But by nightfall, after a systematic dismantling and destruction of the Notre Dame team by our Florida State Seminoles, Knute Rockne could be heard turning over in his grave, the Four Horsemen and the other assorted ghosts that so often seem to aid the Irish in big games (and that undoubtedly grabbed us in 1993) were nowhere to be found, and there may have even been a tear in Touchdown Jesus' eye. In the end, FSU had gained redemption for last year's difficult defeat at the hands of the Irish in Doak Campbell Stadium, that was the low point of our season last year in the eyes of many, and in the process put on a display of domination in nearly every phase of the game that has been rarely carried out by visiting opponents in Notre Dame Stadium. The final score read 37-0. We all understand that this has been a rough year so far for the Irish and can sympathize with them as they go through the struggles of watching a freshman quarterback go through his growing pains on the field, but seeing 37-0 on the scoreboard in that stadium is something very special regardless of the caliber of team Notre Dame is fielding this season.
This was the first time Notre Dame has been shutout at home since September 9th, 1978 (150 games ago) and was just three points away from equaling the worst ever home defeat in Notre Dame history. I'm not sure if the Oklahoma team that beat Notre Dame 40-0 left as many points on the field as we did, but the realization that FSU could have easily scored at least 9-18 points more than we did in this game (4 points on the drive where we settled for a field goal from inside the ND 5 yard line, and 6-14 more points on two other drives that ended in no points when our starting field position was inside the ND 40 yard line), might have made this victory even more impressive.
At the beginning of this game, it was the FSU offense that was doing the damage. Chris Rix could seemingly complete any deep ball he threw out there as we jumped out to a commanding 17-0 lead in the first quarter. But as the game progressed, it was more and more our defense that was the real star of this show. After the offense put away most of its toys, and we became more and more liberal with our substitutions on defense, Notre Dame was able to mount several strong scoring threats. But each time, our defense would rise to the occasion, often with our backs against the goalline, to snuff out the Irish attempts to score. As Leroy Smith made the interception to kill yet another Irish scoring attempt and raced 90 yards for a score of his own, it was a very fitting exclamation point for an extremely strong defensive performance. Bobby Bowden compared the collective effort of holding Notre Dame scoreless when they had so many chances at point-blank range to our 1993 goalline stand in the opening game against Kansas. While I might bemoan our D somewhat for bending so much to allow all those scoring chances, I can't argue that we did *extremely well* at shutting down so many plays so close to our end zone.
This is a victory we will be able to savor for a very long time to come. While I'm sure we all would have preferred to see Notre Dame able to field a more competitive team for this game and their struggles this season will prevent this one from being seen as anything of a classic win for us as far as the national college football stage goes, it's still beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame, 37-0. Enjoy it Nole fans, this was a great victory.
1. We were penalized six times for 50 yards. I actually counted seven. That's not too bad, but I set the criteria as five penalties or less before I'll put that in the positives section. Here's the list of infractions called against FSU:
--Illegal procedure penalty on Alex Barron.
--Ineligible man downfield penalty on David Castillo.
--Punt interference penalty on Pat Watkins, but actually it was the Notre Dame returner running into his own man. Watkins did block the guy back into the return man somewhat, so I'm OK with this call, but Watkins didn't hit him.
--Holding penalty on a punt return on Pat Watkins.
--Illegal procedure penalty on Alex Barron.
--Xavier Beitia with a penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds on a kickoff.
--Defensive holding penalty. I think this was on B.J. Ward, but I'm not certain.
2. Our running game struggled for most of the game as we were only able to get 98 yards on 37 carries on the ground. The fact that Lorenzo Booker led the team in rushing with only 35 yards on 12 carries is definitely an indication of the lack of success we had running the ball. Fortunately success on the ground wasn't vital to success on the scoreboard in this game. We inexplicably had a serious problem with fumbling on pitch plays and were fortunate to recover the ball on all three of these fumbles. On the day, we had 18 unsuccessful carries for 6 yards. We also had 13 successful carries for 93 yards. That totals 31 designed running plays for 99 yards, for a 3.19 YPC average and only a 41.9% success rate. That's just not going to be good enough to beat many top caliber teams, so while this was a great day overall, our lack of success on the ground continues to be a major concern. Here is the list of failed running plays:
--Greg Jones with a -7 yard run due to a fumbled pitch. This was a good pitch by Rix and I don't know why Jones couldn't handle it.
--Greg Jones with a 1 yard run on a 3rd and 11 play: B.J. Dean with a block, Paul Irons and Ray Willis with a double-team block, Ron Lunford needed to sustain his block longer as his guy made the tackle, David Castillo was beat to disrupt the play initially, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron needed to sustain his block longer as his guy was also in on the stop.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 1 yard run: James Coleman missed a decleater, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, David Castillo missed his block to kill the play, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 3 yard run: James Coleman with a block but his guy made the play, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis needed a better block, Bobby Meeks and David Castillo with a double-team block that ended with the guy getting knocked down , Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block
--Greg Jones with no gain on a run: B.J. Dean needed a better block, Craphonso Thorpe missed a decleater to help kill the play, Matt Henshaw was beat badly and thrown down to kill the play, Ray Willis missed a block on the guy that beat Henshaw, Ron Lunford with a pancake, I couldn't see if David Castillo or Alex Barron got blocks as they went off the screen on the play, Matt Meinrod with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a run for no gain: James Coleman with a pancake, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo and Matt Meinrod with a double-team pancake, Alex Barron with a block. Booker ran into Coleman on this play trying to get to the hole.
--Lorenzo Booker with a -1 yard run: James Coleman didn't get a block, P.K. Sam with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a late block, David Castillo with a decleater, Matt Meinrod didn't block anybody, Alex Barron missed a decleater. Booker should have taken this one around the corner as he had Coleman to block for him on the outside. This was a bad decision to try to cut back on this one.
--Chris Rix with a 1 yard run on a QB sneak from the 3 yard line: Matt Henshaw with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron missed a decleater. I don't understand the play call here going with a sneak from the 3 yard line.
--Greg Jones with a 1 yard run: James Coleman missed his block completely, Donnie Carter missed his block completely, Ray Willis needed to sustain his block longer, Ron Lunford pulled and missed his block to kill the play then fell down (just when I was praising his job on pulling too), David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod knocked his guy down, Alex Barron with a pancake, Paul Irons with a block.
--Leon Washington with a -2 yard run after bobbling a pitch: James Coleman and Donnie Carter with a double-team block that knocked their guy down, Ray Willis and Bobby Meeks with a double-team block and Meeks was able to get another block for a decleater, David Castillo with a decleater, Matt Meinrod didn't block anybody, Alex Barron and Paul Irons with a double-team decleater. This was another pitch that we inexplicably couldn't handle. Again the pitch looked to be fine from Chris Rix, so I have no idea what the problem was, but we were forced to settle for a field goal after three failed runs from the three yard line.
--Greg Jones with a 2 yard run: James Coleman with a decleater, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis missed his block badly, Ron Lunford and David Castillo with a double-team block then Lunford knocked another guy down, Matt Meinrod was beat to kill the play, Alex Barron with a block.
--Greg Jones with a 5 yard run on 3rd and 8: James Coleman with a decleater, Donnie Carter with a block then a decleater on another guy, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford and David Castillo with a double-team block that Castillo turned into a pancake, Matt Meinrod pulled and got a block (I think), Alex Barron was beat to the outside.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 1 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford was beat to the inside to kill the play, John Frady with a light block on a decleater attempt, Matt Meinrod was beat badly but Coleman picked up his guy, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a -5 yard run on a pitch play: James Coleman with a decleater, Lorne Sam with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis missed his block, Ron Lunford needed to sustain his block longer, John Frady missed a decleater, Matt Meinrod didn't get a block early but may have after going off the screen, Mario Henderson with a decleater.
--Lorenzo Booker with no gain on a misdirection pitch: James Coleman and Ron Lunford with a double-team block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, John Frady with a block, Matt Meinrod didn't block anybody, Mario Henderson with a block. Notre Dame was just all over this play with two guys looking for it.
--Lorne Sam with a 6 yard run on a 4th and 14 reverse: James Coleman with a decleater, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford and John Frady with a double-team block that Frady turned into a decleater, Matt Meinrod with a block, Mario Henderson with a block. Joey Kaleikini was called for holding on this play, but Notre Dame declined the penalty to get the ball back.
--Marlon Napier with a 1 yard run: Chad Canfield with a block, Matt Henshaw and Ray Willis with a double-team block, Ron Lunford with a block, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock with a block, Mario Henderson with a block, Joey Kaleikini with a block.
--Marlon Napier with a -1 yard run: Chad Canfield with a block, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, John Frady with a block, Cory Niblock pulled and knocked a guy down, Mario Henderson with a block.
3. Leon Washington lost 11 yards on a punt return by misjudging the ball and having to fall on it.
4. Our pass protection was mostly solid, but had the following breakdowns:
--Pressure allowed by James Coleman forced Chris Rix to roll out and throw incomplete. Actually, Rix didn't really need to leave the pocket here as he ran into more trouble by rolling IMO. Leon Washington also got away with a clip on this play.
--Chris Rix was sacked for -5 yards as he was pushed out of bounds after pressure was allowed by Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron. Just as he went out of bounds, he made a very foolish decision to throw the ball wildly in the direction of Paul Irons and P.K. Sam with three defenders around them. Daryl Dickey and Billy Sexton were all over Rix on the sideline after this play.
--Pressure allowed by Alex Barron forced Chris Rix to scramble. Fortunately he was able to pick up 8 yards on this run.
--Chris Rix was sacked for -1 yard: Rix ran right into the pressure here. This was a bad decision as he should have rolled out of the pocket to buy time. I don't put this one on the OL.
--Chris Rix was sacked for -9 yards after a fumble. Rix stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure when there really was no need to then ran into Booker to cause a fumble. Fortunately Rix was able to recover the fumble for a big loss, but this play had Coach Bowden seemingly exasperated on the sideline.
5. While Chris Rix was able to put up some spectacular numbers, he was not without some major mistakes in this game. This game had nearly every element of both the best and the worst of Rix's game, occasionally causing the NBC announcers to just laugh at the roller coaster ride FSU is having to get used to with Rix behind center. The lowlights in the passing game included:
--Chris Rix threw behind Chris Davis on a slant pass.
--Chris Rix was intercepted by DB Duff as he tried to force a pass to Craphonso Thorpe. Duff returned this INT 55 yards to the FSU 9 yard line. This was a terrible pass by Rix. He threw it sidearm and seemed to just fling it out there with too much confidence that our receivers would be able to go up and get anything thrown remotely close to them. This one was sloppy due to our previous success in the air. B.J. Dean just did get over in time to knock Duff off balance to stop this from being a Notre Dame TD.
--Chris Rix threw slightly high and outside on a square in pass to P.K. Sam. This pass was nearly intercepted on the deflection after Sam couldn't bring it in. Some might give Sam a drop here, but I think this one was more on Rix's throw.
--Chris Rix and Craphonso Thorpe couldn't connect on a deep sideline pattern as DB Duff had a good pass breakup for Notre Dame.
--A Notre Dame blitz forced us to throw underneath the marker on a 3rd and 10 play to kill a drive and force us to settle for a long field goal.
--P.K. Sam fell down to cause an incompletion on a 3rd and 10 play.
--Matt Henshaw dropped a pass over the middle. This one was a little bit high but I think it was catchable.
--Chris Rix overthrew Chris Davis on a post pattern.
--Chris Rix threw too far outside on a pass in the end zone to P.K. Sam to keep Sam from coming down with a foot inbounds for a score.
--A screen pass to Lorenzo Booker was destroyed by Notre Dame LB Watson for a -8 yard TFL as Ron Lunford didn't get the needed block on the play.
--Chris Rix underthrew Craphonso Thorpe on a mid-range corner route. Thorpe slipped trying to come back to the ball but almost caught it as he was laying on the ground. On one angle, it looked like it might have been a catch, but Thorpe didn't protest the incomplete call, so I'll guess it was the proper call.
--P.K. Sam couldn't hang on to a deep sideline pass as a vicious hit by the safety caused this to be an incompletion. This was a perfect pass by Rix, but thrown into double coverage.
--Chris Rix missed a flare pass to Lorenzo Booker as he threw too far in front of him.
--Chris Rix was intercepted on a sideline pass to Dominic Robinson after a rollout. It would seem that the Notre Dame secondary did their homework on where Rix usually throws the ball in those situations. This was a poor throw and read by Rix.
--Chris Rix was intercepted on a deep sideline pattern to Chris Davis. This was just a good play by the DB in getting good position to make the pick. Rix seemed to just fling this ball out there with a bit too much confidence again that the WR could catch anything he put out there.
6. Our run defense surrendered 146 yards on only 30 carries, but the majority of these yards came after the game was already decided against second team defenders. The lowlights for us in stopping Notre Dame's rushing attack included:
--9 yard run allowed on a scramble by QB Quinn: Michael Boulware was blocked and fell down. Everyone else was too deep in coverage to come up faster to make the stop.
--31 yard run allowed by RB Jones from their 3 yard line to let them out of the hole: Claudius Osei fell down after taking a bad angle, Ernie Sims was blocked, Ray Piquion was blocked, Sam McGrew was blocked, Pat Watkins was late with run support.
--14 yard run allowed by QB Quinn: Marcello Church was blocked, Buster Davis was blocked but did get over to make the play, Pat Watkins and Antonio Cromartie were blocked.
7. Our pass defense was in control of things for most of the game, but I was very disappointed with our lack of pressure late in the game when Notre Dame was struggling to keep an OL on the field due to a rash of injuries. Our failure to generate any pressure during this part of the game was the primary reason Notre Dame was able to have a lot of success moving the ball in the second half. Fortunately, we were able to keep them out of the end zone as the D really did a great job stiffening up in the red zone, but we did allow 175 yards through the air. The lowlights for our pass defense included:
--12 yard catch allowed by WR McKnight beating Allen Augustin. I think we were confused by their formation shift here.
--8 yard catch allowed by WR Jenkins on a 3rd and 9 play beating Bryant McFadden just short of the marker allowing Notre Dame into a situation where they could go for the first down instead of punting.
--9 yard catch allowed by WR Stovall for a 2nd and 6 conversion beating Antonio Cromartie who was playing too much cushion.
--5 yard catch allowed by TE Clark for a 3rd and 4 conversion beating B.J. Ward.
--11 yard catch and run allowed by TE Fasano beating Kyler Hall who did a poor job on the attempted open field tackle.
--10 yard catch allowed by RB Jones on a shovel pass: Ray Piquion missed a tackle, Chris Davis was blocked, B.J. Ward was blocked, Ernie Sims was blocked, Jerome Carter was blocked. I do wish we would add this play to our arsenal.
--9 yard catch and run allowed by RB Grant for a 3rd and 7 conversion: Nobody covered Grant out of the backfield and Michael Boulware missed a tackle.
--15 yard catch allowed by WR Jenkins beating Rufus Brown who was giving way too much cushion.
--41 yard catch and run allowed by WR Jenkins beating Antonio Cromartie on a sideline pattern. Cromartie compounded the problem by missing the tackle, then Claudius Osei's weak attempt at a tackle was easily broken. Ernie Sims possibly saved a TD on the play after Osei's missed tackle.
--14 yard catch allowed by RB Jones for a 3rd and 7 conversion. Nobody covered him and all our linebackers dropped back into a deep zone playing prevent.
--9 yard catch allowed on a pass over the middle to WR Stovall beating Kyler Hall for a 3rd and 8 conversion.
8. FSU's offense went three and out and punted on a drive where we had starting field position at the Notre Dame 34 yard line. This sort of thing is what keeps us from being at the level we should strive to be on offense IMO. With the way we often can't capitalize on good field position and so often have to settle for field goals in the red zone, I term this as our offense going into molasses mode.
9. On our punt from the Notre Dame 35 yard line in the second quarter, Jesse Stein did not come close to pinning them deep, putting the ball into the end zone for a poor 15 yard net punt.
10. The NBC announcers continuously had negative comments about our play selection in the fourth quarter, riding a sanctimonious high horse to criticize Bobby Bowden for doing anything other than conventional running plays to run out the clock. Pat Haden was particularly indignant about our running two reverses. Clue to Pat Haden: if you watch FSU football regularly, you would know that we will throw in a reverse and/or a fake reverse nearly every time in the fourth quarter when we've otherwise packed away the offense. For us this is not even a trick play really. But we do this so that we're not *totally* quitting on the possibility of scoring and keeping the chains moving around other plays where our intent is solely on chewing clock. In other words, we're not going to just hand the ball back to the other team.
1. Our passing game was on fire, Rix's errors notwithstanding, particularly in a first quarter that saw us put up 187 yards and two touchdowns in the air. Chris Rix seemingly could complete any deep ball he threw up as Notre Dame's secondary simply couldn't cover Craphonso Thorpe and P.K. Sam. Chris Rix finished the day completing 17 of 31 for 327 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs. Our passing game was so lethal in this game that we averaged 10.55 yards per *attempt* and 19.24 yards per completion. Game ball to Chris Rix for having the long ball working against the Irish. Craphonso Thorpe finished the day with a gaudy 7 catch for 217 yard and 2 TD performance that also happened to be a new record for receiving yardage by an opponent *in the history of Notre Dame football*. Game ball also to Craphonso Thorpe for his magnificent performance the day after attending his grandfather's funeral. The highlights in the air included:
--Craphonso Thorpe with a 38 yard catch on a deep sideline pattern on the first play of the game. This was a play that really set the tone for what was in store for the Irish. Greg Jones did a great job picking up a blitz and this was a perfect pass by Chris Rix.
--B.J. Dean with a 9 yard catch. I liked the play call here and still wish we wouldn't use the passes to the tight ends and fullbacks as just one token pass per game.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a spectacular 51 yard catch and run on a deep sideline pattern. He almost scored on this play as the DB was only able to make the play with a last moment grab of Thorpe's foot to trip him up to prevent the TD. This was another perfect pass by Chris Rix, hitting Thorpe in stride to beat a big blitz by Notre Dame.
--P.K. Sam with an excellent 6 yard TD catch on a fade pattern. He just had too much height for the DB to handle. This was another good throw by Rix.
--P.K. Sam with an incredible 48 yard catch on a jump ball thrown by Chris Rix after Rix had to scramble to avoid two tackles in or near the zone for a near safety, then throwing deep downfield across his body before going out of bounds at the end of the rollout. My reaction while following this play live was "No, no, what are you doing, whew, no, what are you doing, whew, no, YES, are you kidding me?" then lots of laughter. This was an absolutely ridiculous play that Rix made here. This is the good that comes with the bad with him. The pressure was allowed by Ray Willis, but Rix really ran into that more than anything, then there was pressure allowed by Alex Barron that Rix escaped. While successful here, this is the sort of play that dries up for us when we face competition that can equal us in athleticism.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a spectacular 35 yard TD on a deep sideline pattern. This was another perfect pass by Chris Rix. Pat Haden could only groan while watching this one.
--Craphonso Thorpe with an 18 yard catch on a medium range out pattern. This was a good play call to fool DB Duff into thinking Thorpe was going deep again after our early success.
--A deep pass to Craphonso Thorpe picked up a defensive pass interference penalty for us.
--Leon Washington with a 16 yard catch and run on a flare pass. Chris Davis and P.K. Sam had good blocks on this play. Leon had a good move to get 5 extra yards. This was a very good catch by Leon, coming up with a ball thrown behind him. This was not a good throw by Chris Rix.
--A slant pass to Willie Reid picked up another defensive pass interference penalty to allow us to get a 3rd and 5 conversion.
--Chris Davis with an excellent 24 yard catch on a flag pattern. This was yet another perfect pass by Chris Rix on a deep pattern.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a 9 yard catch and run on a drag route over the middle.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a 38 yard TD catch and run on a semi-deep sideline pattern. He was wide open on this one and had a nice little juke move to navigate the final 12 yards of this play, prompting yet another groan from Pat Haden. You could really tell the great plays by FSU by the tone of Pat's groans. ;)
--8 yard catch by Willie Reid on a curl pattern. At this point in the game (third quarter), the Warchant was coming through extremely loud on the TV broadcast. Great job by the Nole fans in attendance.
--Craphonso Thorpe with a 28 yard catch to get us out from deep in our territory and to cap off his 217 yard day. This was another perfect pass by Chris Rix after a rollout.
2. Chris Rix made a few good decisions with his scrambling under pressure on designed passing plays. He actually seemed like he might be starting to get better with his progressions before taking off to run as he utilized his backs as outlets on two occasions. Here's the list of his good decisions in this area:
--Rix with a 7 yard run on a 2nd and 6 scramble. This was a good decision to run as the first down yardage was there to be claimed.
--Rix found Lorenzo Booker in the flat for a dump-off pass after reading the defense and seeing nothing open elsewhere. Booker made an awesome move beating LB Watson in the open field to pick up 5 yards on the play. This is a much better option than throwing the ball away or scrambling if there is nothing there. If Rix starts to recognize and utilize his 3rd/4th/5th options in our pass patterns, I think this is the element that has been missing from his game that has led to most of his problems. It's entirely possible that it could be a night/day difference for him performancewise if the light bulb has finally started to come on for him in this area. It just depends on how quickly it goes from a once-in-awhile thing to an every play element of his decision making.
--Rix with an 8 yard run on a scramble. This was a good decision to run, but he should have slid for a 6 yard gain instead of taking the hit to get the extra two yards.
--Rix found Greg Jones in the flat for another dump-off pass after reading the defense and seeing nothing open elsewhere. This one was stopped for no gain, but I put it in the positives section because at least Rix is starting to see more options. As he improves in this area, he'll be able to get these passes out faster with a better chance at positive results.
3. Our running game had a few bright moments, but really didn't get on track like we'd like to see it. In this game, we had 13 successful carries for 93 yards. Here's the list of successful carries on the ground:
--Greg Jones with a 6 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a late block, David Castillo was beat badly to his right to disrupt the play but Jones was able to break the tackle, Matt Meinrod may have gotten a late block (not sure here), Alex Barron with a decleater, Dominic Robinson with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 4 yard run on a QB draw play: James Coleman with a decleater, P.K. Sam needed a better block, Ray Willis didn't block anybody, Ron Lunford with a block, David Castillo needed to sustain his block longer, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a pancake. Castillo and Willis needed to block a LB on this one.
--Leon Washington with a 12 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block, P.K. Sam with a block. Leon looked very explosive hitting the hole on this run.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 5 yard run: James Coleman knocked a guy down, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo missed his block on a LB to kill the play but did get a double-team block with Meeks early in the play, Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron with a double-team block that ended with Meinrod getting a pancake, P.K. Sam with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 5 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, David Castillo needed a better block, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 2 yard run on a 3rd and 1 bootleg play: James Coleman didn't get a block, Paul Irons threw a guy down, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford with a block, David Castillo with a pancake, Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron with a double-team pancake, Bobby Meeks with a decleater lined up in the slot back spot in our power-I formation (I think it was Meeks). Rix with a great stiff arm to knock down a DE to avoid getting tackled in the open field. That got him around the corner and then he made a nice lunge at the sideline to get the first down yardage at the 3 yard line. Rix was rightfully pumped after this great play, but our ground game ultimately let us down on this drive as we had to settle for a field goal.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 5 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a light double-team block on Castillo's man then kind of got into the defender's way downfield, David Castillo with a double-team block then got another light block on a LB, Matt Meinrod with a block, Alex Barron with a block, P.K. Sam with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with an absolutely insane 13 yard run: B.J. Dean missed a block, Chris Rix with a downfield block, Chris Davis with a block, Ray Willis with a block then smothered a guy that Booker juked into falling down, Bobby Meeks with two blocks, David Castillo with a double-team block on Meeks' man then with a light block on a decleater attempt, Matt Meinrod and Alex Barron with a double-team block that Meinrod turned into a drive block, Barron got another block where he knocked another guy down. What can you say about Booker's moves on this run? He had five moves along the way: 1) nice cut inside a stunting DT, 2) cut to get around a LB then a broken tackle, 3) reversed field on a cut to shed a LB and a DE and was drifting backwards towards the line of scrimmage in the process, 4) stopped on a dime and utterly baffled a DB, leaving him sliding to the ground with another wicked cut, and 5) made another cut to take the play to the outside to beat 3-4 more potential tacklers, picking up a block from Rix along the way. UNREAL! I expect that he's going to break one of these type of runs for a TD sometime and it may be something that could even top Peter Warrick's historical run against Louisiana Tech.
--Leon Washington with an 8 yard run after near disaster on a fumbled pitch in the end zone: B.J. Dean missed his block, Donnie Carter with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks missed a decleater, David Castillo with a decleater, Matt Meinrod missed his block, Alex Barron with a decleater then got another block, Paul Irons with a block, Chris Rix with a big block to help Washington get positive yardage and ensure he got out of the end zone. Leon turned the terrible play of the fumble into a positive one as he somehow got away from two tacklers, one of which was on him as he was still trying to make the recovery, and he managed to somehow escape giving up a safety that would have cost us the shutout. I think he knew that Mickey and the entire defense would not be too happy with him had this fumble blown the shutout after all the successful efforts our defense had a stopping Notre Dame inside the 10 yard line.
--Chris Davis with a 22 yard run on a reverse: B.J. Dean with a block, Matt Henshaw with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Matt Meinrod didn't block anybody, Alex Barron with a block, P.K. Sam missed a block. Davis made a nice move to get 13 extra yards on this play.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 4 yard run: James Coleman missed his block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford needed a better block, John Frady knocked his guy down, Matt Meinrod didn't get a block, Mario Henderson with a block.
--Lorenzo Booker with a 5 yard run: James Coleman knocked a guy down, Lorne Sam didn't block anybody, Ray Willis with a block, Ron Lunford and John Frady with a double-team pancake, Matt Meinrod with a block, Mario Henderson needed to turn his man to the outside as his guy made the play.
--James Coleman with a 2 yard run on a 3rd and 1 play: Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis didn't get a block, Ron Lunford with a pancake, John Frady and Mario Henderson with a double-team block that Frady turned into a decleater, Matt Meinrod with a block.
4. Xavier Beitia made all three of his field goal attempts from 40, 44 and 22 yards. Joey Kaleikini did a good job handling a high snap on the first one.
5. Our DL had a decent game, but didn't really get the level of pressure we need (as mentioned earlier). Any time you get an interception from a defensive tackle, you know things are going your way at least a little bit. Here are the highlights for our defensive line for the game:
--Eric Moore with a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage for an incompletion.
--Jeff Womble with an excellent job on a -1 yard TFL to stop a run by RB Jones despite being held on the play.
--Broderick Bunkley with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Jones.
--Huge pressure and a near sack by Charles Howard forced an incompletion as he hit QB Quinn as he threw the ball.
--Pressure by Kevin Emanuel forced a bad toss on a shovel pass for an incompletion.
--Jeff Womble with a shocking interception, given that he's probably the least likely candidate on our defense to ever come down with a pick, much less one where he has to dive to make the grab. I did a freeze frame review of every angle that they showed of the interception and think that the ball did hit the ground and wiggled a bit in his hands on impact with the ground before he brought it in. It looked good on the initial angle in real time as he did have both hands on the ball as he dove for it, but as he came down, he pinned it against the ground. I'm not positive on the exact ruling there with regard to having possession established and the ground causing a fumble/incompletion. Regardless of whether or not he actually brought it in, it was still a very athletic play by the big guy to hustle out there and make that dive. It was ruled an INT and an INT it will always be. It was great to see his celebration and his teammates' enjoyment of the moment as he was leaving the field. They were really happy for him at a level beyond just being happy with getting the turnover.
--Broderick Bunkley with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Grant.
--Eric Moore with a tackle to hold a run by RB Grant to a 1 yard gain.
--Darnell Dockett with big pressure to force an incompletion into the end zone on a fourth down play.
--Broderick Bunkley with a pass deflection behind the line of scrimmage on a screen pass for an incompletion.
6. Our secondary had an excellent day, getting involved in quite a number of plays, and putting up a touchdown of their own. Leroy Smith, Bryant McFadden, Jerome Carter and Stanford Samuels all had standout plays in this one that helped preserve the shutout.
--Leroy Smith with perfect coverage on a deep pass to WR Jenkins for a pass breakup and incompletion.
--Good job by Leroy Smith and Michael Boulware in holding a 3rd and 10 pass to RB Powers-Neal to a 5 yard gain for a three and out on Notre Dame's first offensive series..
--Claudius Osei, A.J. Nicholson, and Darnell Dockett with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Jones.
--Stanford Samuels with a nice job knocking TE Fasano out of bounds after a 6 yard catch on a 3rd and 10 play to force a punting situation.
--Bryant McFadden stopped a 3rd and 9 pass over the middle to WR McKnight after a 5 yard gain. He forced a fumble on this hit, but Notre Dame was able to recover. This completed another three and out series for our defense. We were really tackling well through this period of the game.
--Jerome Carter with a vicious tackle holding a 3rd and 10 completion on a crossing route to WR Jenkins to a 3 yard gain. Carter just picked him up off the ground and planted him, prompting yet another groan from Pat Haden.
--Leroy Smith with a vicious hit for a pass breakup. The ball deflected off his helmet into the air and was intercepted by Jeff Womble.
--Stanford Samuels with good coverage for a 3rd and 3 incompletion on a slant pass to WR Jenkins.
--Kyler Hall with a nice pass breakup for a 4th and 3 incompletion on a slant pass to WR Stovall for a big stop.
--Bryant McFadden with an excellent pass breakup in the end zone on a flag pattern to WR Stovall.
--Bryant McFadden with a pass breakup in the end zone for a huge fourth down stop to preserve the shutout.
--Jerome Carter with an excellent pass breakup in the end zone on a pass to TE Fasano. Carter got his hand in there just in time to pry the ball away before Fasano could establish possession. This play was another TD saving play.
--Leroy Smith with a 90 yard interception return for a TD after cutting in front of an out pattern to WR McKnight. He timed his move on the ball perfectly, made the grab, and then took it the distance for a huge exclamation point to the FSU victory. Game ball to Leroy Smith for the huge play and his other solid work in this game.
--Kyler Hall with a nice pass breakup on a slant pass to WR Stovall.
--Jerome Carter with a nice pass breakup on a pass to TE Clark for an incompletion.
--Stanford Samuels with an interception stepping in front of a pass to WR Stovall for a 4th and 10 stop. Samuels returned this INT 31 yards.
7. Our linebackers were extremely active in a solid performance that included seeing considerable improvement for them in pass coverage. Ernie Sims again was able to put up eye-opening tackle numbers in limited mop-up duty as he tied with Michael Boulware for the team lead in this game with eight, including four unassisted. His tackles to minutes played ratio so far this season has to be incredible. A.J. Nicholson had another solid start in place of the injured Kendyll Pope. The highlights for the linebacking unit included:
--Good pass breakup by Michael Boulware on a pass over the middle to TE Fasano.
--Allen Augustin with a good job shaking a block to make a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Grant.
--A.J. Nicholson with a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage for a 3rd and 10 stop.
--Excellent coverage by Michael Boulware to stuff a 3rd and goal play from the 8 yard line for only a 2 yard gain on a pass to TE Fasano.
--Sam McGrew with a devastating -3 yard TFL to destroy a screen pass, prompting yet another groan from Pat Haden.
--A.J. Nicholson and Allen Augustin with a tackle for no gain on a 4th and 1 run by RB Jones for a huge stop.
--Ernie Sims with a -2 yard TFL on a run by RB Jones.
--A.J. Nicholson with a pass deflection that started a pinball machine effect where the Notre Dame receiver had a chance at it, but then it was deflected again way further downfield to B.J. Ward who almost was able to bring it in for an interception, but it ended up as an incompletion.
--Sam McGrew with a forced fumble on a tackle on a run by RB Jones, but Notre Dame was able to recover the ball.
--Ernie Sims with a tackle for a 1 yard gain on a run by RB Jones.
--Michael Boulware and Stanford Samuels stopped a run by RB Jones for no gain.
--Michael Boulware with a pass breakup in the end zone for another huge fourth down stop.
--Ernie Sims with a tackle for no gain on a run by RB Jones. Broderick Bunkley was also in on the tackle.
8. B.J. Ward totally skied to block a 24 yard Notre Dame field goal attempt to preserve our shutout early in the game. This was definitely a huge play as Notre Dame came out with nothing on the board after taking over possession of the ball at our 9 yard line with a chance to cut into a 10-0 FSU lead. Ward tied the FSU career kick blocks record with this one. Keep up the incredible job B.J. Your legacy in Seminole history is assured simply by the amazing job you've done in this department. The pictures in the Tallahassee Democrat photo gallery are mind-blowing as to how high Ward is able to sky on these leaps. It was this play that really got us thinking of a shutout as a possibility because it started to seem meant to be at that point.
9. FSU had 219 total yards and 187 passing yards in the first quarter alone. The defense was not to be outdone as we held Notre Dame to only one first down, along with holding them to just 27 yards rushing and 39 yards passing to total 66 yards of offense in the entire first half.
10. Marcello Church had a huge hit on a tackle at the 20 yard line on a kickoff return.
While this game does provide us with a very good boost in the confidence department, we'd be unwise to consider any of our remaining games as givens. We still have two potentially difficult road games sandwiching a home game against a team that has beaten us the last two seasons. While the Clemson game now does look like it might not be as difficult as it could have been, we have to enter this game with the mindset that we can still lose any game if we take any of them for granted. One only has to look to the 1999 game against Clemson to recognize how difficult it can be to come out with a win there. They are a team that has their backs against the wall now. That makes them potentially very dangerous if we don't come out 100% focused.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
Offense: Craphonso Thorpe
Defense: Leroy Smith for his big TD, his role in two turnovers, and otherwise solid play. This was really just a really good team effort on the defensive side though with nobody standing out head and shoulders above everyone else. But I'll give the nod to Leroy for coming up with the huge play for the score.
Special Teams: Xavier Beitia
(C) 2003 Kenny Moore. All Rights Reserved