Why Florida State Can Still Be Excited for 2009...
Yes, FSU lost their first game to Miami. Yes, FSU is 0-1 in the ACC to start the season. But this was against Miami. History shows both teams can rebound from a loss to the other. Miami lost in 2007 but was still in the race for the Coastal Division title before Georgia Tech ran over them. The game last night showed why FSU is still the front-runner for the ACC Atlantic Division title.
In 2008, Christian Ponder only threw for over 200 yards once all season (254 against NC State). Last night, Ponder threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns with a jump-ball interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. In 2008, when Ponder didn't see anyone open right away, he would immediately take off. Last night, he stayed poised. He sat in the pocket and would find an open receiver. And when he did run, it was crucial, like his 30-yard run in the final minute to set FSU up deep in Miami territory. Ponder hit five different receivers for over 30 yards against Miami and has dramatically improved over last year.
The true freshman had a debut party against Miami—an interception. His pressure on Miami quarterback Jacory Harris caused a lobbed pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by FSU defensive end Markus White. Reid had 100 yards in kickoff returns with a long of 51 and averaged 33.3 on the night. All in his first collegiate game ever. And against Miami.
Another true freshman. First game ever at FSU. Many were skeptical FSU could easily replace 2008 Lou Groza Trophy-winner Graham Gano, but when FSU called on Hopkins in the second quarter to come out for a 52-yard field goal, the Seminoles would find out how good Hopkins was. The field goal was perfect, with distance to spare. Though he did miss a PAT, which was a result of bad timing on the holder, snapper and Hopkins, he did come out in the fourth quarter and hit a 45-yard field goal.
Much of the offseason focused on the off-field issues the wide receivers faced from their on-campus brawl in November 2008 and others with DUIs. Those problems were erased last night. Ponder hit a total of eight receivers last night, with Richard Goodman leading with 82 yards. With a stronger offensive line, Jimbo Fisher stated during the offseason he wants to work senior tight end Caz Piurowski into the passing game. He did just that. FSU's first touchdown of the game was a 10-yard pass to a wide open Piurowski in the end zone. Piurowski added two other catches in the game to finish with 33 yards.
The defense unveiled a new scheme last night called the "prowler." Essentially, the defensive line consists of just a single lineman, five linebackers, and five defensive backs. The scheme is used so the offense does not know how the five linebackers will be used. Against Miami, FSU used the prowler defense on both interceptions. For a defense that was scorched by Miami's passing attack last night, this seems to be a bright spot in a defense that looks to have work ahead when they face BYU on September 19th.
Last night should not be a determining factor on how the FSU season will go. Though Miami beat the FSU secondary for 386 yards, Miami came into this game with one of the better receiving corps the Seminoles will face this year. FSU can use this as a measuring stick to base their season on. The offense was already in midseason form and it's good the defense was tested early in the season.
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