The much anticipated Labor Day showdown with Miami is now less than three months away. That means you can start thinking about getting together the family-favorite tailgating recipes, dusting off the old garnet and gold wardrobe, and preparing for the Saturday tradition of Florida State Football at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Every football season brings a new air of excitement to Tallahassee. There is nothing like the summer before a new football season. We’ve all been there. The preview magazines hit the shelves in local bookstores, the latest polo shirts and new Nike apparel becomes available, and it is impossible to get your fix of Seminole football until the beginning of the fall. That nervous feeling sets into your body and those three months before football season seem like an eternity.
Well we have the solution. For the next 10 weeks, the Seminoles.com staff will preview every game for the 2009 season–starting with the Florida game and working our way through the schedule leading up to the Miami game on September 7th. Each week, we will take a look back at memorable moments in Seminole history, give you insight on opponents and returning players, and preview each matchup as the summer progresses.
The great thing about college football is that no one–not even those TV analysts–has a complete idea of what is going to happen this season. Sure, most people have a good feeling that Florida State’s offensive line will be one of the best units in the ACC, Dekoda Watson will lead a veteran defense along with Patrick Robinson, and Christian Ponder should have a much better grasp of the offense this season. But the surprises and nail-biting games of a new season are what make college football the most anticipated sport of the season. It’s that time of year, Seminole fans. Are you ready?
By Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
Different year, same story for the Florida State football team.
Entering a late-September game against Wake Forest last season, the Seminoles looked to defend Doak Campbell Stadium against a surprising program that had gotten the best of them the past two seasons.
But turnovers – lots of them – proved to be the Seminoles’ ultimate downfall as the Demon Deacons earned a sloppy 12-3 victory over FSU and extended their current winning streak to three-straight.
While the FSU defense did its part in shutting down the Demon Deacon offensive attack, the FSU offense was another story.
In total, quarterbacks Christian Ponder and D’Vontrey Richardson combined for a staggering five interceptions. The two signal-callers finished the game a measly 12-for-36 for 118 yards and no touchdowns.
The running backs didn’t fare much better as Richardson led the way with 47 yards on the ground – 23 yards more than starting tailback Antone Smith.
Certainly Sept. 20, 2008 was a night to forget for Seminole fans. Because after all, sports are all about the sentiment, “what have you done for me lately?”
Past successes oftentimes mean nothing when recent failures are on fans’ minds. In Florida State’s case, that’s especially true for its history against Wake Forest.
Starting with the first-ever matchup between the Seminoles and Demon Deacons in 1956, FSU earned a win in all but three of the first 24 games against Wake Forest. But the last three years have been vastly different and far more heartbreaking for Seminoles fans as the Demon Deacons have reeled off three-straight victories.
In the series history, the Seminole still boast a 21-5-1 record over Wake Forest so history is on their side in their quest to restore order.
With a hungry defense and steadily improving offense, 2009 could prove to be the season that FSU ends the skid and finally exorcises the Demons.
By Ryan Pensy, Seminoles.com
|Brandon Ghee – Cornerback|
In a secondary that was decimated by graduation and the NFL Draft, the lone returning starter is Brandon Ghee. Ghee enters the 2009 season having started 11 games in 2008, his first season in the starting lineup. After starting on the opposite side of Alphonso Smith in 2008, Ghee will look to take over the title of “lock-down corner” this season. Yet there are questions swirling this offseason regarding Ghee, mainly the health of his sprained knee. Ghee injured his knee during the first spring practice and missed the remainder of spring football. He also missed two games last season due to a foot injury but was able to rebound with seven pass breakups on the season. Ghee played well in the meeting with the Seminoles last season and accounted for six solo blocks in a 12-3 win for the Demon Deacons. How well Ghee can adjust to three new teammates in the secondary will go a long way in determining the success of the 2009 Demon Deacons.
|Riley Skinner – Quarterback|
For a quarterback that had limited scholarship offers coming out of the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., Riley Skinner has made the most of his time at Wake Forest. Skinner enters the 2009 season as the most accurate passer in ACC history with a .673 completion percentage. He is the winningest quarterback in school history having amassed 26 wins as a starter. Yet the most impressive element to Skinner’s game is his ability to run the offense of Head Coach Jim Grobe with precision accuracy. Case in point: during the 2008 EagleBank Bowl, Skinner set an NCAA record for completion percentage in a bowl game when he completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 166 yards in the win over Navy. Skinner is undefeated against the Seminoles in his three previous starts and it will be crucial for the `Noles to pressure him from the start if they are to end the Deacons three-game winning streak.
Offensive Starters Returning: 81% (9 of 11)
Joe Birdsong (LT), Joe Looney (LG), Russell Nenon (C), Barrett McMillin (RG), Jeff Griffin (RT), Riley Skinner (QB), Brandon Pendergrass (RB), Ben Wooster (TE), Mike Rinfrette (FB)
Defensive Starters Returning: 36% (4 of 11)
John Russell (DT), Boo Robinson (NT), Kyle Wilber (DE), Brandon Ghee (CB)
Starters Lost – 40% (9 of 22)
Matt Robinson (DE), Aaron Curry (LB), Stanley Arnoux (LB), Chantz McClinic (LB), Alphonso Smith (CB), Chip Vaughn (FS), Kevin Patterson (SS), D.J. Boldin (WR), Chip Brinkman (WR)
|Demon Deacons Breakdown|
|Head Coach:||Jim Grobe|
|At Wake Forest:||9th year, .530 winning percentage|
|2008 Record:||8-5 / 4-4 ACC/ 3rd Place|
|Series Record:||21-5-1, Florida State|
|2008 Team Stats||Yards||NCAA Rank||ACC Rank|
|Points Per Game:||21.0||101st||10th|
|Points Allowed Per Game:||18.3||13th||3rd|
Returning Stat Leaders
|Rushing:||Brandon Pendergrass||(587 yards, 5 TD’s)|
|Passing:||Riley Skinner||(2,347 yards, 13 TD’s)|
|Receiving:||Marshall Williams||(390 yards, 2 TD’s)|
|INT’s:||Brandon Ghee, Boo Robinson, Alex Frye||(1)|
By Scott Kotick, Seminoles.com
Although the past three years have not been kind to Florida State, Seminole fans will most remember this series as a one-sided affair. Florida State leads Wake Forest 21-4-1 all time, with the first meeting during the 1956 season in the only tie (14-14) between the Demon Deacons and Seminoles. Besides the past three seasons, the only other loss for Florida State came in 1973, which coincidentally was the worst season in school history (0-11).
But let’s remember that the history between these two programs has been controlled by Florida State, usually in dominating fashion coupled with an offensive explosion and typical staunch Seminole defense. Here are three of the most memorable moments.
October 30th, 1993: Wake Forest at Florida State
The Demon Deacons came into Tallahassee and fell victim to the fourth shutout of the season at the hands of Mickey Andrews’s nationally ranked Seminole defense. It was homecoming during the 1993 season, and number one Florida State put on a show for the hometown crowd to clinch their 18th straight homecoming victory.
This game will forever be remembered as the day that the Seminole backfield ran wild in a 54-0 win over Wake Forest. Behind freshman sensation Warrick Dunn, Florida State racked up 414 yards and five touchdowns on the ground with 162 coming from Dunn on just eight carries. Senior Sean Jackson also added 116 yards, but it was Dunn’s electrifying 63-yard touchdown run on a direct snap in the 2nd quarter that sent 66,666 Seminole fans to their feet. It was just a sign of great things to come for Dunn, who still ranks as Florida State’s all-time leading rusher.
Not to be outdone, the Seminole defense proved why they were number one in the country, shutting out the Deacs behind Clifton Abraham’s 29-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 1st quarter. It is what Seminole fans had come to expect out of their hometown team, who racked up 647 yards of total offense and allowed just 170 yards total offense from Wake Forest.
October 14th, 1995: Wake Forest at Florida State
It was again homecoming in Tallahassee, and the Seminole didn’t disappoint. Behind senior quarterback Danny Kanell, Florida State had scored 70 or more points in two games before their meeting with Wake Forest, and this game in mid-October proved to be no different.
The statistics alone tell the story: 749 yards of total offense and 401 yards on the ground. It was an incredible offensive show at Doak Campbell Stadium, as the Seminole scored on six consecutive drives in the first half to put the game away before halftime en route to a 72-13 thrashing of the Demon Deacons.
Damian Harrell hauled in two touchdown passes from Kanell and E.G. Green and Melvin Pearsall each added one. But it was the Florida State running attack that was most impressive, rushing for five touchdowns and 112 yards from junior tailback Warrick Dunn. Mickey Andrews’s Seminole defense held Wake Forest to just 154 yards total offense and 1-14 on 3rd down conversions.
The Seminole won their fourth straight ACC Championship in 1995 and went on to a number four finish in the polls with a 10-2 record.
October 25th, 2003: Wake Forest at Florida State
This game will forever be known for the chant in Doak Campbell Stadium with minutes left to go in the fourth quarter: “Bobby Bowden, Bobby Bowden!”
Coach Bowden passed Joe Paterno in the record books for most wins all time with 339. Linebacker Michael Boulware and defensive tackle Travis Johnson hoisted Bowden up on their shoulders and walked him to midfield. It was utter jubilation in Tallahassee in celebration of the greatest coach of all time.
Junior quarterback Chris Rix led the Seminoles to 505 yards of total offense, with 339 yards through the air and two touchdown passes to Craphonso Thorpe. But it was Leon Washington’s jaw-dropping 65-yard punt return for a touchdown that set the tone for the game in a 48-24 win for the Seminoles.
It was Bobby Bowden’s day, and the Seminole fans let him know just how much they appreciated his years of coaching and everything he had done for the Florida State football program and the city of Tallahassee.