Slowing Rivers

<b>North Carolina State</b> has won four straight behind the resurgence of quarterback <b>Philip Rivers.</b> No kidding, smiles Florida State graduate assistant coach <b>Kirby Smart,</b> who watched video of Rivers into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Rivers, who entered the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns in the Wolfpack's last victory over Virginia. He has completed 72.2 percent of his passes and thrown for 3,318 yards this season.

Smart, who works with the Seminoles' secondary under defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, was blurry-eyed watching Rivers dissect opponent defenses.

FSU, of course, was torched in last Saturday's disappointing defeat at Clemson, knocking the Seminoles from the national title race.

"We watched a 150 plays last night on third down, trying to figure out how you are going to stop him," Smart told TheTerritory following Wednesday's practice.

"Whether he's a guy you blitz, or a guy you drop against. You watch tape and people drop, cover eight and rush three and he beats them. He blitzes him, he beats them. You counter blitz and send five, and he beats them. It's frustrating. They are really good. You have to be patient. They are going to make their plays.

"You just can't give up the big play. You've got to play great red-zone defense, which we've done. Hold them to field goals and create turnovers. They are going to get some yards -- you hate admitting that. He's good at what he does."

Rivers, of course, is the first quarterback in conference history to record three 3,000-yard passing seasons. FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Wednesday that Rivers reminds him of former Florida Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. While neither are the most graceful or gifted quarterbacks, there's no denying their production.

That thought went through my mind," Bowden said.

"I was thinking about how accurate he (Rivers) is and how he reads anything. I said, it's like Dan Wuerffel again. It really is. They are close alike as any two quarterbacks I can think of."

Two years ago, N.C. State was the first ACC team to win a conference game in Tallahassee. Last year, the Wolfpack neutralized the Seminoles' offense in a 17-7 victory. Not helping matters was the Seminoles' spotty defensive performance at Clemson.

"They were hot," Smart said of the Clemson Tigers.

"(We had) some bad combinations. We didn't take any more chances than we normally do, we just go beat. They hit the passes they had to hit."

FSU defensive end Eric Moore also has studied plenty of film of Rivers. He said the Seminoles' approach won't be a big secret.

"He gets deep in the pocket -- he will drop back and then step up when he feels the pressure," Moore said. "We just have to stay disciplined and get the that push. We have to get a hand in his face, make him throw the ball quicker than he wants and give him some difficult passing lanes so (secondary) can make some plays."

Of course, the Seminoles' troubles last Saturday were not confined to one position.. They committed three turnovers, were penalized 10 times for 105 yards and went 4-for-14 on third down. Worse yet, FSU looked flat emotionally as the Tigers beat the visitors on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Moore vows that won't happen Saturday in the Seminoles‘ regulars-season home finale.

"Yes, I guarantee the emotion will be there," Moore said.

"We know we need to stay focused and make plays. We went out there and made so many mistakes that you can't fault anybody. Coach Bowden has been telling us this week that mistakes come back and haunt you. Well, that's what happened. We had a lot of mistakes on both sides of the field Saturday."


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