Sept. 28, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Breakdowns in execution and a single-game, school-record four lost fumbles contributed to Florida State’s stunning 17-7 loss to USF. Those mistakes and the ongoing search for consistent effort has the Seminoles’ coaching staff exploring solutions as the team prepares for Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference road-opener at Boston College.
That was the focus as the Seminoles took the practice field Monday night.
“If they’re the kind of competitor you think they are, they’ll respond to it,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said, following Monday’s workout. “You look at our play against BYU and then South Florida (we) looked like that. They (USF) had all that enthusiasm. They ran good, they hit good and everything.”
The Seminoles (2-2, 0-1 ACC) paid dearly for lapses that led to four huge, first half plays by USF. Two pass coverage breakdowns led to 77 and 73-yard pass plays; the second of which put the visiting Bulls up 14-0. USF quarterback B.J. Daniels also broke tackles on runs of 44 and 29 yards. Those four plays accounted for 223 of the Bulls’ 273 first half yards. FSU limited its visitors to 95 yards and a field goal in the second half.
“That just makes you pull your hair out,” said FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. “We’ve either got to get it corrected or play different people. … We’ve just got to do a better job, because we can’t overcome (the big plays).”
Those big plays spoiled an otherwise solid effort on defense, which forced a season-high seven punts, came up with two interceptions and stopped the Bulls on 11 of 14 third-down plays.
Andrews hopes to get a lift from the return of ailing defensive linemen Moses McCray and Justin Mincey, but he’s also prepared to give a longer look at freshman rover Jajuan Harley and his cornerback classmate Greg Reid, in an attempt to shore of the secondary.
“We’re not measuring up to our full capabilities,” said Andrews.
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher wasn’t any less disappointed with his unit, which repeatedly suffered self-inflicted mistakes with missed assignments, penalties and turnovers. Those errors prevented the unit from building on what Fisher thought was a corner-turning, 54-28 win at No. 7 BYU a week earlier.
Fisher attributed the mistakes to “fundamental issues that go directly to the eight inches between your ears.”
“Greatness is consistency over a long period of time,” said Fisher. “We’ve got to forget the past. This isn’t Florida State of the ’90s. … We have to create our own mystique. Make your own history, because we can do that.”
Boston College (3-0, 0-1 ACC) stands as a formidable road-block for the Seminoles, on both side of the football.
“They’re a team who gives you nothing,” Fisher added, echoing Andrews. “They’re really going to make you execute.”
Quarterback Christian Ponder, who drew praise for his play in defeat, admitted he was, “a little angry and definitely disappointed” following the USF game. Yet Ponder quickly pointed out that all of the Seminoles’ primary goals are still in play – winning the Atlantic Division and the ACC championship game and earning an Orange Bowl berth.
“It definitely can be done,” Ponder said.
Sophomore tailback Jermaine Thomas, who has played a limited role through the first four games, said he and his teammates have the correct temperament to turn the corner.
“We’re ready to go out there and get us some more wins,” Thomas said. “We still have goals. Maybe it’s not a national championship, but we still have other things that we’re pushing for. We just want to keep the energy and the high-aced level we have out here in practice and move on like we always do. We have to put this (USF) game behind us and focus on the next game and that’ what the team is trying to do.”
Freshman cornerback Greg Reid collected his second consecutive ACC Player of the Week honor on Monday, earning top specialist honors after piling up 129 combined return yards, highlight by his 63-yard punt return which set up FSU’s lone touchdown. Reid won Defensive Back of the Week honors following the win over BYU. … ESPN’s Game Day will originate its show on Saturday from Boston College, where one of the primary stories is BC linebacker Mark Herzlich’s battle with cancer. Herzlich, the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is sitting out this season will undergoing treatment. … Saturday’s game will be regionally televised by ABC. … The ACC announced Monday that the Oct. 10 home game against Georgia Tech will kick off at 8 p.m., though it will not be determined until at least Sunday whether it will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.