Insider FSU Fifth Quarter: Murray State
FSU Fifth Quarter is a weekly column recapping the week that was in Florida State football. Offense, defense, and special teams are broken down, and highly-coveted tomahawk helmet stickers are awarded based on performance. Nothing comes easy around here, and like Coach Fisher says, “You gotta earn it.” The name of the column, “Fifth Quarter,” pays tribute to one of the greatest Seminole victories of all-time.
“In the 1994 installment of their annual rivalry, the Florida Gators blew a 28-point fourth quarter lead, resulting in a 31-31 tie affectionately known by Seminole fans as “The Choke at Doak.” The selection committee for the Sugar Bowl knew fans wanted a rematch to determine a winner. Prior to kickoff, scoreboards in the Superdome read FSU 31, Florida 31 entering the fifth quarter, and thus the “Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter” was born.” The Seminoles won 23–17.
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“Murray State has a good chance to beat FSU this weekend,” said no one ever. As expected, the Noles rolled over the Murray State Racers to the tune of 69-3 in front of a nearly full Doak Campbell stadium on Saturday. (Cut the fans some slack, the heat index was over 100 degrees and Murray State isn’t exactly a ticket mover) I thought the Noles looked as good as they possibly could for a season opener against an FCS (1-AA) opponent. The defense dominated, the offense had a great tempo, and special teams was well, special. Here we go.
The young offensive line was impressive as they paved the way for 285 rushing yards and seven touchdowns against the Racers on Saturday. It was a great start against an inferior opponent that should help the group gain some confidence and momentum heading into this Saturday’s clash against Savannah State and beyond.
Seminole sophomore and former Tampa Plant High star James Wilder Jr. led the way with a career high 106 yards and two TDs in the win. “I went through a lot this summer,” Wilder said, referencing his off-season legal troubles. “I just wanted to make sure to come out and start the season off with a bang.” Wilder continued, praising the offensive line that helped him earn the game ball. “I could definitely see the difference and the improvement that we have. They’re bigger and faster, so with them, they open more holes so we can be more patient.”
Fullbacks Lonnie Pryor (3 TDs) and Debrale Smiley (2 TDs) rounded out the scoring on the ground.
QB EJ Manuel also had a solid day for the Seminole offense. The senior signal caller was 16-22 passing with 188 yards and a TD pass to junior receiver Kenny Shaw. The receiver had a some drops on routine catches, one of which (by Kenny Shaw) was bobbled and turned into an interception. I’ll chalk this up to season opening jitters but will be looking for improvement heading into week 2.
Overall Rating: 5 Tomahawks
The defense was as good as advertised, regardless if it was against Murray State. The Seminole D allowed just 156 total yards, 39 rushing yards, and forced four turnovers. While it was clearly a mismatch from the start, the Noles played a very disciplined style of defensive football, holding the Racers to only a field goal that came in the second quarter.
Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner had a career day, racking up five tackles for loss and four sacks. Coach Jimbo Fisher had nothing but high praise for Werner during his post-game press conference. “All that guy does when he gets between the white lines and the scoreboard comes on is play the game,” Fisher said. “He can rush and stop and bat balls and run. He’s just instinctive. He’s a heck of a football player.”
Redshirt junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes added an interception, and sophomore safety Lamarcus Joyner tallied five tackles for the Seminole defense.
This defense is one of the best in the country, even after losing starting senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins during the game to a foot injury. Jenkins has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2012 season, and while it will impact the defensive line, the mentality in Tallahassee in “next man up.”
Overall Rating: Defense gets 5 Tomahawks this week, no question.
After Murray State went three-and-out on their first possession, I had a feeling Rashad Greene was going to take the punt to the house.
That’s exactly what he did.
Greene’s first punt return of the 2012 season was a beauty, as he took it in from 47 yards out for the first score of the game. Greene was named the starting punt returner after All-American Greg Reid was dismissed from the team this past summer. Greene did bobble a punt later in the game that was recovered by Murray State, but all-in-all I think it’s safe to say that Rashad is going to be just fine back there for the Noles.
Senior kicker Dustin Hopkins added two field goals and extended his successful PAT streak to 139 in a row.
Overall Rating: 4.5 Tomahawks. Half-point off for Rashad’s punt-bobbling fumble fiasco. I run a tight ship here.
Next Up on Friday 9/7: Plant The Spear: Savannah State
Insider FSU Fifth Quarter: Murray State by David Botello