Oct. 17, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has said in recent weeks that his Seminoles were struggling to play games that feature a complete effort by the offense, defense and special teams at the same time.
If the offense played well, the defense wasn’t playing up to par. If the special teams unit was clicking the offense might not be firing on all cylinders. If the defense … well, you get the idea.
But against Duke that changed and the scoreboard reflected the shift.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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“After watching the film I was very proud of the guys the way we went on the road and stayed focused,” Fisher said Monday at his weekly press conference. “We probably played our best game of the year when you talk about all three phases at least for the most part of execution with consistency.”
Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that FSU played such an impressive game on a day that saw the official return to full health of quarterback EJ Manuel.
Sure, Manuel played a week earlier at Wake Forest but that was only because of what Fisher deemed an “emergency situation.” This week was different. Manuel was healthy throughout practice and looked like it from the first offensive series for the Seminoles.
FSU’s undisputed leader was back and doing what he does best: moving the chains by air and by ground. After shaking off the rust and soreness of his injured left shoulder, Manuel, who said Monday that he felt really good on Saturday and still feels good, was able to be himself again as a dual threat from the pocket.
His ability to throw the deep ball and pick up valuable first downs with his legs help the Seminoles register their best running game of the season to this point.
“When the quarterback runs or [has] the threat of running, it creates angles for the linemen because you are up a guy,” Fisher said. “You don’t have to extend yourself for a full block like on a stretch play. Now because the ‘back becomes an extra blocker, you can declare a ‘back so the angles on the linemen can help. It makes them where they don’t have to be as physical at times or where they don’t have to be extended as much or chase as much.
“Their angles become better and what they do, it makes them better players and allows them better angles because football is a game of angles.”
Manuel may be back to full health but it’s the exact opposite for another junior on the roster: Jacobbi McDaniel.
FSU’s starting defensive tackle dislocated his ankle in the win over Duke and had to be carted off the field. It was a scary injury at the time and one that opened up speculation that McDaniel would be relegated to the sidelines for an extended period.
Fisher confirmed that speculation Monday when he announced that McDaniel is lost for the season.
“He was getting better and better and really getting in his groove of playing,” Fisher said. “You miss his experience.”
After sharing the news about McDaniel, Fisher said he hopes freshman star Rashad Greene can return this week. Greene missed the game against the Blue Devils with an injured ankle.
“I am hoping,” Fisher said as he symbolically knocked on the wooden podium he stands behind during the press conferences. “I think so. He was close in that game. They looked at it so I am hoping he will be back this week. That would be a big boost to get him back.”
FREEMAN GETS HOT
Devonta Freeman stole the show on Saturday with his 109-yard rushing performance in a game that saw the resurgence of the Seminoles’ ground game.
Freeman didn’t start the game but instead replaced starter Ty Jones early in the contest and never looked back.
Fisher was very complimentary of Freeman on Monday, saying that he was too good to take off the field in the win.
“Just the consistency level he played with,” Fisher said. “The burst that he showed. He had good burst, good acceleration. Physical, he ran through tackles, ran through arm tackles, good balance inside and outside and seemed to get stronger as the game went on. In high school he carried the ball a lot and he got in a rhythm and that’s why we wanted to stay with him. He got hot.”
HOPKINS GETS HONORED
During the press conference, the ACC announced that FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins has been named the league’s Specialist of the Week.
With four successful PATs against Duke, Hopkins established a new FSU school record, pushing his streak of conversions to 109. It snapped a record held by Derek Schmidt (108, 1984-86) for the past 26 seasons. Hopkins also converted a pair of field goals against the Blue Devils, including a 48-yarder into the wind at the end of the first half, which extended his streak of successful FG attempts to 17. That’s one field goal shy of Graham Gano’s career record 18 consecutive FG’s. In addition to his placement kicks, the Hopkins-led Seminoles lead the ACC in Kickoff Coverage with a 49.5 net average. Hopkins is one of three kickers in the NCAA’s FBS who has not missed a kick this year, making all 24 PATs and all 10 field goals.
TV, KICK-TIME FOR FSU VS. NC STATE
The ACC also announced early Monday afternoon that Florida State’s Oct. 29 game against NC State will be at noon and will air on ESPNU.