Any die-hard Florida State football fan couldn't possibly feel anything but pain following Monday's devastating, 38-34, loss to their long-time foes from South Florida, the Miami Hurricanes. And I'm not talking about the ill effects of the beer and buffalo wings consumed at the local watering holes in Tallahassee and beyond.
Nothing hurts more than a season opening loss at home in front of a packed house on prime time national television. Not to mention, it was a conference game, and several on looking highly touted recruits were on hand trying to decide what helmet they'd be donning in 2010. Now that all the dust has settled, let's take a look back at what we learned from this 2009 edition of Florida State football.
The cons from this debut are obvious and glaring. But believe it or not, I saw some things about this team FSU fans can be optimistic about. Usually these season opening tussles with Miami rarely live up to their historic billing. Rusty, low-scoring games are what we are accustomed to, and what most people expected from Monday's game. We got the exact opposite. Both offenses looked surprisingly sharp and both defenses looked confused and tired.
Florida State put zero pressure on Miami quarterback, Jacory Harris, which put the vulnerable FSU secondary in no position to cover the speedy Hurricane receivers. This was evident from the onset, and Mickey Andrews' defense failed to make the necessary adjustments. The only defensive positive came from freshman, Greg Reid, who was flying to the ball like a seasoned veteran. Reid had an interception, caused another interception that was returned for a touchdown, on top of 100 kick off return yardage on three tries. However, the lack of big plays from his teammates may force Andrews to go with his younger more talented players in the future. Harris torched the Seminole defense for 386 yards on 21-for-34 passing, and two touchdowns.
Despite late execution down the stretch and a number of dropped passes, the FSU offense played well enough to win. Quarterback Christian Ponder looked drastically improved from a year ago. Ponder went 24-41, which would have been better without the drops, for 294 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The junior spread out his passes to eight different receivers, including tight end Caz Piurowski who caught the Seminoles first touchdown. Florida State fans know the tight end has rarely been used in the passing game from seasons past. Something that has always puzzled me.
Offensive Coordinator and head coach in-waiting, Jimbo Fisher, has clearly put a stamp on this offense, and called a good game for the most part. Unfortunately, poor clock management and a very questionable option play call inside the five yardline may have cost them the game. Yes, Jarmon Fortson should have caught that final pass in the endzone, but FSU had their chances.
On the upside, FSU was penalized just five times for 35 yards. Seminole freshman kicker, Dustin Hopkins drilled two long-range field goals of 52 and 45 yards to make up for missing an extra point that may or may not have been his fault. It looked more like a timing issue on the snap.
Florida State will need a bounce back performance this Saturday against Jacksonville State, who is led by LSU cast-off quarterback, Ryan Perrilloux. Perrilloux was suspended for JSU's, 37-17, loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Florida State will have an opportunity to redeem themselves when they play at #9 BYU, who is fresh off an upset win over third-ranked Oklahoma. A rare match-up with South Florida precedes their return to ACC play when they travel to Boston College on October 3.
At least its early in the season with plenty of football left to play. But for me, I'm all set with these Monday night kick-off games... Lets play on Saturdays.