FSU Archives - Page 7 of 25 - SaintPetersBlog

Loss to North Carolina helped spur FSU’s recent success

Can losing really teach a team more lessons than losing?

Can defeat point the proper way to play?

Maybe. Just as the FSU Seminoles, although they wouldn’t have said it at the time. It was 2010, Jimbo Fisher’s first season, and the Seminoles dropped a 37-35 shootout to the Tar Heels in Tallahassee.

Most the time that the two schools have played football, FSU has had its way. It has a 15-2 all time lead.

But not in 2010.

FSU lost its second straight game (losing to North Carolina State the week before) as T.J. Yates threw for 439 yards and three scores. Dwight Jones caught eight passes for 233 yards, including a 31-yarder to set up a winning field by Casey Barth with 55 seconds left.

The Seminoles had taken a 35-34 lead on Lonnie Pryor’s touchdown run.

FSU grew from that game, losing only the ACC title game that year. It lost four games in 2011, but it has lost only seven games since then.

Saturday will be the first time the two have played each other since.

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Seminoles favored in Saturday matchup with North Carolina

North Carolina (3-1, 1-0 ACC) at No. 12 Florida State (3-1, 0-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Florida State by 11.

Series Record: Florida State leads 15-2-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Both teams look to keep pace in their respective divisions as they face each other for the first time since 2010 (UNC won 37-35). The Tar Heels are tied with Virginia Tech atop the Coastal Division while the Seminoles, who dropped their conference opener to Louisville on Sept. 17, need a couple things to fall their way in the Atlantic Division.

KEY MATCHUP

North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer vs. Florida State CB Tarvarus McFadden. Switzer tied a school and conference record last week against Pittsburgh with 16 receptions. The 5-foot-10, 185 pound senior is second in the ACC in catches (36) and third in yards (376). McFadden, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound sophomore, leads the conference with three interceptions but also has had lapses where he has given up big plays.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Carolina: QB Mitch Trubisky. The junior tied a school record with five touchdown passes last week and has thrown for 885 yards the past two games. He is also second in the nation in completion percentage (74.5 percent).

Florida State: RB Dalvin Cook. The junior set a career-high with rushing yards last week against South Florida with 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is averaging 159.8 yards in the Seminoles’ past eight home games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Florida State has the nation’s longest current home winning streak at 22 games. … North Carolina has a three-game losing streak against ranked teams. … The Tar Heels also have a nine-game winning streak in conference games. … The Seminoles are tied for 11th in the nation in forcing three-and-outs with 21. … North Carolina’s defense was on the field for 41:09 last week. Florida State has held the ball for 40 minutes or more twice in its four games.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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FSU’s Dalvin Cook runs to weekly Sunshine State award

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was here all the time.

That was his back, and those were his heels.

Cook finally had the breakout game FSU fans have been waiting for against USF Saturday, rushing for 267 yards. He went for 75 on the first play of the day.

For his efforts, Cook has been named the Sunshine State Player of the Week, a weekly award given by the SaintPetersBlog.

Cook entered the game with critics wondering what was wrong with him. Had he gained too much weight? Was he favoring his surgically repaired shoulder? Was it his offensive line? He had only 228 yards in three games.

This week, he was back.

Others considered for the weekly award include:

— South Florida’s Quinton Flowers, who ran for 159 yards,

— Florida’s Antonio Callaway, who caught four passes for 134 yards,

— Florida Atlantic’s Jason Driskel, who threw for 324 yards,

— Florida Atlantic’s Kalib Woods, who caught four passes for 104 yards, and

— Florida’s Austin Appleby, who had 296 yards passing and three touchdowns.

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Frankly, Jimbo Fisher already has a better job than LSU

Jimbo Fisher, still of FSU, isn’t talking.

And what does that say?

The LSU football job had been open, oh, about nine seconds before Fisher’s name was mentioned again. If you remember, LSU reportedly had “ongoing” negotiations with Fisher (Fisher denies it) when the school was considering canning Les Miles after last season before Miles saved his job.

This time, both Houston’s Tom Herman, one of the hottest commodities out there, and Fisher were quickly mentioned.

“I ain’t talking about that,” Fisher said. Herman, too, has denied contact. So has Louisville’s Bobby Petrino and Stanford’s David Shaw.

Well, the rest of us can. LSU would undoubtedly pay Fisher a lot more money — otherwise, why flirt with him? — and a five-year contract.

But don’t you think FSU would pony up to keep Fisher? And don’t you think they would give him a new contract?

So which is the better job?

FSU, without a doubt, has less pressure. The Seminoles were drubbed two weeks ago, and no one mentioned Fisher’s job security. He has a young team, and he has excellent facilities.

LSU has the crazy Saturday night atmosphere, and it’s recruited well over the years. But the SEC West is a battlefield. It would take some doing to dislodge Alabama as the team to beat. There is less in-state competition for athletes than here in Florida, but there probably are fewer athletes.

So why change? Does Fisher want new scenery out of his window? Does he want to be wanted? Or is he content with the fiefdom he’s built? Bottom line: There is nothing that a coach can win at LSU that he can’t win at FSU.

Look, FSU has become one of the top handful of jobs a coach would leap for: Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan are others. Florida, USC, and Oklahoma. Clemson, Notre Dame, and maybe Texas. Everything else is a negotiation.

Because of that, I don’t see Fisher leaving. I can see him listening, and flirting, but I don’t think LSU is such a magical program it can snap its fingers and get the coach it wants. Put it this way: If you were another football coach, and you could have either the FSU or LSU job for the same money, which would you take?

I’d take FSU.

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Playing defense a challenge for both Florida and FSU so far

All of the sudden, Florida and FSU’s football teams are concerneda about their defenses.

Really.

How has this happened? Only a week ago, Florida was the No. 1 defense in America. But after the Gators gave up 38 straight points to Tennessee, the Gators have fallen to fourth. Statistically, it still isn’t bad, but considering the way that Joshua Dobbs and the Volts went through the Gators in the second half, it’s troubling.

Through three games, Florida had allowed only 389 yards a game. But Tennessee piled up 498 yards. It is reason to at least reassess to Gators and question how much of their success was due to an easy schedule. Certainly, coach Jim McElwain has to wonder.

Then there are the Seminoles, who have given up 98 points (and 13 touchdowns) the last two weeks. Considering that FSU’s defense was supposed to be a strenth on the team, that’s far too lenient. Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher was unhappy after a 55-35 win over USF, saying his team “quit doing their jobs” in the game.

FSU’s defense is ranked 86th in the country.

Both teams have conference games this week. FSU plays a North Carolina team that can move the ball, while Florida plays Vanderbilt.

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The predictions: FSU to beat USF; Vols picked over Gators

USF is the undefeated one. USF is the high-scoring one. USF is the one at home.

But, really, does USF have a shot to beat No. 13 FSU?

Oh, the Bulls have some talent, and as such, they have a puncher’s chance. But FSU has most of the highly-ranked recruits, and they have Dalvin Cook, and they’re in a fairly nasty mood after last week’s drubbing by Louisville.

Odds are, it will be much like last year’s game. It will probably be close for a while, and then the Seminoles — and Cook — will run away with the game.

Let’s be honest. FSU has played a much tougher schedule with two of its three opponents ranked in the top 20. FSU has the higher-regarded recruits. FSU has a longer, richer history.

Still, USF has a chance if it can start fast with Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams. Something good needs to happen early to convince the Bulls they have a chance.

Prediction: FSU 35, USF 21.

Florida at Tennessee

If Tennessee is ever going to beat Florida, this should be the year.

The Vols are home, and they’re higher ranked, and they have a more experienced quarterback. Granted, Florida has the better defense, but can that defense hold up all afternoon. Especially if Florida’s own offense is slowed by new quarterback Austin Appleby. Florida’s offense has sputtered enough in its first three games.

Look for the Gators to try to win this with defense, field position and the occasional shot by Appleby.

This year, it shouldn’t be enough.

Prediction: Tennessee 17, Florida 14.

UCF at FIU

Give FIU a little credit for ambition. For achievement, not so much.

The Panthers are off to a 0-2 start and now face an improved UCF team. It will be interesting to see how much freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton can account for through the air.

Of course, UCF has been fairly ambitious itself with losses to Michigan and Maryland the last two weeks.

This time, UCF should be the more talented team.

Prediction: UCF 26, FIU 10

Ball State at Florida Atlantic

FAU is coming off the worst loss in the program’s history, a 63-7 bashing by Kansas State. Ball State shouldn’t be as good, but the Owls are beaten up across their offensive line.

Prediction: Ball State 17, FAU 10.

The NFL

Browns at Dolphins

Miami is off to a slow start, but Cleveland hasn’t started yet. With Ryan Tannehill and Ndamukong Suh, Miami should win this one easily at home.

Prediction: Miami 27, Cleveland 7

Ravens at Jaguars

The Jags are a much better team than they’ve played so far. Sadly, Baltimore might just be too much to handle. If Jacksonville can get receiver Alan Robinson untracked, it would help.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Jacksonville 17

Rams at Bucs

The Bucs open their home schedule, which should add a bit of energy. However, Tampa Bay is missing Doug Martin, and Vincent Jackson hasn’t played well. That leaves Mike Evans on his way to a big day.

Tampa Bay 20, Los Angeles 17

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Florida State LB Matthew Thomas starting to live up to potential

No one on Florida State’s roster knows more about bouncing back after getting knocked down more than Matthew Thomas.

For the first time in four years, the junior linebacker is living up to the potential many saw when he was recruited in 2013. Thomas leads the 13th-ranked Seminoles in tackles going into Saturday’s game at South Florida.

Florida State (2-1) is trying to bounce back after a 43-point loss last Saturday at Louisville. Considering that during the past three-plus seasons Thomas has dealt with shoulder injuries, the death of a parent and being academically ineligible, the blowout win by the Cardinals is just a small roadblock.

Last year at this time Thomas was on the sidelines watching his teammates and wondering if he would ever play football or even remain at Florida State.

“I know I put myself in a lot of bad situations, bad predicaments. I dug myself in a hole, so I just had to get myself out of them” he said. “I may take some hits, but I get back up.”

Coach Jimbo Fisher said earlier this week that Thomas finally started maturing and understanding the importance of trying to revive his career.

“He’s really turned into a really good player for us, but more importantly becoming a very good leader,” Fisher added.

Thomas credits running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end DeMarcus Walker for their emotional support last year. Cook and Thomas are both Miami natives while Walker first met Thomas at a high school all-star game in 2013.

Besides dealing with injuries and academics, Thomas was also struggling with the loss of his mother, Mariska Nyon, in January of 2015. As a five-star prospect at Booker T. Washington, Thomas wanted to attend Southern Cal but it was his mom who wanted him to go to Florida State.

Thomas’ oldest brother has moved up to Tallahassee and has also provided emotional support.

Thomas also said he owes Fisher a lot for standing by him and keeping his word to his mother that Fisher would support him.

Besides maturity, another thing players and coaches have noticed is that Thomas is having more fun. He is the first to acknowledge that the game wasn’t fun due to the repeated shoulder injuries. Thomas had shoulder surgery last spring and this is the one the healthiest stretches he has had at FSU.

When asked how he would assess the first three games, Thomas said he still feels as if he is rusty. He remains a physical tackler that some have compared to former FSU standout Telvin Smith, who is in his third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Thomas has 20 tackles, including two for loss. He is one of the quickest players on the defense but has been tentative at times by thinking too much on the field. Thomas and the Seminoles defense has struggled against option teams and face another test on Saturday against South Florida’s high-scoring offense.

The 3-0 Bulls have rushed for over 200 yards in eight straight games and have scored 45 points or more in their last three.

“I still feel like I’m getting right a little bit with different situations and different atmospheres,” he said. “I don’t want to mess up. I just want to make my teammates proud, make my couches proud. So I’ve been trying stay on point.”

Right now, Thomas’ teammates are just happy that he is on the field and making plays.

“As time went by he saw the door closing. At the last minute, he grabbed it and opened it,” Walker said. “I’m glad he’s my teammate and he’s bought in.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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A win over FSU would rank as USF’s biggest day ever

Back in its run as king-slayers, the USF football team had quite a few moments to savor.

They beat Auburn, and it was wonderful.

They beat Miami, and it was terrific.

They beat Notre Dame, and it was sublime.

They beat Louisville and West Virginia and Kansas and North Carolina. Back in the day, it was hardly a surprise if USF beat anyone on its schedule.

But this would be the best one. Above all others, this would be the keeper.

After all, the last time that USF beat FSU, it may have been the final nail in the coffin of Bobby Bowden’s career. USF, with a freshman quarterback, in Tallahassee, pulled off what some consider to be the Bulls’ finest moment.

But this time, with a 3-0 record of its own, flirting with a top 25 ranking, would be the Bulls best-ever.

After all, it was just a year ago that FSU looked like the proverbial big-brother program. Dalvin Cook rushed for 266 yards, and the Seminoles won going away.

But FSU is coming off a humbling loss to Louisville (by 43), and USF is coming off a come-from-behind win over Syracuse (45-20). Still, the Seminoles are favored by 5 ½ points.

How does USF pull off the upset? It does so if Quinton Flowers is sharp; if Marlon Mack can find holes; if Rodney Adams can find space in the FSU secondary. If does so if the Bulls can keep Cook from having his breakout game, if the line can keep Demarcus Walker at bay, if Deondre Francois doesn’t find room in the secondary.

In other words, a lot of things have to go right for USF. And wrong for FSU.

Isn’t that why they call it an upset?

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FSU focuses on problems ahead vs USF

The last time Florida State lost a game by 30-plus points, it had an entire offseason to get over it. The Seminoles don’t have that luxury this time.

Just about 48 hours after the 63-20 beating at Louisville , coach Jimbo Fisher was trying to move past being shell shock and address the glaring problems as his 13th-ranked Seminoles prepare for Saturday’s game at South Florida.

“Ranting and raving and yelling isn’t going to do anything right now,” Fisher said, adding that of course he’s mad and upset. “At the same time, it happened. … Now you have to fix it, figure out how to do it, you have to go back to work.”

After winning 35 of 36 games from 2012 until midway through last season, including a national championship in 2013, the Seminoles are 6-4 in their last 10. The lone loss during that 2012-15 run was a 59-20 thumping against Oregon in the 2015 Rose Bowl, which until Saturday was the largest defeat of the Fisher era.

Fisher is trying to make sure this loss doesn’t completely derail a season where most expected the Seminoles to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“You’re going to find out what defines us,” he said. “When you have success, you grind, you do the little things, which I thought we had done, but not well enough.”

Florida State (2-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hasn’t dropped two straight games since Fisher’s second season in 2011. That year the Seminoles won their first two games and were ranked fifth before dropping their next three and falling out of the Top 25.

If the Seminoles are going to get back on track, they need to immediately address issues on the offensive line and pass defense.

The offensive line, which returned most of its starters from last season, has struggled in both run blocking and pass protection. Dalvin Cook hasn’t had many open creases to run through and has yet to post a 100-yard game.

Fisher said he didn’t envision the line struggling quite as much, especially missing some cut blocks in the run game.

Deondre Francois was sacked five times against Louisville and has taken his share of hard hits the first three games. Sometimes it has been protection issues while others can be attributed to the redshirt freshman holding on the ball too long.

The 11 sacks allowed are the most in the ACC and tied for eighth most among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

“We’ve tried two or three things. We slid some protection (on Saturday) and got beaten out a couple times,” Fisher said. “That’s why you try to see us try to throw early downs and things like that, when it’s not big blitz downs.”

Communication problems in the secondary have led to the Seminoles allowing 14 completions of 20-plus yards, including three in the first half against Louisville. Part of it can be attributed to youth where three starters — cornerback Tarvarus McFadden along with safeties A.J. Westbrook and Marcus Lewis — are sophomores.

The next three games pose their own set of challenges.

The Bulls are 3-0 for the first time in five years after last Saturday’s 45-20 win at Syracuse and are the lone unbeaten team in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division. The Seminoles then host North Carolina on Oct. 1 followed by a trip to No. 15 Miami on Oct. 8.

Since last season‘s 34-14 loss in Tallahassee, South Florida has won 10 of its past 12. The Bulls also run an option game that has given the Seminoles problems this season.

South Florida is seventh in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 49.7 points per game.

“I think it will be big, just from respect and getting national attention. That’s something we as a program said we wanted to do, we want to earn respect,” South Florida coach Willie Taggart said during Monday’s AAC teleconference. “We don’t want anyone to give it to us. We want to earn it and it’s an opportunity for us to go out and do that.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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FSU insists nothing is wrong with running back Dalvin Cook

Everyone expected the running back to be one of the best in the nation. Everyone expected to see nothing of Dalvin Cook but heels and elbows.

So far, the FSU running back has been ordinary.

It is one of the staggering sights of the young college football season. A year ago, Cook was sensational. This year, he has not been.

Through three games, Cook has only 288 yards rushing, and he’s scored only twice. Compare his average of 4.6 to the 7.4 of a year ago, and the difference is amazing. It has led to speculation that Cook could be hurt.

“Everybody says it, but Dalvin is fine,” said coach Jimbo Fisher. “There’s nothing wrong with Dalvin.”

So far, however, Cook has yet to show the burst he had a year ago, leading some to wonder if he has put on weight, is favoring his surgically repaired shoulder, or is cautious because of his offensive line. Last year, Cook had 1,691 yards rushing and received seven first-place votes for the Heisman. He scored 19 times.

Cook has a chance to get back on track Saturday against USF. Last year, he rushed for 266 yards against the Bulls. USF is only 82nd nationally against the run.

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