(C) 2003 Kenny Moore. All Rights Reserved.
In a game where our tendency has historically often been to lose focus and allow a lot more offense points than most would expect, the FSU defense was able to stay sharp enough to hold Duke to only one touchdown, despite seeing the Blue Devils take over possession in excellent field position several times in the second half, including one series that started at the FSU 19 yard line. While the 56-7 score certainly looks plenty convincing enough, I have to say that this one seemed to be quite a battle for us in keeping our focus because we had numerous mental lapses and problems that put Duke in position to get a lot more than the seven points they ended up with. Two Duke drives late in the game ended with incomplete passes in our end zone on fourth down plays, passes that just as easily could have been completions. Two other Duke drives ended in blocked field goals. So the potential was definitely there for us to surrender at least 27 points in this game. In all our games so far this year except for the Maryland game, it seems like our opponents should have a lot more points on the board than they end up with. That's good that we're that stingy at surrendering points, but it still may be a deceptive statistic, at least as it relates to our first half performances, as tougher competition may be able to do a better job at turning those drives into points. Fortunately, our defense was able to come up big on all but one of the Duke drives in this game, but I have to say that this was the shakiest 56-7 victory I've seen in quite awhile.
Our offense marched up and down the field with workmanlike efficiency for much of the night. Our passing game was solid. Our running game didn't do the damage I was expecting, but Greg Jones did have an excellent 53 yard run on our opening drive. Overall, I'd say that it was another good team effort for the victory. Our defense held Duke to 90 yards of offense in the second half, continuing a trend for us of putting on totally dominating second half defensive performances. We still have only surrendered seven points in the second half all season. That's an incredible statistic through five games. There were definitely a lot of positives in this game, as you'd expect from a 56-7 blowout, but enough chinks in the armor that we shouldn't be fully satisfied with the effort. Given how we sometimes have looked against Duke, particularly in the second half of some of the games, I'll definitely consider this 56-7 outing a keeper though.
1. Our pass protection had numerous breakdowns leading to six sacks for the Duke defense and a lot of pressure for our QB's. This is of major concern and I'm hoping this was due to a lack of focus by the OL in facing Duke. Here's a list of plays where our pass protection didn't get it done:
--Matt Meinrod allowed a huge pressure forcing Chris Rix to scramble. He couldn't get over in time to pick up a blitzing LB. This was a very bad job by our OL here as Duke only rushed four. Fortunately, Rix was able to scramble for nine yards on this play.
--Chris Rix sacked for -7 yards as he fell down trying to elude a rush allowed by Matt Meinrod. Meinrod was fortunate that he didn't get called for holding on this play.
--Chris Rix sacked for -7 yards: Alex Barron was beat badly to the outside, Ray Willis and Eric Broe were beat by a stunting DT as neither of them picked him up.
--Chris Rix had to get rid of the ball under pressure. Alex Barron was beat, Matt Meinrod and David Castillo needed to sustain their blocks longer. This pressure really wasn't such a bad job by our OL as Rix had a lot of time to throw as he rolled, but I noted where the pressure did come from.
--Fabian Walker was sacked and fumbled on a blindside hit as Eric Broe was beat badly to the outside to cause the turnover.
--Wyatt Sexton sacked for -8 yards. This pressure was allowed by Marlon Napier missing a block and Donnie Carter being beat badly to the outside.
--Wyatt Sexton sacked for -8 yards on the next play. This pressure was allowed by Cory Niblock pulling and not getting to the DE in time. Our TE and FB went out in the pattern. I think this one was a bad blocking scheme as we were asking Niblock to cover too much ground too quickly.
2. Chris Rix made a couple of bad decisions in this game with regard to scrambling. Fabian Walker also had a bad play. Here are the plays where I think we could have done better with better decisions in the pocket:
--Chris Rix with a 3 yard run on a 3rd and 1 scramble. This was not a good decision as Greg Jones was wide open in the flat as a dump-off option. There was no pressure to force Rix to run here. I guess he just wanted to pick up the first down. He succeeded in that effort, so it can't be considered a terribly bad move, but I think this was an example of a play that he shouldn't make against a team like Miami. If he's pressured and sees daylight, then he should take off. But here there wasn't any pressure and I think a team with Miami's speed may have stopped him prior to obtaining the first down. I just hope he has a full understanding of this. He should given that he's faced Miami twice.
--Chris Rix sacked for -2 yards on a scramble and fumbled the ball. Rix ran right into the pressure and really had no need to run on this play. He had Willie Reid wide open in the flat and had plenty of time to get it to him instead of taking off. This was a relapse to past ways for Rix and a very poor decision.
--Fabian Walker with a 4 yard run on a scramble on a 3rd and 15 play. Willie Reid needed a better block here, but it was a bad decision by Fabian to run here. He should have rolled to his right to buy time as the pressure was not heavy enough that it should have forced him to scramble here.
3. Our kickoff return coverage was absolutely atrocious. We allowed returns of 36, 44, and 63 yards to WR Landrum and then inexplicably pooch kicked on a kickoff from our own 20 yard line, automatically surrendering excellent field position to Duke at our 42 yard line (which was basically the equivalent of handing Duke another 40+ yard return). We also had three penalties for 35 yards on kickoff coverage. Antonio Cromartie whiffed on a tackle attempt leading to the 63 yard return listed above. Miami will absolutely kill us in this area with Roscoe Parrish and Devin Hester if we do not improve dramatically over this effort, or if Xavier Beitia is unable to force touchbacks consistently with deep kickoffs.
4. We didn't have too much trouble with the passing game. Lorne Sam had a couple of drops, but I didn't see much else that was glaringly bad. Here are the lowlights in the air:
--Miscommunication between Chris Rix and two receivers for an incompletion. Craphonso Thorpe and Dominic Robinson were looking for a flare pass to Robinson with Thorpe blocking, Rix was looking to hit Thorpe.
--B.J. Dean dropped a pass. This was unfortunate because this was an excellent play call for the down and distance (2nd and 3). Dean was wide open but tried to run before bringing the ball in.
--Chris Rix missed Chauncey Stovall on a bomb. There was a lot of contact on this play, but no flag.
--Chris Rix threw behind P.K. Sam after eluding pressure. Sam did a good job of preventing a possible interception on this play.
--Chris Rix overthrew Craphonso Thorpe on a deep sideline pattern.
--Chris Rix missed Dominic Robinson on a crossing route.
--Lorne Sam dropped a pass to kill a drive on a 3rd and 10 play.
--Willie Reid with a -6 yard catch on a flare pass from Fabian Walker that was thrown behind him, forcing him to fall down as he was making the catch.
--Lorne Sam with a dropped pass over the middle.
--Paul Irons with a dropped pass over the middle. The Duke safety did a good job breaking up this pass.
--Wyatt Sexton overthrew a pass to Chris Davis on a 3rd and 26 play.
5. Our running game has definitely been put on the back burner. Entering this game, I thought we would seek to exploit Duke's #104 ranked rushing defense. We finished with a paltry 96 rushing yards on 31 carries, but that includes six sacks on passing plays. I hope we are playing possum here until the return of Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker because we're going to need a much better running game to fare well in the coming weeks. On the night, we had 9 unsuccessful carries for -1 yard on our designed running plays. We also had 11 successful carries for 107 yards. That totals 20 carries for 106 yards, a 5.3 YPC average and a 55% success ratio. I'd consider that a failure overall against a rushing defense as weak as Duke's was entering this game as we should have had no problem succeeding on at least 75% of our carries. The YPC average isn't too bad, but I would have preferred to see it closer to the 7 YPC range. Here are the lowlights for the night on the ground:
--Willie Reid with a -6 yard run on an ugly option pitch, and barely avoided a safety: James Coleman didn't block anybody, Ray Willis didn't block the DE to kill the play but he did block a LB, Eric Broe with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block and a decleater, Alex Barron needed a much better block, Dominic Robinson with a block. I have no idea how you can call an option without scheming to block the DE on the side you run to. We let him in untouched to force the pitch and then blow up the play. Rix made a bad decision pitching this one as Reid had absolutely nowhere to go. Rix should have just ate the ball closer to the line of scrimmage.
--Greg Jones with a run for no gain: B.J. Dean didn't block anybody, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis needed a better block, Eric Broe pulled and needed a better block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 1 yard run on a QB sneak, coming up short of the first down: Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis and Eric Broe with a double-team pancake, David Castillo with a pancake, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a pancake. It seems as if Rix has forgotten how to properly run a QB sneak as he's running too high lately and getting stuffed. He needs to do a better job of wedging himself into the line immediately instead of hesitating.
--Willie Reid with a 1 yard run on a pitch play: James Coleman with a block on Irons' guy, Paul Irons with a block but needed to turn the guy to the inside, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe pulled and missed his block, David Castillo needed a better block, Matt Meinrod with a light block before falling down, Alex Barron with a decleater. Reid ran out of room on this run to the short side of the field.
--Willie Reid with a 1 yard run: James Coleman with a block but his guy made the play and Reid tripped on Coleman's leg while trying to spin away, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis knocked his guy down, Eric Broe with a pancake, David Castillo with a pancake, Matt Meinrod doubled with Castillo (I think), Alex Barron with a pancake (I think), Paul Irons with a block.
--Greg Jones with a -2 yard run: Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford pulled and didn't get his block to kill the play, John Frady with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Willie Reid with a run for no gain: James Coleman with a block, Ray Willis didn't block anybody, Ron Lunford was very slow pulling and missed his block to kill the play (understandable since this was his first action for us at guard helping to provide depth in Bobby Meeks' absence), John Frady with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Marlon Napier with a 3 yard run on a misdirection pitch: Chad Canfield didn't block anybody, Joey Kaleikini knocked a guy down, Paul Irons with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady and Cory Niblock with a double-team block, knocking a guy down, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Marlon Napier with a 1 yard run: Donnie Carter missed his block, Ron Lunford with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady with a decleater, Cory Niblock with a block but was beat initially to disrupt the play, Mario Henderson with a block.
6. Our pass coverage surrendered only 169 yards through the air. Ordinarily this would be an excellent effort, but in facing Duke with a freshman QB, this was actually something of a disappointment. In the first half, Duke's QB Schneider looked like anything but a freshman in leading the Blue Devils on their lone scoring drive. Particularly troublesome was our first half inability to stop Duke on 3rd and long situations leading to their 18:39 - 11:21 time of possession advantage in the first half. This, along with our breakdowns on kickoff coverage, is what led me to feeling that this was something of a sloppy blowout for us. This is definitely a pattern for us now to allow our opponents to have several clock-chewing, sustained drives that mostly end in no points in the first half of games. We're doing a great job of preventing points in these situations, but allowing opponents to keep our offense off the field for such long stretches is going to come back to haunt us sooner or later. Here are the lowlights for our pass defense:
--7 yard catch allowed by WR Johnson for a 3rd and 6 conversion beating A.J. Nicholson and Jerome Carter in zone coverage. Johnson just sat in the spot where Allen Augustin blitzed from and Nicholson and Carter didn't get there in time.
--17 yard catch allowed by WR Johnson for a 3rd and 8 conversion beating Stanford Samuels in a zone.
--25 yard catch allowed by TE Powell for a 3rd and 9 conversion. We had no coverage on this play. Michael Boulware looked like he blew the coverage here. B.J. Ward also failed to pick up the TE. This was a poor job. I hope we plan on paying more attention to Kellen Winslow on October 11th.
--36 yard catch and run allowed by RB Douglas. Michael Boulware looked to be the culprit again on this play with the blown coverage, then he and Claudius Osei compounded the problem by missing a tackle to allow 10 additional yards. Pat Watkins also fell down briefly on the play to contribute to the blown coverage. This was a very poor play for our D.
--9 yard run allowed on a scramble by QB Schneider for a 4th and 4 conversion: Allen Augustin couldn't break off his coverage in time while our other LB's blitzed and didn't get in. I figured I'd put this in the pass coverage problems since it was a designed passing play.
--11 yard catch allowed by RB Douglas for a 3rd and 9 conversion beating Ray Piquion who lost coverage.
--7 yard catch allowed by WR Sharpe for a 3rd and 4 conversion beating Ray Piquion and Jerome Carter.
--11 yard catch allowed by WR Johnson for a 2nd and 11 conversion beating Rufus Brown.
--22 yard catch allowed by WR Love beating Bryant McFadden, but this was negated by a questionable offensive interference penalty. McFadden was bailed out on the field, but I think he was beat on this play, so I'm including it here.
--Michael Boulware was beat in the end zone by the Duke TE on a 4th and 7 play, but fortunately he couldn't catch the ball as we were lucky that it was overthrown. We stopped this drive, which was good, but Duke definitely had the chance to score here, so I count the coverage as a negative.
--12 yard catch allowed by WR Pastore beating Antonio Cromartie.
--17 yard catch and run allowed by a TE beating Ernie Sims.
--A.J. Nicholson was beat in the end zone by the Duke TE on a 4th and goal play. Again we were lucky to not give up a score.
7. Our run defense did a much better job against Duke's ground attack than they did last year, but we did have a few bad plays in this area. Here's the list of bad plays by our run defense:
--13 yard run allowed on a draw play by RB Wade: Allen Augustin took a bad angle and missed a tackle, Michael Boulware was slow reacting to the run due to coverage responsibilities, A.J. Nicholson was slow reacting to the run, but I did note that he did guard against the cutback here.
--10 yard TD run allowed by RB Douglas. We surrendered this touchdown way too easily. Michael Boulware was blocked, Allen Augustin took a bad angle, Stanford Samuels was block, B.J. Ward was late with run support. This concluded an excellent 12 play, 82 yard drive by Duke.
--11 yard run allowed by RB Douglas: Ernie Sims was blocked, Sam McGrew was blocked, Kyler Hall was late with run support and took a bad angle, Ray Piquion couldn't get there in time.
--12 yard run allowed by RB Dargan: Buster Davis was blocked, Claudius Osei was late with run support.
8. FSU was flagged for 8 penalties for 90 yards.
--Offsides penalty on Kevin Emanuel and Kamerion Wimbley lined up in the neutral zone. I think that's who this was on, but I couldn't make out the numbers of the DE's on this play.
--Offsides penalty on FSU kickoff team (didn't see who).
--Personal foul penalty on Gerard Ross on the same kickoff for throwing something of a punch. Both penalties were assessed and we had to rekick from our 15 yard line.
--Personal foul penalty on Xavier Beitia on the kickoff return on our second attempt at this kickoff. This was a really bad sequence that allowed Duke to start their drive at the 19 yard line.
--Delay of game penalty on Fabian Walker's first play of the game.
--Pass interference penalty on Gerard Ross.
--Roughing the passer penalty on Ernie Sims. I didn't see him do anything wrong on this play.
--Excessive celebration penalty after the Antonio Cromartie interception return for a TD.
1. The passing game had a good night as three quarterbacks combined to go 22 of 34 for 328 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Chris Rix had a mostly solid 16-25, 274 yard, 2 TD, 0 INT performance in about 2-3/4 quarters of work in leading FSU to several quick strike scores and a 42-7 lead prior to yielding to Fabian Walker late in the 3rd quarter. Walker was able to put together a 5-7, 45 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT effort in under a quarter of work, leading FSU to one score in the fourth quarter. Our quarterbacks did a good job of spreading the wealth in hitting eleven different receivers for catches, with P.K. Sam leading the way with only four receptions. Duke entered this game with the nation's #13 pass defense, albeit against admittedly suspect passing competition, so our solid performance in this department came against the strongest aspect of Duke's game, for whatever that is worth. The highlights for our aerial assault included:
--P.K. Sam with a 10 yard catch and run with a nifty move for eight yards after the catch.
--Donnie Carter with a 50 yard catch and run over the middle. Excellent pass by Rix hitting a wide open Carter, who looked pretty quick running with the ball for a big guy. I loved seeing this play added to the playbook and hope we'll see more of it.
--Chauncey Stovall with a 12 yard catch on an out pattern.
--Paul Irons with a 19 yard catch and run over the middle. Wow, tight ends actually involved in the offense, how odd.
--P.K. Sam with an 18 yard catch on an out pattern.
--Dominic Robinson with an excellent 18 yard catch and run for a 3rd and 17 conversion. Great job by Robinson with the yards after catch, sliding between three defenders for the needed yardage to set up the 43 yard TD on the following play.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a sensational 43 yard TD catch on a deep sideline pattern, outleaping the defender, who had *excellent* coverage, to make the play. This was a perfect pass by Rix.
--Lorne Sam with a 6 yard catch for a 3rd and 3 conversion.
--Chris Davis with an 18 yard catch where he took a big hit and still held on to the ball. Davis definitely has a soft pair of hands that seem to act as pigskin magnets, a welcomed sight in our receiving corps.
--Dominic Robinson with an excellent 35 yard catch in traffic. Rix placed this ball perfectly hitting Robinson between two defenders.
--Chris Davis with a 12 yard catch over the middle for a 3rd and 4 conversion.
--Donnie Carter with a 7 yard TD catch. Wow! A TD catch for an FSU tight end! I liked the misdirection to the play design here as Chris Rix rolled way right and then threw all the way across the field to a wide open Carter. This play probably wouldn't work against Miami though as they're DB's would probably have the closing speed necessary to prevent the completion.
--Joey Kaleikini with a 12 yard catch on a slant. This pass was a total strike from Fabian Walker. Great to see Kaleikini get his first reception of the season.
--Chauncey Stovall with a 16 yard TD catch on a slant pattern. This was another big-time strike from Fabian Walker.
--Paul Irons with a nice 17 yard catch and run on a screen pass. I like the idea of lining Irons up at FB to increase our chances to get some pass catches from this position. Actually, just the act of lining him up at FB and sending him into the pattern should be enough to get the desired attention from the defense as it's unusual for us to have #38 in the backfield. There is good potential here to use Irons as a decoy IMO as teams will tend to look his way when he lines up at FB, figuring we have to have something planned for him if we line him up there. Nice wrinkle.
--Robert Hallback with an excellent 9 yard catch on an out pattern for a 3rd and 6 conversion on a pass from Wyatt Sexton. Great job by Hallback on his first catch as a Seminole.
2. Chris Rix had a pretty solid performance in the decision making area on his scrambles and reactions to pressure, with the exception of the play where he fumbled. The good decisions/reactions are listed here:
--9 yard run on a scramble. This was a good decision as he had room to run.
--9 yard run on a scramble. There was no pressure to cause Rix to run here. I'll give him a good decision based on the results of the play if he understands that this play probably would have been a bad decision against Miami. He had room here that probably wouldn't have been there with Miami's closing speed.
--Great job in the face of a big blitz hitting Lorne Sam for a 3rd and 3 conversion.
--Good job eluding a rush and finding Chris Davis open for an 18 yard completion.
--Good decision to get rid of the ball under pressure caused by good coverage by Duke's pass defense.
--Great job getting rid of the ball under extreme pressure from an all out Duke blitz, finding Chris Davis to convert on third down.
3. Our running game did have some success with limited use. We had 11 successful carries for 106 yards on designed running plays. The bulk of that yardage did come on Greg Jones' first carry of the night as he bolted for 53 yards around the left corner and down the sideline. Here's the list of successful carries for our ground game:
--Greg Jones with a 53 yard run on a toss sweep: B.J. Dean with an excellent downfield decleater, P.K. Sam with an excellent downfield block, Craphonso Thorpe with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe pulled and got a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a pancake, Alex Barron didn't block anybody. Jones found and hit the big hole very decisively. This was a great run.
--B.J. Dean with a 5 yard TD run: Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis missed his block on a LB but got a chip block on Irons' guy, Eric Broe with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a decleater. This culminated an excellent 5 play, 80 yard drive in 1:37 to start the game.
--Greg Jones with a 1 yard run on 4th and 1: James Coleman with a block, B.J. Dean with a block, Donnie Carter missed a decleater, Ray Willis with a pancake, Eric Broe with a pancake, David Castillo missed his block to kill the play, Matt Meinrod missed a decleater, Alex Barron needed a better block, Paul Irons didn't get to his block in time.
--Greg Jones with a 2 yard TD run: B.J. Dean with a block, Donnie Carter missed a decleater, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe with a pancake, David Castillo with a pancake, Matt Meinrod with a late block, Alex Barron with a block but needed to sustain longer, Paul Irons with a pancake. Jones with a nice lunge across the goalline on this run.
--Willie Reid with an 8 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a light block, Alex Barron with a block. Duke had a face mask penalty added to the end of this run.
--Willie Reid with a 1 yard TD run on a pitch play: James Coleman with a decleater, Donnie Carter with a block, Craphonso Thorpe with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe pulled and got a block on the guy Coleman decleated, David Castillo with a pancake (I think), Matt Meinrod with a pancake (I think), Alex Barron with a pancake, Paul Irons with a light block.
--Greg Jones with a 7 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Craphonso Thorpe didn't get his block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe with a block, John Frady with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Greg Jones with a 6 yard run on 3rd and 3: B.J. Dean knocked a guy down, Craphonso Thorpe with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe pulled and got a block, John Frady needed a better block, Matt Meinrod needed a better block, Alex Barron didn't block anybody, Paul Irons with a block.
--Greg Jones with an 11 yard run: James Coleman with a pancake, Craphonso Thorpe with a block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Eric Broe with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Willie Reid with a 5 yard run: I couldn't see the blocking on this play due to bad camera work by Sunshine Network.
--Willie Reid with a 7 yard run on a 3rd and 5 misdirection pitch: B.J. Dean with a block, Joey Kaleikini with a block, Paul Irons missed his block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, John Frady with a block, Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron with a double-team pancake. Reid did a good job breaking a tackle to get the first down.
4. Our defensive line put together another dominant effort, led this week by Kevin Emanuel with two TFL's (including one sack) and two forced fumbles. The DL has definitely been an area where we have seen substantial improvement over last year. Game ball to Kevin Emanuel for being this week's entry in the "Can you top this?" performances our DE's seem to be putting on each week lately. The ridiculous number of high points up front for our DL included:
--Jeff Womble with an 8 yard sack! Kamerion Wimbley was also in on the hit.
--Kevin Emanuel with a pressure to force a short scramble on a 3rd and 15 play.
--Kamerion Wimbley and Jeff Womble with a tackle for 1 yard on a run by RB Wade.
--Kamerion Wimbley with an excellent stop running QB Schneider down from behind for only a 1 yard gain on a run. He looked like Reinard Wilson in the 1994 Notre Dame game on this play.
--Chauncy Davis with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Darnell Dockett and Jeff Womble with a -2 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Kevin Emanuel with a huge pressure to cause a 3rd and 6 incompletion. This one was nearly a sack as Schneider got rid of this one at the very last moment.
--Kevin Emanuel with a -2 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Chauncey Davis with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Dargan.
--Darnell Dockett with a vicious -9 yard sack!
--Kevin Emanuel with a -5 yard sack and forced fumble on a 3rd and 8 play!
--Jeff Womble with a -3 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Kevin Emanuel with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Douglas.
--Kevin Emanuel with a forced fumble on a QB scramble that A.J. Nicholson returned for a touchdown on Duke's first series of the second half.
--Kamerion Wimbley with a -6 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Pressure by Kamerion Wimbley and Travis Johnson forced an incompletion.
--Kevin Emanuel with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Dargan (I think).
--Charles Howard with a vicious -9 yard sack!
--Darnell Dockett with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Fryer.
--Broderick Bunkley and Travis Johnson with a pressure to force an incompletion.
5. A.J. Nicholson made his initial start filling in for Kendyll Pope who was being held out after an injury against Colorado. Nicholson made the most of his starting opportunity by having the most productive performance of the night among our linebacking corps with seven tackles, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Game ball to A.J. Nicholson for a great game in front of fans from his home state of North Carolina. Ernie Sims also made the most of his time on the field, mostly in the second half in mop-up duty, as he led the team with eight tackles and often looked like the Tazmanian Devil romping through the Duke offense on his way to his tackles. The high points for the linebackers included:
--A.J. Nicholson and Michael Boulware stopped a 3rd and 15 scramble by QB Schneider for only a 5 yard gain to force a punting situation.
--A.J. Nicholson with a tackle for no gain on a run by QB Schneider.
--Huge pressure by Sam McGrew caused an incompletion.
--Allen Augustin recovered a fumble, but A.J. Nicholson pried it away from him leading to another scramble for the ball where Nicholson fortunately came up with the recovery. Had Duke recovered, this would have been disastrous for our defense as they not only would have maintained possession, but I think they would have also gotten a first down on the 3rd and 8 play.
--A.J. Nicholson with a 24 yard fumble return for a touchdown. Nicholson did a good job here until he decided to showboat with the ball and fumbled. He was fortunate to get a kind bounce that popped the ball back up into his hands in stride on the way to the goal line. Next time, please hold the ball with both hands until you cross the goalline, A.J. You don't have to worry about getting called for a travelling violation.
--A.J. Nicholson with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas. Broderick Bunkley was also in on the play.
--Ernie Sims, Buster Davis and Clifton Dickson with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Douglas.
--Michael Boulware with a nice pass breakup and near interception to cause an incompletion.
--Huge pressure by Ernie Sims, Charles Howard and Kamerion Wimbley caused an incompletion on a 4th and 5 play. This culminated a great four and out series by our defense denying Duke any chance to score after they took over possession on our 36 yard line after the Fabian Walker fumble.
--Ernie Sims with a tackle to hold an option pitch play by RB Dargan (I think) to a 1 yard gain.
--Ernie Sims with a tackle to hold a scramble by QB Dapolito to a 1 yard gain. Kyler Hall was also in on this play.
--Ernie Sims with a huge pressure and hit to cause in incompletion. This is the one where he was flagged for roughing the passer.
--Sam McGrew with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Dargan.
6. While we did have our problems with kickoff return coverage, we did have some successes here as well. Gerard Ross had an excellent tackle at the 18 yard line with Ernie Sims also in on the hit and Xavier Beitia put about half of his kicks into the end zone. Antonio Cromartie had an excellent immediate tackle for no gain on a punt return as well.
7. Our run defense held Duke to 106 rushing yards on 45 carries and a 2.35 YPC average.
8. Antonio Cromartie had a big 62 yard kickoff return to answer Duke's touchdown.
9. B.J. Ward again assumed the role of a kick blocking machine as he was last year by knocking down two Duke kicks to tie the FSU record for most kick blocks in a game. Game ball to B.J. Ward for giving opposing kickers something else to consider in preparation for their kicks and for saving six points for our defense.
10. Our defense completely dominated again in the second half, holding Duke to just 90 yards of offense and no points. Holding them scoreless was particularly impressive considering the starting field position we were surrendering in the second half, with Duke starting drives well within our territory on at least three occasions.
11. Our secondary had a very quiet night as they were not tested very often with Duke choosing to pick on our linebackers for most of their pass completions. There were some incompletions to receivers that really weren't due to good plays by our secondary that I didn't note here. These plays failed mostly due to either Duke's receivers dropping passes or their QB just completely throwing off target. Here are the few high points for the DBs on the night:
--Stanford Samuels with an excellent pass breakup on an out pattern to WR Love for a 3rd and 16 stop.
--Pat Watkins with a pass breakup on a deep sideline pattern to TE Powell for a 3rd and 13 stop.
--Antonio Cromartie with an excellent 71 yard INT return for a TD! Cromartie showed devastating speed down the sideline as he outran the QB that easily had the angle on him. Great to see a big play like this from our secondary.
12. Chris Davis had a nice 27 yard punt return.
13. Jesse Stein and Chris Hall combined for 4 punts for a 43 yard average as our punting continues to be a pleasant surprise this season.
Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, it is time to focus exclusively on our October 11th date with the Miami Hurricanes that is now looming as potentially one of the biggest wars in the history of this storied series. Since we have the luxury of an open date in preparation for the Canes, I'll try to do a Deep Inside the Numbers feature next week as a preview of this game.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
Offense: Chris Rix
Defense: Kevin Emanuel and A.J. Nicholson
Special Teams: B.J. Ward