Slowed To a Crawl

Florida State's offense was, well, stuck in the mud Saturday against Miami. Or was it a stick in the mud with questionable play-calling and poor execution following two weeks of preparation? The Seminoles struggled on the ground and through the air in a disheartening 22-14 defeat that knocked them from the national championship race and left plenty of questions.

Leading rusher Greg Jones, who had 189 yards against the Hurricanes last season in the Orange Bowl, had 15 yards on 13 carries.

Leon Washington, making his first appearance since the season-opener against North Carolina, had a team-high 26 yards on six carries. Lorenzo Booker also returned to the lineup following injury, but he had just one yard on two carries, including a crucial fumble.

"We had a lot of expectations going into the game. We practiced real hard but you can't win with these turnovers, a blocked punt. You can't win like that against a team like that caliber," Jones said.

"I really thought we would come out with a win. They played in the rain, too. It's just one of those things that can happen on a Saturday."

Despite its poor offensive production, FSU had plenty of chances to get back in the game as the Hurricanes lost three consecutive turnovers at one point in the second half. UM turned it over a third straight time when Kellen Winslow fumbled at the end of a 39-yard reception, giving FSU the ball at the 17.

The Seminoles then mounted an 18-play, 79-yard drive that ended on Chris Rix's incompletion on fourth down from the 4.

In that last sequence, with FSU having first-and-goal from the 5, Jones rushed three consecutive times between the tackles -- 1-yard gain, 2-yard gain and a 2-yard loss. Rix then fired low and wide to Sam near the end-zone corner.

"Yeah, that was a little surprising," offensive guard Matt Meinrod said of the Seminoles' play selection.

"I am not going to lie on that. I thought maybe we could have aired it out a few times. When a coach calls (consecutive) running plays they look to the offensive line to put it in the end zone and we couldn't get the job done."

Jones admitted there wasn't much room to maneuver compared to last season. However, he wouldn't blame the difficulties on his offensive line or the wet conditions.

"Our defense really stepped up and got a turnover for us," Jones said.

"I think that drive really hurt us. I thought we would score but we didn't. It wasn't impossible (to run). I would never say that. There wasn't much room. Sometimes there was room, sometimes it wasn't. I guess it was me. I wasn't seeing the line -- I guess I will take the blame for that."

If that's the case, there was plenty of blame to go around offensively.

The Seminoles averaged just 3.7 yards per play and finished with 296 total yards. Rix struggled with the conditions and UM pressure, completing 20 of 42 passes for 235 yards. He had a pair of touchdown passes, two interceptions and was sacked three times.

Will the Seminoles have to again tweak their offensive identity heading into a crucial road trip to Virginia?

"Just because you don't execute every down like we did today, it (passing game) has been working all year so I don't think we need to get away from yet," Meinrod said.

"But definitely we need to establish the run. That has to be first. Hopefully, as the season goes on we will get to more running. But we did have trouble (Saturday). They put seven in the box in the first half, sometimes eight or nine. When it's seven on seven, we should be able to get it done. It seemed like we were getting a lot of twists and stunts (on pass-pro). Bottom line is their D-line beat our O-line."

Sam led the Seminoles' passing attack with a game-high nine catches for 95 yards. Craphonso Thorpe, the team's leading receiver entering the game, had just one catch for 48 yards. Sam, for one, felt FSU could take advantage of some shorter routes at times during the game.

"Those routes are in the progression," Sam said.

"Rix, I guess, felt like he could get it deep. It kind of slipped out of his hands a few times and we had the interceptions. I thought they (underneath routes) were open but you know that's because I was running them. I can't really tell what was behind me. We have faith in Rix and that was his option. That's just how the game turned out."


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