Sunday Blitz

Florida State lacked poise and power Saturday night at Clemson. The Tigers, meanwhile, made their intentions known early. They shut down the Seminoles' running game, relied heavily on blitzes and forced quarterback <b>Chris Rix</b> to make plays. Rix couldn't do it, and now FSU finds itself in a heap of trouble heading into Saturday's final home game against North Carolina State.

An overcast, gray Sunday greeted the Seminoles (8-2) as they checked in with the training staff as required following a game. After landing in Tally around 3:30 a.m., and Saturday's debacle still fresh in their minds, it wasn't surprising to find groggy players in a somber mood.

FSU found itself out of the national championship picture for the third consecutive season, falling from third to No. 11 in the latest coaches poll Sunday.

The good news is the Seminoles can still clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference title and automatic Bowl Championship Series berth with a win over the Wolfpack.

N.C. State, however, has beaten FSU the past two seasons and also has an extra week of preparation for Saturday. And it wouldn't be a surprise if Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato, a former FSU assistant who knows the Seminoles inside-out, borrows a page from Clemson's defensive game plan.

That was to make the Seminoles one-dimensional on offense and force Rix to make quick and correct decisions.

Rix, under constant pressure, missed his target on several throws and never could find his rhythm. He finished with 194 passing yards and two interceptions -- the first ended FSU's only first-half drive inside Clemson territory - and was benched in favor of backup Fabian Walker.

Quarterback concerns aside for a moment, the Seminoles were still searching for answers Sunday.

Tailback Leon Washington could only shake his head in frustration over the Seminoles' lack of offense. FSU running backs -- Greg Jones, Washington and fullback B.J. Dean -- were limited to 18 rushing yards on 11 caries.

The Seminoles fell behind early and were never able to solve the Tigers' blitz package.

"I thought we would run the ball a little more. There were some circumstances, but I didn't think we were down that bad that early that we had to abandon the run," Washington said Sunday.

"But me being a running back, I would love to run the ball more. Shoot, Greg and Book (Lorenzo Booker) would love to run the ball also. We don't know what it feels like to run the ball. Getting three carries, getting four carries a game, Greg getting seen carries, it's really hard to get a feeling to run the ball.

"In my opinion, I don't know how everyone feels, but I think we did (got away from running game too early). I think we could have stayed with it a little more, try to settle them down with the blitzes they were doing, but I don't know."

FSU obviously didn't have answers hours earlier, especially when it came to Clemson's defensive scheme.

The Tigers rushed linebackers as well as the safeties from all angles in an effort to confuse Rix and his receivers -- both are required to make sight adjustments when opponents blitz. Of course, the offensive line and running backs also have blocking responsibilities as well, and all areas admittedly suffered breakdowns.

"Certain sight adjustments have to take place and certain routes have to be run and last night we weren't picking that up," Washington said. "I guess they (Tigers) believed our quarterback can't sight adjust on a perimeter blitz (safety).

"Last night we tried to run a little freeze box (Rix looks to sideline after approaching line of scrimmage and checking defensive scheme ) to see what they were doing. Trying to make a call (adjustment), we have to get better at that. When they blitz, and we have a run call and they are blitzing, we have to somehow make adjustment and get off that call. Last night both players and coaches, I don't think we did a good job of taking care of business."

Washington expects much of the same from a Wolfpack defense that has struggled this season.

"I remember last year, N.C. State did the same thing," Washington said.

"You definitely think coach Amato will do the same thing. So, we have to prepare ourselves better for it and make our sight adjustments and make the correct throws."

Washington still believes the Seminoles will bounce back due to leadership and better team chemistry.

"We are a lot better in team chemistry and things like that," Washington said.

"I think we will bounce back. There's a sense of urgency. We definitely don't want to be in a regular bowl. They (Wolfpack) beat us last two years so it's going to be a struggle. You look around (the country), and it's … I am telling ya, Miami and Virginia Tech going down (losing Saturday). I don't know, they have great athletes. Sometimes it comes down to execution and coaching. You think the teams with the best athletes would win, but it's not happening like that this year."

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