much better block as he gave a very weak effort at blocking a LB, Matt Meinrod with two blocks, Alex Barron with a block. Rix did not look good with the option here, but still managed to get positive yardage and made it a successful rushing play. If we can get to where we execute properly with this, it could be a good addition to the arsenal.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 17 yard run: James Coleman with a block, P.K. Sam with a block, Dominic Robinson with a decleater, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo fell down, Matt Meinrod pulled and got his block, Alex Barron with a pancake. Booker again showed good shiftiness with this run. Chris Rix did an excellent job audibling into this play after recognizing a corner blitz prior to the snap.
--Willie Reid with a 16 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Lorne Sam knocked his guy down, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Willie Reid with a 4 yard run: James Coleman with a decleater, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe pulled in a very odd manner but got a block, John Frady fell down, Cory Niblock with a pancake, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Willie Reid with a 29 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Chris Davis with a block, Chauncey Stovall knocked his guy down, Matt Henshaw with two blocks, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe pulled and missed his block, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a pancake, Mario Henderson with a block. Reid showed excellent shiftiness on this run. Willie Reid is going to be a very valuable player for our offense with his ability to juggle the running back and wide receiver jobs as needed for us. He finished with 9 carries for 48 yards on the ground, and 3 catches for 50 yards in the air. That's not too shabby for a guy that's not a starter at either position. He's a guy that's making things happen every time you see him on the field.
--James Coleman with a 2 yard run from the 3 yard line: Matt Henshaw with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady needed a better block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson didn't get his block.
3. Jesse Stein was the surprise starter at the punting position and did a good job averaging 46.7 yards on 3 punts. He showed that he has a strong leg but needs to work on hitting the corner.
4. Our defensive line had pretty solid game. It wasn't spectacular as we didn't see the sort of sack totals that some of our fall scrimmages led us to believe we might see, but they did get the job done in making sure UNC QB Durant didn't have a substantial amount of time to throw the ball and we were able to mostly stuff the UNC ground game. The highlights up front on the defense included:
--Darnell Dockett with a -1 yard TFL stuffing a QB draw by Durant.
--Eric Moore with a pressure to force a bad throw by Durant resulting in a pass breakup for Stanford Samuels.
--Big pressure by Kevin Emanuel, Darnell Dockett, and Allen Augustin caused an incomplete pass and a near interception for Leroy Smith.
--Kevin Emanuel with an excellent job stuffing a running play from behind for no gain.
--Huge pressure by Chauncey Davis forced QB Durant to flip a dangerous pass to a RB for no gain on a big third down play.
--Pressure by Eric Moore, Jeff Womble and Kevin Emanuel forced QB Durant to scramble for only 3 yards on a 3rd and 10 play to force a punt.
--Darnell Dockett with a tackle for no gain on a 2nd and 1 run by RB McGill.
--Travis Johnson with a forced fumble on a run by RB Scott.
--Huge pressure by Eric Moore caused an incompletion to finish a good three and out series for our defense.
--Travis Johnson and Broderick Bunkley with a -7 yard sack! It was our only sack of the game. We must do better in this area in coming weeks.
5. Our secondary looked much improved over last season, particularly the play of our safeties. If I had to pick one aspect of our D that was the difference between the shutout we saw here and last year's less than stellar efforts, I'd point to the improvement at the safety position as the primary reason. Even on the few plays where they were beat, the damage was kept to far less than similar situations last year. The highlights for Mickey's bunch included:
--Nice pass breakup by Stanford Samuels. He was beat initially, but closed well due to an underthrown pass. He made a good play on the ball and this breakup forced UNC into a punting situation.
--Pass breakup and near interception by Leroy Smith to complete a solid 3 and out series for our defense.
--Nice stop by Jerome Carter holding a flipped pass to a RB to no gain forcing a 4th down situation.
--Excellent pass breakup by B.J. Ward to save a touchdown and preserve the shutout. Rufus Brown and Pat Watkins knocked each other off the play. Luckily Ward was also there to come in just in time to make the play. Great job there by Ward!
--Excellent hit for a pass breakup by Stanford Samuels on a pass over the middle to WR Pollack.
--Nice pass breakup by Pat Watkins, Rufus Brown and Kyler Hall on a hail mary pass to the end zone.
--Jerome Carter, Allen Augustin and Leroy Smith with a tackle for no gain on a 3rd and 1 run by RB McGill.
--Leroy Smith, B.J. Ward and Kendyll Pope with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB McGill.
--Bryant McFadden and Pat Watkins with a pass breakup in the end zone. The deflection was then intercepted by Stanford Samuels to again preserve our shutout and stop another UNC threat. McFadden may have gotten away with a bump here. Good job by Samuels being at the right place at the right time.
--Bryant McFadden with a good open field tackle to hold a swing pass to RB Lewis to a 1 yard gain.
--Rufus Brown with a nice pass breakup on a deep sideline pattern.
--Pat Watkins with a near interception on an overthrown pass.
--Antonio Cromartie with a -1 yard TFL on a quick out pass to WR Russell.
--Gerard Ross with a nice hit to ensure an incompletion on a pass that was tipped by Ernie Sims.
--Pat Watkins with a nice interception on an overthrown pass.
--Pat Watkins with a big hit to stop a 4th and 9 play three yards short.
6. Xavier Beitia's kickoffs were EXCELLENT. Every one of them ended deep in the end zone and forced UNC to take a knee. He also hit on a 26 yard field goal.
7. Our linebackers made several solid plays. Overall, they didn't have quite the night I was hoping/expecting to see, but again with a zero on the scoreboard for UNC, it's tough to find to much fault. I think they were a half- count slow getting started on their blitzes and seemed to be kind of hesitant in trying to get to the QB, rendering our blitz attempts not as effective as they could have been. Ernie Sims had a very productive debut with his time in the second half. The highlights for the linebackers included:
--Great job by Allen Augustin initially and Jerome Carter afterwards in holding a reverse by WR Pollack to only a 1 yard gain.
--Nice tackle by Sam McGrew to hold RB McGill to a 1 yard gain on a run.
--Allen Augustin with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Scott.
--Kendyll Pope with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB McGill.
--Kendyll Pope, Allen Augustin and Kevin Emanuel with a tackle for no gain on a screen pass.
--Ray Piquion recovered a fumble by RB Scott forced by Travis Johnson. Prior to the forced fumble, B.J. Ward, Buster Davis, Sam McGrew and Travis Johnson combined for a tackle for no gain on the run.
--Ernie Sims and Kamerion Wimbley with a -7 yard TFL on a high pitch that was fumbled on a run by RB McGill.
--Ernie Sims with a forced fumble on a play where UNC had picked up the first down on a 3rd and 11 play, but after the fumble was recovered, they ended up 2 yards short of the first down. This created a 4th down situation and UNC didn't convert.
--Marcello Church and Broderick Bunkley with a tackle for no gain and a 4th and 2 stop after Buster Davis was beat for a catch by WR Mason. Mason foolishly gave up the 1st down yardage backtracking to try to get more, and Church and Bunkley were there for the big stop.
--Ernie Sims with a nice pass deflection.
--Ernie Sims with a nice hit to break up a flare pass to WR McGill.
8. Chris Davis with an excellent 32 yard punt return, showing some great speed and moves along the way.
9. FSU was only flagged 4 times for 35 yards and only one of these penalties occurred with the starting units on the field. This is most definitely a positive that I hope continues through the season.
--Delay of game penalty.
--Holding penalty on Mario Henderson (declined).
--Block in the back penalty on Lorne Sam negated a 3 yard run by Willie Reid.
--Delay of game penalty.
--Roughing the passer penalty on Charles Howard.
10. With the exception of the handful of plays mentioned above when Fabian Walker was at QB, I was very pleased with the play calling of Jeff Bowden/Daryl Dickey in this game. We were very unpredictable and had UNC guessing most of the night.
11. The Seminoles managed to maintain the shutout despite several threats from the UNC offense. They continually made the plays they needed to make to shut down drives. While you couldn't ask for a better way to start the 2003 campaign than a shutout, UNC did keep the ball and had some good marches throughout this game, and missed on two field goals that their kicker would usually convert, so I think this is something of a deceiving shutout. I'm certainly glad we got it and we made the plays happen when we needed to in stopping drives, but this was not the dominating performance of our D's of old, at least not yet. What you have to watch for before we can say is D is fully back to that level is, when the QB takes his 5/7 step drops, are guys on our DL frequently reaching the point of that 5th or 7th step just as the QB does? We did that quite often when our D was in "complete terror" mode. This was more a very good performance where fate kind of turned it into a shutout for us IMO. We helped quite a bit with that fate (i.e.--Ward's hit, Samuels' INT), but some of it was just UNC not looking that good at the point in the drives where they needed a play. We should be very happy with the performance, but nowhere near content. It's good to have lots of room for improvement in a 37-0 win. I like the attitude the team seems to be keeping in referring to this game as a "good start" but nothing more.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
Offense: MISTER Jones. While 8 carries for 59 yards and 1 TD on the ground wasn't the greatest game or the biggest numbers on the day for us, can anyone honestly say that they'll remember much of anything else about this game 10 years from now other than THE HIT? Tip of the hat to Chris Rix (who probably deserved the award on numbers and overall), Lorenzo Booker and Craphonso Thorpe for their fine performances, but this was MISTER Jones' night by virtue of this play IMO.
Defense: It's very odd that in a game where we get a shutout that no one player really stood out. It was a collective team effort, so I'll go ahead and just name the entire defense as the player of the game and give them a game ball for a job very well done in blanking the Tar Heels.
Special Teams: Xavier Beitia as his deep kickoffs and one made field goal had a bigger impact on the game than any of our other special teams performers. A tip of the hat to Jesse Stein and to Chris Davis are warranted though.