Tallahassee, Fla.—The swagger seems to be back in Seminole nation, as Florida State blanked Western Carolina 69-0 last Saturday night at Doak S. Campbell Stadium.
It was an unusual start to the 2008 season for FSU, as a hot and sunny day turned into a torrential downpour. A game that was supposed to start at 6 p.m. was postponed to 7 p.m. This was also a day when Florida State would play 28 freshmen due to disciplinary and academic reasons.
This would also be sophomore QB Christian Ponder's first start. The weather conditions only added to the nerves of the young players.
Both teams warmed up once again and began play at 7:30. The Seminoles scored off of a 68-yard punt return by Tony Carter with 13:11 left in the first quarter. Play was immediately suspended due to lightning in the area.
At 8:30 both teams returned to the field to warm up and resume play.
It would take two-and-a-half hours for Ponder to make his much-anticipated debut—and what a debut it was.
Ponder completed 11 of 17 passes for 196 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Ponder was not the only Seminole QB to turn some heads.
Sophomore D'Vontrey Richardson entered the game in the second series in the third quarter, and the team did not miss a beat.
Richardson went 5-6 for 57 yards and a touchdown. Richardson did most of the damage with his feet, with four carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
Simply put, the Seminoles have two strong quarterbacks to play with.
As a whole, the offense put up 561 total yards of offense.
The swagger is definitely back in Tallahassee. Many skeptics will say Florida State just beat up on a lower tier team, and they may be right. But in past years FSU has let lower-tier teams stick around longer than expected, and not intentionally.
With the team at half strength due to suspension, the Seminoles proved that their young players are ready to play, and that they can play. This is a much improved football team. The final score is a testament to that. The young guys who had never played a major part on this team stepped up and played like professionals.
The defense let the Catamounts get close to the Seminole red zone two times, but the Seminole defense bent but did not break. They held the Catamounts out of the end zone. In previous years the defense may have let a team like Western Carolina taste the end zone, but not on this day—not this team.
The Seminoles stay at home for the next two weeks to play UT-Chattanooga and then No. 19 Wake Forest.
Seminole nation may have witnessed the beginning of the long road back to the top of college football for Florida State. The young and hungry talent may make the trip a little shorter than expected.