Jacksonville, Fla.—On Saturday afternoon, the Florida State Seminoles (3-1) came into Jacksonville Municipal Stadium with one thing on their mind: win. That was the goal after a lackluster effort against Wake Forest the week before.
This would also be a day when FSU head coach Bobby Bowden would coach in his 500th career game as a head coach. Bowden was also seeking his 376th career win trailing Joe Paterno by one game.
The Seminole defense proved that they were as good as advertised. Many people questioned them after the first two ball games of the season against Division I-AA teams. They came out last week and only gave up 12 points against Wake Forest. Colorado would be their biggest test of the season so far.
Starters Dekoda Watson, Neefy Moffett and Patrick Robinson joined the defense on the field after serving their four-game suspensions, and what a difference it made. The defense now has even more depth.
Colorado (3-1) starting quarterback Cody Hawkins was running for his life all day as big Everett Brown, Moffett and Budd Thacker applied pressure from up front. In fact, Moffett got a sack on the first play of the game, which set up Antone Smith's 2-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve got the best end in the country in Everette Brown, and he told me what the take-off was and I just listened to him and I got a sack," Moffett said.
Jamie Robinson added an interception in his first action of the year. “It felt pretty good. I just thank the Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to get the pick," Robinson said. That’s something Mickey [Andrews] has been talking about a lot, especially since we didn’t have any."
The defense came out fired up, as if they knew that they would have to win today's game without any help from the offense. They did not want to leave anything on the table.
The offense for the Seminoles would show up via the running game, with Antone Smith rushing 25 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 60-yard touchdown run with 2:29 to go in the first half.
"I got really personal last year about getting run down from behind by the defense. I gave everything that I had on that run and dug down deep to get into the end zone and not let anyone catch me from behind," Smith said.
Colorado would have a punt blocked for a safety by Dekoda Watson. That would be followed up by a 36-yard Graham Gano field goal.
The Seminoles put 12 points on the board in the final three minutes of the first half. Bobby Bowden and Seminoles would take a 19-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Graham Gano would hit 52 and 44-yard field goals to expand the Seminoles' lead to 25-7 heading into the fourth quarter. The defense completely shut the Buffaloes out in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Seminoles special teams would get involved. Michael Ray Garvin, a world-class sprinter, would take a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. That would give the Seminoles a 32-14 lead. Cody Hawkins would add two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but that would be it for Colorado.
Antone Smith would cap of his monster day with a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Seminoles up 39-21. Smith is the first FSU running back to score three touchdowns in a game since 2002.
"I just do what I can do to help the team. When I go into the game and my number is called, I go out and run the ball as hard as I can," Smith said.
The Seminoles got help from every aspect except the passing game. While better than last week, the Seminoles passing game still needs a lot of work, as Christian Ponder would take every meaningful snap in this ball game.
He went 10-for-22 for 119 yards and an interception. The Seminoles rushed for 259 yards on 49 carries. That is a sign that Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher just does not trust his young quarterbacks.
This was a day of pounding the rock with Smith and the occasional swing pass to the back and receivers. Can this work against Miami next week, or will the Seminoles actually be forced to throw deep down the field?
The fact is Jimbo knew he could play it safe with the defense playing as well as it did. Florida State made no progress with the quarterback situation.
Still, Jimbo needs to find a way to get this offense rolling with the quarterback throwing the ball, because Miami has a lot of speed, and speed kills. Their defense is just as good as Florida State's, and this should make for one heck of a ball game.
The defense deserves a lot of credit. They seem to be at full strength. They did have a couple of miscues, but most of them were from guys who were playing in their first game of the season, so expect them to fix that.
Bobby Bowden said his team had no problem getting up for this game after last week's loss.
“You know one thing happens when you get beat like we did last week. You don’t have any trouble getting their attention the next week cause you’re mad, you’re mad, they know you’re mad," Bowden said.
The defense looks like they are one of the top defenses in the country and playing the way FSU defenses are supposed to play. The fact is the Seminole defense is legit.
This was a very important game for the Seminoles, but they won't be celebrating too long. "By tomorrow night we’ll be working on Miami," Bowden said.