Nov. 7, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It’s officially FSU-Miami week on Florida State’s campus and head coach Jimbo Fisher kicked off what will be a fun five-day build-up for Saturday’s in-state clash at Doak Campbell Stadium the same way that he starts every week: with his Monday press conference.
Fisher commented several times on Miami’s season thus far and the challenge that the Hurricanes present. But Fisher — and quarterback EJ Manuel, who also addresses the media on Mondays — also spoke at length about the Seminoles and what has contributed to the team’s current four-game winning streak.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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In the win over Boston College last Thursday, true freshman Austin Barron had his hand in on the victory for the first time in his career. Barron started at center as an injury replacement for Bryan Stork, who was out after experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
“I thought he played extremely well,” Fisher said about Barron. “All calls were right, didn’t miss a mike call. A couple blocks were close; made a mistake here and there but for the most part played a very good football game.”
“He didn’t play like a freshman,” Manuel added. “I think he did a very good job stepping in for Stork.”
Barron was just one of four freshmen that started on offense against the Eagles and it could have been a total of five.
Rookie wide receiver Rashad Greene was expected to make his return to the lineup after an ankle injury has kept him sidelined since the start of the winning streak. But Greene never played in Chestnut Hill, Mass. and Fisher said Monday that there is still no definitive word on the speedster’s status.
“He seems to be getting a little better each week, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Fisher said.
Greene’s return would be a huge boost for an FSU team that has utilized the services of a lot of freshmen this season.
From the starters on offense — Devonta Freeman, Bobby Hart and now Barron — to playmaking defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan on defense and Karlos Williams on special teams, the Seminoles are putting to good use the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class.
“They’re not just playing, they’re helping us win and executing to win,” Fisher said about the first-year players. “That’s a big difference. The last two years, we’re playing 17 this year and last year we’ve played 17 and if I’m not mistaken, there was only four teams that played more than us and they all didn’t have a winning record and this year; two good years of getting experience for young guys quick.”
DESPITE THE HITS, MANUEL IS OK
Manuel took his fair share of hits last Thursday and any FSU fan that was watching probably grimaced each and every time an Eagles defender made contact with the Seminoles’ quarterback as if they themselves were the ones being tackled.
Because of the fact that Manuel missed time this year with a shoulder injury, each time he does take a hit it comes with that perceived risk that his left shoulder may be affected once again. Although he did admit to being a little sore after the win and uncomfortable on the long plane ride home, Manuel said Monday not to worry about his health.
“I still have the injury,” Manuel said. “It’s an injury that takes a while for it to heal but I am fine. I am able to play and it’s not bothering me; it’s not affecting the way I throw or anything like that so that’s all that matters to me.”
ANOTHER HOME GAME, ANOTHER FRIENDSHIP AT QB
The last time Florida State played at home, Manuel was dueling against a quarterback counterpart that he called a friend. This week, it’s the same.
While Manuel grew up in the same state and competed in the same camps as NC State quarterback Mike Glennon, he said Monday that he formed a friendship with Miami’s Jacory Harris the same way. They didn’t grow up in the same state but the two competed with each other at the Elite 11 Camp as seniors in high school and then both served as counselors earlier this year at the Manning Passing Academy.
Harris has struggled with consistency, accuracy and decision-making during his four-year career in Coral Gables but that script has been flipped this year. He enters the game against the Seminoles sixth in the nation in passing efficiency.
“I think he is doing a great job managing his offense,” Manuel said. “Jacory is a good friend of mine; I met him back in high school. I am extremely happy for him. Obviously this week we are going to be worst enemies because we play each other and we are going to compete against each other but I am extremely happy for him. He took a lot of heat early on in his years and he has injuries too. A lot of people don’t account for the injuries and things like that.
“I have been in that situation so it’s hard to deal with but whenever you can come back and still have success it’s good.”
TWO PLAYERS OF THE WEEK FOR FSU
ROOKIE – Nick O’Leary, Florida State, Fr., TE, 6-4, 240, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The true freshman led the Seminoles with a career-high 87 receiving yards on three receptions, which also matched his previous single-game best. O’Leary’s 58-yard reception of an EJ Manuel pass set up Florida State’s third score, good for a 21-0 lead against Boston College. It was the longest reception by an FSU tight end since Lonnie Johnson’s 78-yard catch in 1993. O’Leary also had a 23-yard reception which set up FSU’s final touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Anthony McCloud, Florida State, Jr., NG, 6-2, 311, Thomasville, Ga.
McCloud posted a season-high five tackles (4 solos, 1 assist) from his nose guard position as the Seminoles held BC to 94 yards on 39 carries. Florida State ranks third in the nation in rushing defense. McCloud registered a tackle for loss and a forced fumble, dropping Boston College tailback Rolandan Finch for a six-yard loss on the second drive of the game. FSU recovered at the BC 2 and jumped out to a 7-0 lead it never relinquished. In addition to stuffing the run, McCloud’s ability to push the pocket contributed to FSU limiting BC to 207 total yards.