By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
MIAMI GARDENS – Cameron Erving has taken occasional practice reps at center for months, never knowing if he’d ever move inside from his usual spot at left tackle.
Erving, a fifth-year senior, got a brief taste of life in the middle during Florida State’s win over Virginia last week. He got a full dose Saturday night at Miami.
With FSU’s top two centers still sidelined by injuries, Erving started at center during the Seminoles’ 30-26 victory over the Hurricanes. Freshman Roderick Johnson made the first start of his career, protecting quarterback Jameis Winston’s blind side at left tackle.
“I feel like I did all right,” Erving said. “For my first game I feel like I did OK.”
“OK” might be an understatement. FSU’s new-look offensive line had perhaps its best game of the season. The Seminoles’ front five paved the way for 114 rushing yards – including two long TD runs by freshman Dalvin Cook – and allowed Winston to be sacked just once.
And Johnson, a 6-7, 330-pounder from Florissant, Mo., drew rave reviews for his debut performance.
“Tremendous,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “To play in this environment, in that atmosphere, in a Miami-Florida state rivalry – dadgum, now.”
Johnson’s premiere has apparently been a long time coming. Fisher said he receives significant practice reps every Monday and has been steadily working himself into game-readiness.
Erving’s place in the middle of the line didn’t allow him a great perspective on Johnson’s performance. But he could see well enough to know that FSU ran the ball effectively and that Winston wasn’t often under duress.
And Erving, an All-American at left tackle a year ago, has also noticed Johnson’s steady improvement in practice.
“Sometimes he does better on Mario Edwards than I do,” Erving said with a smile. “That’s just being honest.”
Another day at the office for Aguayo
No matter how easy Roberto Aguayo made it look, it wasn’t a simple decision for Jimbo Fisher to send his kicker out for a 53-yard attempt.
With the Hurricanes leading 26-20 early in the fourth quarter, FSU faced a fourth-and-5 from UM’s 36. Not many would’ve blamed Fisher had he decided to go for it. His kicker might have been one.
Roberto Aguayo made three field goals, including a 53-yarder, at Miami. Photo by Jeff Romance
“I came onto the field and I was looking at Coach Fisher,” Aguayo said. “I was like, ‘Let me kick this. Let me kick this. I want this field goal.’ And, lo and behold, he called me out there.”
Aguayo then did what he always does. His attempt sailed calmly through the uprights for a field goal that matched his career-long and put pressure back on UM.
It was part of a three-field-goal day for Aguayo, who also connected from 43 and 37 yards. The third-year sophomore is now 5 for 5 after missing for only the second time of his career three weeks ago at Louisville.
“He’s unbelievable,” Fisher said. “Mr. Reliable. But if you ever go in there and watch him prepare … This doesn’t happen by accident.”
Spreading the love
Rashad Greene’s four-catch, 53-yard output was his fewest in more than a month.
But Greene’s quiet night allowed the rest of FSU’s receivers to make some noise.
With the Hurricanes paying extra attention to Greene, quarterback Jameis Winston completed passes to 10 different receivers. Freshman Travis Rudolph led the way with 65 yards on four catches. And sophomore Kermit Whitfield had his best game of the season, posting three receptions for 60 yards.
“I told them at halftime – ‘It’s y’all’s time to step up,’” Greene said. “’I can only do so much. I can only move around so much. Y’all have got to make plays.’
“They were able to come through and that’s what it’s all about. No one man can stop the show.”
Whitfield’s emergence is especially encouraging. Since catching three passes in the season opener against Oklahoma State, he hadn’t factored much into the passing game, having caught more than one pass just once.
Fisher, though, said that Whitfield has recently upped his effort in practice and pushed himself back into the receiver rotation.
“I said this week in practice — this guy is ready to play,” Fisher said. “He has hit a stride, got his weight back down a little bit and looked quick.”