(C) 2002 Kenny Moore. All Rights Reserved.
FSU responded to our stunning and bitterly disappointing loss to the Louisville Cardinals by pulling away from a tough Clemson Tigers squad in the second half to notch our fourth consecutive victory in the game now known as the Bowden Bowl. It certainly wasn't pretty, but it was a W against a quality opponent and with the way our D has been playing, I'll take any win we can get for the rest of the year.
In the Louisville monsoon, all my confidence that we are going to be much better this year than last year by virtue of the extra year of experience was washed away. Any confidence that I had in our defense to come up with a clutch stop when the game is on the line was washed away. The hopefulness that our offensive line was ready to win a game for us on the ground on a night where very little was going right for Chris Rix was washed away and stuffed by Louisville's defense. The hopefulness that Chris Rix would get to the level we're hoping to see him at this season was severely damaged. The concern I have about our lackadaisical attitude in games against unranked opponents or when we get comfortable leads proved to be spot on. My worst fears about our defense not having the conditioning/stamina to maintain their intensity for 60-minutes in a close game proved true on this night as again we were clearly the more tired team at the end of the game as we were against Iowa State. The hopes and expectations for the season completely changed as a result of that Thursday night debacle in Louisville and so my post-game thoughts on this Clemson game were largely of just being happy to get the win. That happiness won't be adequately represented in the analysis below because I will continue to critique our efforts from the perspective of what it takes to be a championship caliber team. We're a long way away from being able to entertain those notions, just as we were last season, especially with the troubles we're having on defense.
The Clemson game was a very good victory over a quality opponent, but it was not without it's areas of major concern. FSU did a great job of responding in a big way every time Clemson took a lead on us. We did not allow them to carry any momentum for more than a few moments as every time they would hit us hard, we'd hit back even harder. But FSU teams of the past would not let an unranked Clemson opponent even hit us in Doak Campbell Stadium as the Tigers could only muster 10 points against us in 5 previous meetings in Tallahassee since FSU joined the ACC. So the fact that we were hit is reason enough for concern and indicative that our level of play is still not "back" to previous norms, not even close. The way we were hit and the way Clemson carved through our defense in the first half is another major concern. Our struggles in the passing game are another concern. I fear that we just do not have the number of players playing at a championship level as we're going to need to get victories over any highly ranked opponents.
The major positive from this game was that it was a lot of fun to watch. While it was nerve-wracking in a way that I'd prefer to not have my nerves wracked, there was a lot of excitement and energy in watching the two teams go back and forth lighting up the scoreboard in the first half. Hats off to the announced crowd of 78,841 for making it to the game on a Thursday night.
1. Our passing defense looked as poor as I have ever seen it look in this game. That's not exactly the type of statement you want to make heading into Miami week, but it's the reality we face. Our DBs had a nightmarish performance yielding 334 passing yards, most of which came in a first half that saw Clemson light up our defense for 340 total yards of offense. The play of the Seminole safeties was particularly troubling, leading me to wonder if we might be better off moving a couple of backup corners to safety to give them a chance to contribute with a better effort than we're currently getting. Jerome Carter, Kyler Hall, B.J. Ward, Claudius Osei, and Yohance Buchanan were all extremely generous providers to the Clemson offensive attack all night long, with Hall having the worst night of all. I noticed that Mickey Andrews even put in true freshman Pat Watkins with the game on the line, evidently in the desperate hope that he might be able to do something right out there where the others were failing. The performance by our safeties in this game was much worse than any performance from any collective unit on our team all season. It was atrocious. It was not bad by FSU standards, it was bad by any team's standards. We have a major problem at both safety positions until someone here can step up their game considerably. I'd say that Jerome Carter and B.J. Ward should be the starters because I think the greatest chance for some positive plays come from these two from what has been shown on the field so far, but I do not in any way feel comfortable with the performance we will get from them, just hopeful that they can make a few positive contributions to offset the number of times they will be toasted. Kyler Hall doesn't look ready for NCAA I-A football at this time unless Saturday's effort was an anomaly. The performance by the safeties greatly overshadowed what was actually a pretty good game by our cornerbacks. Miami is salivating and with good reason. The boatload of lowlights for the secondary included:
-- 14 yard catch allowed by TE Hall, beating Travis Johnson, Michael Boulware and Rufus Brown. FSU tried a zone blitz with Jerel Hudson and Kendyll Pope while dropping Travis Johnson into coverage, but we failed to get to the QB.
-- 28 yard TD catch allowed by WR Currie beating Jerome Carter and Kyler Hall BADLY. He was WIDE OPEN on this play as both our safeties were *completely clueless* in coverage. Carter was totally beat and Hall was nowhere to be found with help.
-- 42 yard catch and run allowed by TE Hall beating B.J. Ward and Leroy Smith on a pass that was actually overthrown and intended for a wide receiver. Unreal.
-- 5 yard catch allowed by WR Youngblood beating Bryant McFadden. I wouldn't put a 5 yard catch in this section normally, but this one was on a ball batted high in the air. McFadden was giving too much cushion at the snap and couldn't make up enough ground to break this up or intercept it as I feel he should have been able to do.
-- 21 yard catch allowed to WR Currie beating Kendyll Pope badly as we tried a cornerback and linebacker blitz with Stanford Samuels and Michael Boulware. Jerome Carter was late with help for Pope on the play.
-- 14 yard catch allowed to TE Hall for a 3rd and 2 conversion beating Allen Augustin.
-- 41 yard catch allowed to WR McElvey on a reverse pass beating Kyler Hall badly as hall left his coverage responsibility biting on the reverse. Claudius Osei should have been out there providing help, but was nowhere near anyone at the point the catch was made. I knew Clemson was going to run a trick play after the lengthy delay due to the injury to their player.
-- 58 yard catch allowed to WR McElvey on a deep ball that should have been an automatic interception for Kyler Hall. In fact, as the ball was in the air, I stood up and yelled "Kyler Hall!" in anticipation of him making the easy play to somewhat redeem himself after a rough first half. Instead Hall made an atrocious play allowing the catch. I have no idea what he was doing out there. Not only did he fail to make the play on the ball, but he compounded the problem by falling down and not even making the stop, allowing another 30 or so yards after the catch. Leroy Smith was beat on the play and fell down too, but this was Hall's play all the way IMO. The fact that he allowed this catch on a play like this, late in the half, on a ball begging to be intercepted, leaves me very unsure if he's ready to play at the major college level.
-- 10 yard TD pass allowed to WR Hamilton beating Rufus Brown on an excellent improvisational play by Willie Simmons on a scramble. We had four guys in the end zone covering three Clemson receivers in the area and couldn't keep anyone on Hamilton. This was a poor job by Rufus Brown who was very lackadaisical with his coverage. He needed to stick tight on his man, but let him drift away too easily. Chris Rix needs to watch and learn from this play by Simmons as this is a prime example of the sort of play his athletic ability should be producing.
-- 17 yard catch and run allowed on a WR screen pass to Youngblood beating Rufus Brown who gave way too much cushion at the snap.
-- 41 yard catch allowed on a bomb to WR Hamilton as he totally blew by Yohance Buchanan and outfought Claudius Osei for the ball. No matter who we put in at safety, the results were the same. Sigh.
-- 12 yard catch and run allowed on a quick out to WR McElvey beating Bryant McFadden who was picked on the play with no call from the refs.
2. Our rushing defense had a pretty good night with most of the damage done by QB Willie Simmons on scrambles. We held Clemson to 107 yards rushing on 33 carries, with Simmons accounting for 50 of those yards and WR Hamilton getting 23 more on reverses. The Clemson running backs could only muster 37 yards on 16 carries, but we did give up two costly TD's among those 16 carries. The lowlights for our run D included:
-- 12 yard scramble allowed by QB Simmons: Michael Boulware and Kendyll Pope were late in reacting to the run as they were out on coverage assignments. If they leave the coverage assignments, then they get in the negatives category for getting beat in pass coverage, so it's a tough job when there is a mobile QB out there and our secondary needs so much help. But we need to be able to prevent 10+ yard gains on these type of running plays and the LBs are the ones that have to improve on their reaction time in reading the play.
-- 12 yard run allowed by QB Simmons: Kendyll Pope didn't stay at home as he bit on the fake to the running back and got out of position, Rufus Brown was blocked, and Jerome Carter needed to react faster on run support.
-- 12 yard run allowed by WR Hamilton on a reverse: Kevin Emanuel overpursued, Kendyll Pope was blocked, Bryant McFadden was occupied in coverage, and Jerome Carter was late with run support.
-- 2 yard run allowed by RB Kelly who juked Michael Boulware out of his shoes to get into the end zone. That's twice I've seen Boulware juked in a major way like this with the previous time being on the 4th down play where UVa converted on the drive that ultimately ended our shutout. That's particularly disappointing because speed and movement is what should be the strength of Boulware's game.
-- 17 yard run allowed by QB Simmons on a draw play: Jerel Hudson took a bad angle, fell down and knocked down Michael Boulware, Kendyll Pope was late reacting to the run and too slow to close ground on Simmons in the open field, Kyler Hall was late with run support.
-- 19 yard run allowed by WR Hamilton on a reverse: Kendyll Pope and Alonzo Jackson didn't stay at home as they overpursued on the fake, Rufus Brown was juked and couldn't touch Hamilton.
-- 10 yard TD run allowed by RB Kelly on an option pitch: Allen Augustin was blocked, Jerome Carter was blocked, Kendyll Pope was blocked. Nobody got themselves into a position to make the play. We have to be more physical in fighting through these blocks.
3. Clemson wasn't able to do much to stop our ground game over the long haul, but we did have a fair amount of unsuccessful carries on the night. The numbers show 16 unsuccessful designed running plays for 11 yards. Here are the lowlights for our ground game:
-- Greg Jones with a 2 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis didn't block anybody, Montrae Holland pulled and missed his block on the guy he needed to hit but did get a block on another guy, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a pancake.
-- Greg Jones with a 1 yard run: Torrance Washington with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis totally missed his block to kill the play, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Torrance Washington with no gain on a 2nd and 1 run: Anquan Boldin needed a better block, Alex Barron with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Antoine Mirambeau was beat badly to kill the play, Montrae Holland with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a -2 yard run: Torrance Washington didn't block anybody, Alex Barron missed his initial block but got a late token block, Todd Williams and Antoine Mirambeau with a double team block, Montrae Holland missed his block on a LB to kill the play, Brett Williams was beat to the inside to also kill the play.
-- Greg Jones with a -1 yard run: Torrance Washington missed his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis and Antoine Mirambeau with a double team block but their guy got in on the play, Montrae Holland pulled and got a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams needed a better block but Holland helped with his man. Holland actually missed on the guy he should have hit (the right DE) and that killed the play.
-- Greg Jones with a 2 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis knocked his man down, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a -1 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland and Antoine Mirambeau with a double team block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block he needed to sustain longer (but his guy didn't get in on the play), Paul Irons was beat to the outside but his guy didn't make the play either. There was just no hole or push from the line on this one.
-- Greg Jones with a 1 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland knocked his guy down, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block but was beat to help kill the play, Brett Williams with a block. There were just too many guys to block here as Clemson put 9 in the box.
-- Chris Rix with no gain on a bootleg run as he was unable to beat an unblocked defender that stayed at home in covering the corner. This was just good D by Clemson.
-- Nick Maddox with a 1 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, B.J. Dean didn't block anybody, Patrick Hughes with a light block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a late block but missed the guy he should have hit, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams was beat to the inside to kill the play.
-- Greg Jones with a -1 yard run: B.J. Dean with an excellent lead block knocking his guy down, Patrick Hughes with a decleater, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a downfield block (I think), Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a downfield block (I think), Alex Barron with a block. This one was bad running by Jones as he bounced backwards and to the outside when he should have cut under Dean's block.
-- Chris Rix with a 2 yard run on a QB draw: Anquan Boldin and Talman Gardner with a double team block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland missed his block to kill the play, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block. Clemson stunted on the DL and the right DT made the play. Holland needed to block him or a LB and got neither.
-- Nick Maddox with a 2 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau and Todd Williams with a double team block, Brett Williams needed a better block, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Anquan Boldin with a 1 yard run on a reverse: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis and Antoine Mirambeau with a double team block, Montrae Holland pulled and got a decleater then a second block on the same guy (excellent job), Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. Boldin should have taken this play to the sideline but he couldn't outrun a Clemson DE to the outside (very concerning).
-- Willie Reid with a 2 yard run: B.J. Dean with a decleater, Patrick Hughes didn't block anybody, Ray Willis knocked his guy down, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with two blocks, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a light block, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Willie Reid with a 2 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes needed a better block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau and Brett Williams with a double team block (I think), Todd Williams with a block, Paul Irons needed to sustain his block longer.
4. It was not the best of nights for the FSU passing game. Statistically, Chris Rix actually didn't do bad at all for the limited number of attempts he had, going 8 for 13 for 114 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs. But any time Florida State can only get 114 passing yards in a game, it's going to lead to puzzled looks.
Adrian McPherson did nothing to show that he is ready to challenge for the starting QB position, despite being given a more than generous opportunity to prove himself by Coach Bowden. McPherson failed to complete a pass in six attempts and our offense sputtered whenever he wasn't handing the ball off. Despite the thoughts by the ESPN broadcast crew, and many FSU fans (outside of the student section) to the contrary, I was really happy to see McPherson get this extensive opportunity, and I'm not saying that from the same perspective as the idiotic boo-birds in our student section. I think Coach Bowden handled the situation just right in recognizing the potential for a divisive situation being the downfall of this team.
Chris Rix hasn't performed at a level where he should have an automatic, unquestioned lock on the starting job. But at the same time he has not performed so poorly as to lose the job, nor has McPherson or Walker done anything to indicate that they should be the starter. I think giving McPherson a real chance like this to show what he can do at a critical point in the game though was A) very fair to where *nobody* on our team should have any thoughts that the staff is playing favorites in their decision making to the detriment of the team (as has appeared to possibly be the case in the past based on the attitude I've picked up on in various quotes attributed to players), B) very helpful in the development of Adrian McPherson as a player we are going to need in a big way at some point down the line, and C) very beneficial in demonstrating to the "the backup QB is the best player on the team" crowd that the staff does know what they are doing in designating who is the starter and who is the backup. Those boo-birds shut up at about the same time McPherson threw an ugly incompletion into triple coverage. Yes, this move put the game more at risk for us, but I think the gamble was worth the risk as it served to head off a potentially serious morale issue that could have meant more losses than just the Clemson game. I do think that as long as Chris Rix is struggling with his decision making that McPherson and Walker should continue to get real opportunities like this wherever possible, just in case the lightbulb turns on brightly much faster for either of them.
In taking this position, I do not in any way advocate, or have not at any time advocated a change in the starting position. But after Rix's shaky performance in the Louisville game and apparent struggles at other points in the season, I just think it's wise for us to not put all our eggs in one basket when we have two other players loaded with potential on the bench. Rix is clearly ahead of McPherson and Walker, but he's also now had 18 games of experience to gain that advantage. I think more chances like this for McPherson and Walker will serve as greater motivation for Rix and will give our other options at the position some better experience than just mop-up duty in the event Rix gets injured or at any point proves to be no longer ahead of the others. In the short term, it may hurt us to do this, as it very easily could have blown up in our face against Clemson to give AD this shot. But in the long term, I think it will make us a stronger team. I think seeing some of the same type of mistakes made by others will also help in Rix's development. McPherson looked to have the same sort of problems that Rix has suffered and I think it will help with Rix's learning process to see what's happening occasionally from the sideline. Am I saying throw AD to the wolves against Miami in an effort to gain these positives? No. We have to pick and choose our spots to do this wisely. I think we did so against Clemson.
The lowlights for the passing game included:
-- Robert Morgan has to get past the marker on his route. On a 3rd and 7 play, Morgan caught the ball short of the marker to force us into a punting situation. This was mostly due to pressure allowed on Rix, moreso than the fault of Morgan, but we just have to make sure that we're going to move the chains on plays like this. This is a pet peeve of mine seeing teams throw short of the marker so frequently on third down situations.
-- Adrian McPherson overthrew a pass to Nick Maddox in triple coverage downfield. I love that play call, but it was a terrible read by McPherson in going through with the pass with so many defenders in the area. Nick drew a lot of attention on this one.
-- Robert Morgan dropped a deep slant pass on a 3rd and 2 play. This one was thrown high by Adrian McPherson and it would have been a tough catch, but it was catchable.
-- Anquan Boldin couldn't bring in a jump ball in the end zone. This one was a little bit overthrown by Adrian McPherson and Boldin actually did a good job preventing an interception.
-- Adrian McPherson badly overthrew Robert Morgan to kill a drive.
-- Chris Rix threw behind Torrance Washington in the flat.
-- Adrian McPherson with a bad throw on an out pattern to Robert Morgan. He's actually lucky it wasn't a better throw as this one might have been picked off.
-- Adrian McPherson with an incompletion on an out pattern to Anquan Boldin on a 3rd and 3 play to kill a drive with a bad three and out.
-- Anquan Boldin dropped a pass on an out pattern.
-- Chris Rix missed P.K. Sam on a post pattern in the end zone. The TD was there, but Rix led Sam just a little too much. I thought this was a score when the ball left Rix's hand as I was watching Sam the whole way and saw him break open.
-- Chris Rix with a bad read choosing to get rid of the ball by throwing it out of the end zone. He had Anquan Boldin WIDE OPEN underneath, and Talman Gardner was also open enough to be a better option than giving up on the play.
-- Chris Rix with a slant pass to Robert Morgan that was broken up in the end zone and thrown into triple coverage. I think this is an example of us going to the well once too often with the red zone slant passes. I think the slants are our best scoring option, but we can't rely solely on this. We need more passes to the TE over the middle in the red zone and Rix has to show a better ability at connecting on the fade to keep teams from sitting on the slants. Don't be shocked if Miami takes one of these back the distance like they did against Florida.
5. Our pass protection fell far short of what is needed yet again. Our run blocking has been mostly solid this year, but the pass protection is suffering. I think I've now completely given up on ever seeing FSU have a solid offensive line. The best we can hope for is pretty good. This line is clearly the best we've seen in awhile, simply because they are better than mediocre. We're giving up wayyyyyyyyy too many sacks this season for me to consider this a rock-solid line among the best in the country, no matter how much the national media wants to convince me otherwise in their praise for this unit. Even though some of our sacks yielded are more the fault of Chris Rix than the blocking, there are still more true pass protection breakdowns than we should have with a unit with as much experience as we have up front. Remember, in the pre-season, I set my expectation level for this unit as allowing less than 10 sacks all year. I think we've given that up in just the last three games. The problems with our pass protection included:
-- Ray Willis was beat on a stunt and Todd Williams was a little slow in picking up an OLB which forced Chris Rix to get rid of a 3rd and 7 pass sooner than he wanted to throw it, resulting in a completion to Robert Morgan short of the marker.
-- Chris Rix was sacked for -5 yards. He looked lost on this play. The problem here was not with our blocking as Rix had plenty of time. He took off to run (bad decision on this one) and looked slow. There was no pressure to speak of until he started to run. He had time to look for his receivers. Greg Jones was wide open in the flat as a dump off with nobody covering him. It's this sort of bad read that is the primary problem in Rix's game.
He's just not seeing the full field very well at all. This is the core problem that is leading to all the other things folks are critical of in his game (in our desire to see him be the best QB he can be). We can't and shouldn't want to reign in his running completely as he may be misinterpreting the criticism to mean. He just has to get smarter about when he does it. I do agree with those that are saying that his head is messed up now. But that's because he's just not grasping everything that is involved with looking Charlie-like. Having a period of regression while trying to change his approach to the game to something that will eventually be more successful than what we had last year shouldn't be surprising. I thought he'd pick it all up faster than he has, but that was going by him being ahead of the curve last year. It's a lot easier to say it than to do it though. He's got all the athletic ability to do it, he just has to get the mental part of it.
The best way for him to do that from where we are right now, IMO, is to completely forget about most everything he's hearing about on his run/pass decisions. Go back to going with his instincts. We need to scale back on the information we're trying to get him to grasp in the process. The only thing he should be mindful of in that area is continuing to show pass as he approaches the line even if he knows he is running. The rest he should just forget for now.
I think he just needs to put all his focus exclusively on his reads and getting them down more thoroughly and quickly. If the information his brain is getting improves (i.e.--better reads), his natural instincts with what to do with the ball will improve. He's been tucking and running because he's not seeing that open receiver. That's not changing even with him making a conscious effort to stay in the pocket longer. So getting him to hang in there without an improvement on his reads is simply taking away the running dimension of his game--a negative for us. He's still not seeing his outlet receivers or even making consistently good reads with his primary receivers. If his mind would see the entire field (and see it quickly), I think his natural instincts when not thinking too much are sound enough that we'd notice the improvement in decision making just from that, and he would no longer look tentative in what he's doing out there. The bad decisions being made are almost all a result of not seeing all his passing options quickly enough IMO so all efforts in coaching him right now should be on improving his reads. Get him to where he's sound in that area before trying to add more to the information we're trying to get him to grasp.
-- Chris Rix sacked for -1 yard: Ray Willis totally missed his block. Rix scrambled and looked very slow. He should have been able to easily avoid this sack based on things I've seen him do on scrambles in the past. Clemson only had a 3 man rush on this play and still got the sack. It's pathetic that Rix was forced to scramble here as we had at least five guys to block three and couldn't get it done.
-- Chris Rix sacked for -3 yards on a 3rd and 7 play to kill a drive. Brett Williams was beat to the outside to surrender the sack. Again Rix is not seeing his outlet receivers as Greg Jones was wide open.
6. As pivotal as our special teams play was in this victory, they were not without their share of really bad plays as well. It was definitely a wild night in the special teams department for both teams. The lowlights on special teams included:
-- 45 yard punt return allowed by Hamilton. Chance Gwaltney saved a TD after Kamerion Wimbley and Josh Charles took bad angles and A.J. Nicholson fell down to allow the long return.
-- FSU fell asleep and allowed an onside kick recovery as Tommy Bowden went into the bag of tricks. Joey Kaleikini's man made the recovery, but I would have to say they studied film on our coverage and saw a lot of room to the sideline to allow this to work. If so, it was a great job by the Clemson staff. We need to pinch our outermost guys in less to prevent this from happening again. There was no way for Kaleikini to get out far enough in time on a perfectly executed kick.
-- 40 yard kickoff return allowed by Hamilton immediately after Leon Washington's 97 yard kickoff return for a TD. A.J. Nicholson missed a tackle and #14 (not Matt Henshaw) took a bad angle to allow the return.
-- I'm not sure why Donnie Carter insists on taking returns away from our faster kick returners. I'm glad he wants to be sure in getting the ball and actually hasn't looked too bad returning it, but we have to have better communication to get our return men up for the catch on these pooch kicks. Carter is catching them while moving backward and our return men are right on his heels. He should let those go back to them in those situations and I think we'd get 10-15 more yards per return.
-- 41 yard kickoff return allowed by Hamilton at the end of the half.
7. An inaugural "Jane, You Ignorant Slut" Award goes to the morons in the FSU student section that saw fit to bring anti-Chris Rix signs to the game, boo our QB, and cheer wildly for Adrian McPherson's entry into the game even as Rix was still injured on the field. You people are the pinnacle of stupidity and you really should take that act down to Gainesville where it belongs. You displayed your utter and complete ignorance of the game when you booed Rix's decision to run on a CALLED QUARTERBACK DRAW play. You are a bunch of feebleminded dullards that really aren't worthy of discussion except for the negative impact you will have on our team and the university if your stupidity goes unchallenged. For the only time in my life, I felt embarrassed to be a Seminole fan as your need to cheer wildly for Adrian McPherson reached it's full crescendo and overshadowed the concern for an injured player of our's.
Let me expand on that thought here by saying that you are an embarrassment to all the real Nole fans that cheered wildly for Chris Rix on his return in an effort to counter your nonsense. You are an embarrassment to the atmosphere that needs to be created in our stadium. You are an embarrassment to Florida State University. And you are an embarrassment to yourselves. The ironic thing is you don't even know that, but be assured of the many thousands in the stands that do know it.
Also note that I'm saying this while not even being one that's strongly in the "Booing is Verboten" camp than many fans are in. I'm not adverse to a few boos if it's clear that the effort isn't there, or for majorly boneheaded play calls by our staff. But the venom spewed specifically at Chris Rix was *completely unwarranted*, and the desire to blame him for our recent decline in winning percentage shows nothing but complete ignorance of the many other factors involved. Have any of you once watched a single series of our play on defense before making Rix your scapegoat? Your anointing of Adrian McPherson as our savior from mediocrity also displays a profound lack of knowledge of what goes into becoming a quality quarterback at the major college level.
If our fan base is taken over by this sort of Crowd O' Doofuses, I may have to rethink my allegiance to the Seminole program as it was pathetically ignorant fans like this that made me initially hate the University of Florida. You know the ones, the fans that would jump down your throat for not being a Gator and laugh their butts off when they beat you, but couldn't name more than two players on the team. Thankfully I know that you were a minority tucked in your corner of the stadium and not a reflection of the entirety of the FSU fan base. Please do us all a favor and stick to Partying 101. The shining moment of the night in relation to your presence in the stadium was your silence as Adrian McPherson struggled with the offense as a player with his level of experience is going to do against a quality opponent. Your shock over his failure to throw for 5 TD's by halftime speaks volumes as to your lack of knowledge of the game you are watching. If I sound angry in scolding this section of our stadium here, DAMN RIGHT I'm angry!!! Your actions reflect on the entirety of our fan base to those that don't know any better. I don't want some kid in high school choosing to be a fan of another school simply because the Seminole fans are a bunch of jerks like I chose to hate the Gators because of the majority of their fan base. Nor do I wish to see a quality recruit choose to attend a school where the fans are more appreciative of the player's efforts, doing further harm to our program. With your embarrassing display in this game, you are moving towards the territory of the Gator fans whose mantra was "We may cheat but at least we win" during the 80's. We're supposed to be better people than that, at least that's what we like to claim. For the first time, I'm not so sure of that now thanks to all of you that chose to show your asses for all the world to see.
8. We committed 6 penalties for 45 yards. Given our history with penalties, this is actually a good job, but I think I'm going to decide that anything over 5 penalties will go in the negatives section, while 5 or under will put this in the positives section. Usually I've been under by one on counting our penalties this year as compared to the official stats, but this time my notes have us with one more penalty than the official stats indicate.
-- Offsides penalty on Travis Johnson and Kevin Emanuel to give up a first down.
-- Offsides penalty on our punt coverage team. I'm not sure who this was on.
-- Running into the punter penalty on Kyler Hall.
-- Kickoff goes out of bounds penalty on Xavier Beitia.
-- Unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Patrick Hughes. BS call.
-- Delay of game penalty on the offense.
-- Holding penalty on Robert Morgan negated a 12 yard run by Greg Jones. I'm not certain it was on Morgan, but he was the only guy on the yard line where the spot of the foul would indicate the penalty took place.
9. We allowed an 87 yard TD drive in 1:10 before halftime. This was very reminiscent of our breakdown before halftime in the Iowa State game.
10. Clemson was hosed to set up Greg Jones' excellent final TD run. The pass interference call that kept our drive alive was ticky-tack at best IMO. I put this in the negatives category because I hate to see bad calls either way. We've been hosed enough by ACC refs in the past to where I'm not terribly worried about this one though.
1. Our DL was probably the high point of a very low night for our defense. We were able to get some pressure on Willie Simmons and the DL made some solid plays. The effort was far from dominant, and probably only about average by FSU standards, but on this night, average was good enough to shine for our D.
-- Good pressure by Alonzo Jackson forced a scramble for 3 yards by QB Simmons.
-- Kevin Emanuel and Jerel Hudson with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Rambert.
-- Big pressure by Alonzo Jackson forced a dump off pass that was stopped for no gain by B.J. Ward.
-- Pressure by Kevin Emanuel forced Simmons to throw the ball sooner than he wanted to on a 4th and 5 play, allowing Rufus Brown to make the stop short of the marker.
-- Jeff Womble with a -2 yard TFL on a run by RB Kelly.
-- Kevin Emanuel with a -7 yard sack! Emanuel showed a nice spin move on this play and is quietly leading the team in TFLs.
-- Eric Moore with a -9 yard sack and a forced fumble on a 3rd and 6 play!
-- Eric Powell with an awesome -6 yard TFL on a reverse showing excellent strength dragging the guy down with one hand.
-- Pressure by Travis Johnson and Eric Powell forced a scramble that ended with a big play by Kendyll Pope described as the fourth play listed below.
2. Our LBs still aren't getting the job done in the big play department. Pope and Boulware are leading the team in tackles, so they are doing something right out there, but they just haven't shown themselves able to make the big game changing/impacting type plays very often this year. We're going to need many more major impact plays from these guys if we're going to beat Miami. The highlights for our linebackers in this game included:
-- Kendyll Pope with a good tackle on a QB scramble by Simmons to hold him to a 3 yard gain.
-- Michael Boulware with a -1 yard TFL on a run by RB Rembert.
-- Pressure by Michael Boulware and Kendyll Pope forced an incompletion.
-- Kendyll Pope with a vicious hit to force a fumble by QB Simmons on a third down play that was recovered by a Clemson lineman.
3. Among the boatload of huge plays allowed by our secondary, the DB's did manage to provide a few gems among the plays they impacted on the night. I actually think our corners had their best night of the season, but that performance was lost among the comedy of errors put on by our safeties. Here's the list of the highlights for our DB's:
-- B.J. Ward with an excellent stop for no gain on a swing pass on a 3rd and 8 play. This was a great three and out series by our defense to start the game.
-- Rufus Brown with a nice play holding a completion to WR McElvey to a 4 yard gain for a big stop on a 4th and 5 play.
-- Stanford Samuels with a nice interception on a pass deflection. In past years this was the sort of ball that we would drop to get someone a Hands of Stone Award, so I'm happy to see Samuels make the pick here.
-- Nice coverage by Stanford Samuels to cause an incompletion on a fade pattern to force a field goal.
-- Nice coverage by Bryant McFadden on an incomplete deep sideline pattern to force Clemson to punt.
-- Rufus Brown with a nice pass breakup to cause an incompletion on a deep pass to WR Hamilton.
-- Rufus Brown with an excellent over the shoulder interception on a bomb thrown by Clemson from deep in their own territory.
-- Anquan Boldin with one of our best run support plays from the secondary all season as he made a big hit to hold a very promising Adrian McPherson scramble to a 7 yard gain. Put him in at safety coach!
-- Nice open field tackle by Leroy Smith to stop QB Simmons on a scramble, holding him to a 6 yard gain on a 3rd and 16 play to force a punt.
-- Rufus Brown with a nice tackle to hold a WR screen play to McElvey to a 1 yard gain.
4. FSU's special teams dominated the game. Without the effort on special teams giving us two turnovers, a turnover on downs, and a touchdown, FSU likely would not have been able to win this game. In fact, we had so many notable plays on special teams that I have to make this a separate category of it's own for this game. The highlights on special teams included:
-- Josh Charles with a tackle on the Clemson punter for a -4 yard TFL on the first series of the game after a bobbled snap forced the punter to try to run.
-- 49 yard kickoff return by Talman Gardner. Gardner showed great speed to get outside and if he had any wiggle at all with his running, this would have been a touchdown as he only had the kicker to beat and couldn't get past him. Donnie Carter had an excellent block on this return.
-- Leon Washington exploded for an electrifying 97 yard TD on a kickoff return to allow FSU to retake the lead in a see-saw battle at that point. This was a really clutch, big-time play. Washington showed *serious* speed on the return as he ripped through the seam in coverage. I think he could help the team a lot in nickel coverage as a DB, moreso than he can help us as a 4th team running back right now. We need to find ways to get him on the field as much as possible though as this guy is going to be a big-time player. Game ball to Leon Washington for his special teams effort.
-- Chance Gwaltney with a 48 yard punt that was downed at the 1 yard line by Jared Hetzel. Excellent job.
-- Kamerion Wimbley with an excellent tackle on a kickoff return as he was being blocked.
-- Leon Washington forced a fumble on a punt return deep in Clemson territory that looked like it was recovered by Jared Hetzel, but I'm not sure on the recovery.
-- Malcolm Tatum with a nice hit to force a fumble on a kickoff recovered by Patrick Newton.
5. Greg Jones!!! Clemson's defense had no answer for the BEAST on this night. Game ball to Greg Jones for rumbling for 165 yards and 3 TD's on 22 carries and running like a Tazmanian Devil through and around the Clemson defense for most of the night in a truly devastating performance. Jones is our primary hope to spring an upset against Miami. If he is somehow able to run like this against the Miami defense, then suddenly FSU has a chance because we can play a ball control offense that will keep our defensive problems on the sidelines for as much of the game as possible. 49 total carries for 272 rushing yards are numbers I'll take any time. On our designed running plays we had 27 successful carries for 259 yards and 16 unsuccessful carries for 11 yards. That totals 43 carries for 270 yards, a 6.28 yards per carry average and a 62.8% success ratio on the ground.
-- Greg Jones with an 8 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, Torrance Washington with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis knocked his guy down, Montrae Holland pulled and got a pancake, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Torrance Washington with a 9 yard run: P.K. Sam with a block, Anquan Boldin with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block. I loved this play call. If we keep utilizing Washington in this way (i.e.--running as a genuine threat on any down and distance situation rather than just on 3rd and 1 dive plays) we're going to see much better results from our running game than in previous years and much better results than we would get from exclusively running our tailback. By getting it into the heads of opposing LBs that they cannot focus exclusively on our tailback in the ground game, we're going to gain at least a half-step of hesitation or indecision that may be just enough to really get things clicking in a way we haven't seen in a very long time on the ground. Once we establish Washington as a greater threat that gains the respect of the defense, then we can start working in plays with fakes to the fullback followed by outside pitches to the tailback and possibly even some of the reverses with the nifty faking/ball handling that Clemson ran on us after studying the Wake Forest and NC State attacks of last season. If we can get the LB's biting on the inside fakes, there are some very big plays to be had for our ground game. But first we have to establish our FB as a genuine running threat before that respect is earned. We're finally moving in the right direction in that area now, IMO.
-- Chris Rix with a 1 yard TD run on a QB sneak: Patrick Hughes with a pancake, Montrae Holland and Ray Willis with a double team pancake, Antoine Mirambeau with a pancake, Todd Williams with a pancake, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. The strong side of our line really cleaned up on this one.
-- Torrance Washington with a 3 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a late block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 5 yard run: Talman Gardner missed his block, Patrick Hughes manhandled a DB and was lucky he wasn't called for holding, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block before getting knocked down, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. Jones with a good job fighting for yards and good balance after getting hit by a LB.
-- Greg Jones with a 20 yard TD run on a 3rd and 2 toss sweep: Torrance Washington with an excellent block, Paul Irons didn't get a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis knocked his guy down, Montrae Holland with a pancake, Antoine Mirambeau missed his block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a great block, Alex Barron with a block. Greg Jones showed a serious burst of speed once he got to the sideline on this one. He is a breakaway threat if we can get a little bit better blocking overall (especially from the FB and also from the WR's on downfield blocks) and establish a secondary threat to run in our offense to keep D's a little more off balance.
-- Adrian McPherson with an 8 yard run on a QB draw: Nick Maddox with a decleater, P.K. Sam with a block, Ray Willis steered his man outside, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams knocked Mirambeau's guy down, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Torrance Washington with a 4 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, Alex Barron with a block, Todd Williams needed to get out to the LB faster, Antoine Mirambeau needed a better block, Montrae Holland needed a better block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Torrance Washington with a 14 yard run on a 3rd and 1 play: Talman Gardner with a block, Paul Irons with a pancake, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams and Alex Barron with a double team pancake. Nice running by Washington on this one.
-- Greg Jones with a phenomenal 64 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, Torrance Washington totally whiffed on his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau and Todd Williams with a double team block, Brett Williams with a block. Jones bounced the run to the outside and broke a tackle at the line, then he outran a DB to the corner with another *serious* burst of speed and a good cut, then he bounced off an attempt by a LB to knock him out of bounds, then blew by two other guys with angles on him, and finished the run off by rumbling for another 10 yards with guys on him. This was an unbelievable run, especially considering that we were just going to run out the clock before halftime. The BEAST decided we were not going back to the locker room without the lead and he would not be denied as he got us all the way to the 5 yard line on a play that started with 23 seconds left in the half, setting us up for a Chris Rix TD pass. Jones is the total package at running back and, if he continues to run like this, would likely be the Heisman frontrunner next year if he chooses to return for his senior year. His speed is greatly underestimated by those that consider him just a power back. Anyone that doesn't think he is fast needs to watch this play. There was some major speed on display here.
-- Greg Jones with a 3 yard run and 5 yard face mask penalty on Clemson: Torrance Washington with a block, Patrick Hughes and Montrae Holland with a double team block, Antoine Mirambeau was beat but got a late block (and his guy didn't get in on the play), Todd Williams pulled and needed a better block, Brett Williams with a block. Jones cut away from the design of the play into being tackled. I'm putting this as a successful run because he likely would have had more than 3 yards if not for the face mask penalty.
-- Greg Jones with a 6 yard run: Torrance Washington didn't get his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and needed a better block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Torrance Washington with a 7 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis missed his block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 1 yard TD run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Montrae Holland and Antoine Mirambeau with a double team pancake, Todd Williams and Brett Williams with a double team pancake, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 4 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a late block on Holland's man, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau missed his block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams knocked his guy down, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 7 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes missed on a decleater attempt, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland pulled and got a pancake, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Nick Maddox with an 11 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, B.J. Dean totally missed on a decleater attempt, Patrick Hughes with a light block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams didn't block anybody, Brett Williams with a block. This was a good looking, quick run by Maddox.
-- Nick Maddox with an 8 yard run: P.K. Sam with a decleater, Talman Gardner with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Nick Maddox with a 9 yard run: P.K. Sam with a block, B.J. Dean with a decleater, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland pulled and got a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block. Maddox really looked sharp in picking up 48 yards on 8 carries. He's providing an excellent change of pace and running style from Jones that is giving defenses problems when he gets in. I wish we could get him more involved in the offense, but there are only so many plays to go around.
-- Nick Maddox with a 4 yard run: Robert Morgan with a decleater, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau knocked his guy down, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a MANLY, MANLY, MANLY 21 yard TD run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block but he needed to turn his guy more to the outside, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams needed a better block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. Jones first broke four potential tackles at the line, then three more by the secondary wave of defense, then bulled through two more guys at the goalline. This run was absolutely unreal as he pretty much laid waste to the entire Clemson defense. I thought I had seen a lot of MANLY runs by Jones already in his career. I didn't. This TD run upped the ante of what constitutes a MANLY run. The others he's had were mere child's play compared to this effort as this one was as good as any run I've ever seen. If he keeps running through and over people like this he'll soon be moving into Earl Campbell territory. Now picking my jaw up from the ground. This guy is scary good. Just keep him away from the rain. ;-)
-- Nick Maddox with a 4 yard run: Robert Morgan needed a better block, B.J. Dean with a decleater, Patrick Hughes needed a better block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams was beat to the inside to kill the play, Brett Williams steered his man to the outside.
-- Greg Jones with an 11 yard run on a 3rd and 11 play to pick up a first down (EXCELLENT!): P.K. Sam with a block, B.J. Dean with a decleater, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland pulled and didn't get his block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 4 yard run: B.J. Dean whiffed on his block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland knocked his guy down, Antoine Mirambeau and Brett Williams with a double team block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block on Hughes' guy, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Greg Jones with a 10 yard run: Craphonso Thorpe with an excellent block knocking his guy down, B.J. Dean needed a better block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a drive block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons needed a better block.
-- Nick Maddox with a 9 yard run: Dominic Robinson with a block, B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a pancake, Ray Willis with two blocks, Montrae Holland with a block, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
-- Willie Reid with a 4 yard run: B.J. Dean needed a better block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Montrae Holland with two blocks, Antoine Mirambeau with a block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block on Hughes' man, Brett Williams had nobody to block, Paul Irons with a block.
6. With only eight completions on the night, the highlights reel for our passing game is uncharacteristically short.
-- Chris Rix with an 18 yard strike to Talman Gardner on a square in pattern for a 3rd and 12 conversion. Rix stayed in the pocket nicely on this play, took a shot, but made the needed play with an excellent pass to Gardner. This was the play where he got the wind knocked out of him.
-- Chris Rix with a nice 5 yard TD pass to Talman Gardner to give us the lead at halftime. It was very important for us to get into the end zone here in a similar situation to the end of the first half against Louisville (one timeout, time for two plays) and this time we succeeded.
-- Anquan Boldin with a nice 12 yard catch on an out pattern.
-- Craphonso Thorpe with a beautiful 18 yard catch on a slant pattern. This was an excellent play.
-- Anquan Boldin with a 20 yard catch on a deep slant pattern.
-- Patrick Hughes with a 12 yard catch (hey the TE is involved in the offense), but it is coldly negated by a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Hughes for motioning in joy that he got a first down on the rare catch. I hope Jeff Bowden noticed how open Hughes was on this play.
-- Anquan Boldin with an excellent 24 yard catch and run for a 3rd and 15 conversion. He made three guys miss in the open field to get to the 6 yard line. Clutch play by Boldin, but we couldn't cash in for the TD.
8. We scored on a 3 play, 17 second drive to retake the lead before halftime. Nice answer to Clemson's quick score just prior to this. This was a very important swing of momentum for us to get the lead back and we have Greg Jones to thank with his incredible run to set up the TD.
9. Xavier Beitia was 2 for 2 on chip shot field goals, hitting from 21 and 22 yards out. Remember the gimme field goals and extra points have been the only weakness in his game so far, so this is good that he made both of these.
10. FSU was able to hold the ball for the final 4:48 of the game with 10 straight running plays. That's how to finish a game guys!
11. For the first time all season, we finally saw a solid defensive effort in the second half as we held the Tigers to just 7 points and about 100 yards of total offense. Hopefully that will give us something to build on as we head into the Miami game.
Now we have to be ready to take our game up several notches if we are to have any hope against the #1 Miami Hurricanes. I think it's going to take a career effort by Greg Jones, mistake-free play by Chris Rix, smart clock management, and a decided advantage in the turnover ratio and special teams play for our team to be able to overcome the amount of points I fear our defense is going to surrender to the Canes. It's either that or an excellent defensive effort unexpectedly coming out of nowhere or I fear the Canes could blow us out of the stadium.
The good news is that a surprise victory over the Miami Hurricanes would likely completely negate the Louisville loss for us in the national picture. With the 12 game season this year and so many more marquee out of conference matchups than in a usual year, the possibility of climbing the ladder with one loss is much more likely than in normal years if this Seminoles team can find a way to rectify our current problems and put it all together in the next two games for what would be two of the greatest victories in the history of our program. It is extremely doubtful that there are going to be two undefeated teams this year, so we can definitely get ourselves right back in the hunt by taking down the current king of the mountain on Saturday. In fact, even with a close loss to Miami, I don't think the Seminoles will be *totally* out of the picture if we can run the table impressively the rest of the way because if there is a year that a two loss team can make it to the title game, this would be the year. We'll just have to see how much fight there is in our current bunch of players.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Offense: Greg Jones
Defense: Nobody stood out so I'll leave this award vacant this week
Special Teams: Leon Washington