Nov. 14, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — By now, you’ve certainly seen the play. If you didn’t witness it in person or live on television, Nigel Bradham’s crushing blow to Miami’s LaRon Byrd that resulted in a personal foul penalty and consequent ejection has been making the rounds on the Internet ever since Saturday night.
Whether or not the play should have been called the way it did has been a hot topic and one that will continuously be up for debate. But what has been lost in all of the conversation was the terrific play that defensive tackle Everett Dawkins made after Bradham made contact.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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“The disappointing thing is that we had an interception on the play that would have ended the ballgame,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday at his weekly press conference.
Dawkins’ takeaway was acknowledged by the referees but ultimately taken away because of the penalty. If not for the call, Dawkins’ heads-up play would have sealed the game and prevented what would soon thereafter be a Miami touchdown that cut FSU’s lead to just one score.
Fisher said Monday that Bradham will not be suspended for this weekend’s game against Virginia despite the ejection and that he would like to see plays like that one be eligible for the booth-reviewal process.
“You need to review it,” Fisher said. “They review everything else. Review it then. Let’s get it right. If you are going to do it let’s get them all right. If you are going to stop them from other things stop them from all of them because those are game-changers plus you lose a good player.”
Of course without that situation, freshman Nick O’Leary wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make perhaps the most memorable play of his young career.
After scoring a touchdown following Bradham’s hit and missing the extra-point attempt, the Hurricanes needed the ball back and lined up in onside-kick formation. The kick was well placed and in perfect position for a player from either team to snag it and potentially set up a winning Miami drive or seal the game for FSU.
Luckily for the ‘Noles, O’Leary’s leaping grab and secure hold of the football proved to offer the latter. He emerged from the scrum to the delight of the crowd and his head coach.
“It was as big a play as in the game,” Fisher said. “Tremendous. Tremendous to go up and catch it with the finger tips and pull it in, get it in. Like I say, you don’t know what your role is on the team for each individual game but what my contribution can be. His contribution was as big as anybody’s on the field making that play.”
During Fisher and quarterback EJ Manuel’s press conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced its weekly top players and senior punter Shawn Powell was named the Specialist of the Week.
Powell had arguably the best game of any student-athlete in that FSU-Miami showdown and that’s a testament to his output considering he only made a few appearances. FSU’s talented punter helped the Seminoles win the field-position battle with five punts for 274 yards for an average of 54.8 yards per kick.
As the ACC’s leader in punt average at 47.1 per attempt, Powell would also lead the entire nation if he had two more punts to meet the requirement of 3.6 per game.
“I wouldn’t trade him for anybody; I know that,” Fisher said. “Whether it’s putting it inside the 10, whether it’s kicking it out of the endzone, whether it’s kicking it with hang time, whether it’s kicking it right [or] kicking it left, I mean the guy has been phenomenal.”
For his effort against the ‘Canes, Powell was named the National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
MANUEL TALKS HOME-STATE CAVS
One of the story lines this week will be Manuel’s matchup against the Cavaliers from his home-state of Virginia.
The Seminoles played at UVa last year but Manuel — a native of Virginia Beach, Va. — was a reserve in that game behind former starter Christian Ponder, who coincidentally plays tonight as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in their game against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
Saturday will provide Manuel the first opportunity to play against Virginia and will be the second time he has played against the two big in-state programs in his career after playing in last year’s ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech.
As one of the nation’s most highly sought-after recruits in the 2008 class, Manuel had his choice of collegiate destinations. On Monday, he was asked why he didn’t choose a program that is three hours or so from his home.
“They offered me I want to say late in my 10th grade year or early in my 11th grade year,” Manuel said. “Coach [Al] Groh was the head coach at the time and I definitely had interest at UVa. But I had so many offers that there was a lot of other programs that I liked and things like that so it was nothing against that program. It’s an awesome school [and] you can get a great education from there but at the time the football program wasn’t as great as they are now.”