Florida State had their highlights in beating an SEC team, but they were few and far between.
If I could gouge my eyes for the poor, I probably would have had a more enjoyable Saturday than watching the Florida-FSU football game.
While making my eyes bleed would have been painful, it would not make the 'Noles faithful cringe on four hours of lost time. Who knew we were watching these headache of subhuman offenses compete for football's version of The Biggest Loser? At least stabbing my eyes out for the poor would have benefited somebody.
And the 'Noles defense couldn't even shut out the Gators.
Amidst a season of missed opportunities, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher could hang his hat on a 4-0 record against Miami and UF. But "the path to the national championship does not go through the state of Florida" mantra doesn't ring as true as it used to.
The final game of the year notched a win for Florida State, but not much else. I would not say confidence is the program is crumbling, but year three is really when the 'Noles will take off.
Let's finish up year two, though, and find some morsels of hope and signs that point to a run-for-No.1 next year. The winning streak could've started Saturday in the Swamp.
There's still one more year. One more year. One more year.
E.J. Manuel was supposed to electrify the nation come this fall, but rather, inflated his average statistics.
Florida is 26th nationally for their scoring defense, but that's no excuse for E.J. to slack off in this road game.
Given the sideline quarrels of these teams, I would think Manuel would rise to the occasion. Unsurprisingly, mediocre statistics littered Florida Field, and the starting quarterback was never able to get the offense in the Gator end zone.
Manuel still deserves myriad amounts of praise—he's worked with an offensive line that has "growing pains" labeled on it in more ways than one—for keeping the Seminoles out of a depressing 7-6 record, but overall, this outing should leave him itching to light the scoreboard come bowl time.
Devonta Freeman deserves a standing ovation for his exceptional play (as a true freshman, no less).
Will Muschamp's defense does not deserve an overstuffed Thanksgiving's dinner's amount of praise for limiting the Swiss Army knife of solid running backs the 'Noles let loose.
Yes, James Coley's offense gained more penalty yards on offense than actual yards; the ball club exhibited a 95-yard penetration in Gainesville.
Foo on you.
Let's entice our December drought of Seminole football with some scintillating statistics:
Devonta Freeman rushed for two touchdowns and averaged roughly three yards per carry.
Florida State has a blue-chip runner living up to his rating; Freeman again reminded all of Florida State why he will be the best offensive player on this squad for years to come.
Christian Green and Rodney Smith both gave the Seminoles some semi-respectable numbers against the Gators, but did nothing to get themselves on the national radar.
The fact that they got positive yards was nice, along with the fact that E.J. was at least able to get the ball to somebody who wasn't Devonta Freeman.
Grade: C (for essentially having no presence on the field)
There is youth on the line. Repeat five times while keeping the fetal position.
Rick Trickett better do something besides this, please!
Florida actually is a team with enough Sunshine State caliber players to give the offensive line a real challenge.
Fortunately, the opponent's talent did not make FSU's O-Line look as bad as it typically does.
Side Note: You know that Virginia team that was on a hot streak. Yeah, they kept Jimbo Fisher's band limited to 13 points at Homecoming. They allowed 38 points to Virginia Tech. With the current coaching staff, the Hokies will continue to rule the ACC.
My co-worker, Isaiah Clark, praises the Seminoles' defense, calling this season's crew equivalent to the '90s top five brand.
I couldn't agree more.
Except for one excellent Florida play by currently underwhelming UF quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Florida State nearly ended the second longest streak of non-shutouts in the country.
UF hadn't laid a goose egg on offense since 1988 and came within five minutes of doing so on Senior Night at the Swamp. Two hundred and ninety five had transpired between the 88 futility showing against Auburn and this post-Thanksgiving stinker.
Give Mark Stoops his time in the sun as well; with the fourth-ranked scoring defense in the country, he, not Urban Meyer, should be the next head coach at Ohio State.
Even though the Gators chomped off some points, the defense capitalized on John Brantley's ineptitude by catching three passes for interceptions.
Praise also goes to the unit for setting up each of the Seminoles three touchdowns.
Florida State's secondary supported the linebackers quite well when it came to dishing interceptions, and never allowed a big pass from a seemingly improved John Brantley.
Dustin Hopkins could win the Lou Groza Award, and he definitely deserves consideration.
Well, Hopkins certainly isn't clutch. He missed his only field goal attempt against the Gators (albeit a 50 yarder); nevertheless, missing the uprights (no matter how close the ball is) in a rivalry game is inexcuseable.
Hopkins does not seem to be the clutch kicker Florida State promotes. Every Garnet and Gold fan will swoon at the comment, but consider this: Hopkins' legendary kick came against Clemson when the game was tied at 16-16. If he missed that field goal, there would not be a residual effect. The game would go into overtime and be decided then.
The missed kicks show more than the ones he has made. Each of the last two Homecomings have ended in a last-second loss because Dustin can't make a kick when the gun's pointed at his head. He's an excellent player, but he could not get the ball where it needed to be to overcome the late deficits.
Mark Stoops should be the ACC Defensive Coordinator of the year. Maybe the offense could win one if people could figure out who is in charge.
Is it Jimbo Fisher? He's the head coach, but was the offensive coordinator for several years.
Is it James Coley, who actually has that title but is rarely seen or heard?
Is it Rick Trickett, who teaches the offensive line and is the father of the 'Noles backup quarterback?
Jimbo stated that he did not coach the game as an offensive coordinator, as some might have insinuated. Nevertheless, the offense has looked stressed all season. It looks like a college kid who is rampantly studying, craming an all-nighter to maybe get a D on his final.
In other words, perpetual chaos.
The play calls are fine; it's the execution that needs work. Thankfully, over a month of practice time should have the players' rough spots buffed out for the bowl game.
Players' zest for this rivalry game hasn't faded. Greg Reid showed the fire that's lit both these team's effort near the end of the fourth quarter. Once the 'Noles ran out the clock instead of taking a field goal, the two teams nearly brawled again.
The passion in this game is second to none. It reflected in the efforts each team put out on the field, but clearly, this game was only fought for pride. For the first time since 1988, both teams came in to the game unranked. Considering that these teams dueled for national prestige with Top 10 rankings throughout the 1990s, the rivalry has reached a nadir.
Next year's edition should be more invigorating, as the 'Noles will likely be a top five team hosting the struggling Gators. Until then, it's been a great year, and looking forward to chatting after the bowl game!