April 14, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The all-garnet team was all good Saturday in Florida State's spring game.
Dressed in garnet jerseys and garnet pants and playing against the Gold Team in all white, FSU's Garnet squad capped off spring practices with a 35-20 victory in front of 40,631 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Clint Trickett led the way for the winning team with two touchdown passes while walk-on wide receiver Rashad Gholston had two scoring receptions. Trickett finished the game with 173 yards on 12-of-23 passing.
"I was very pleased with his control in the huddle," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said about FSU's second-team quarterback. "I think his knowledge of what we're doing right now is getting much better right now. He made some really good plays."
One of those plays happened on the first snap from scrimmage when Trickett found Greg Dent for a 75-yard touchdown. That scoring play was quickly followed by a long EJ Manuel-led drive that was capped off by a James Wilder, Jr. two-yard touchdown reception for the Gold Team.
But the early-game big gains wouldn't last. Both defenses combined to force 11 first-half punts before the Garnet Team ultimately allowed 382 total yards and forced two turnovers by game's end and the Gold Team allowed 339 yards.
Brooks' interception, which he returned 51 yards for a Garnet score in the second quarter, was one of two thrown by Manuel. Junior linebacker Jeff Luc registered the other.
Manuel concluded his final spring in Tallahassee with a 28-for-51 performance with 255 yards, two touchdowns and the two turnovers.
"I wasn't satisfied with the interceptions but I am satisfied with our team," said Manuel, who admitted that his first interception shouldn't have happened because he should have run instead. "I thought we gave great effort. I thought as a whole team we competed ... this was like a championship game. This is for bragging rights. We don't win anything. This was a spring game. They have bragging rights all summer."
Kenny Shaw added a touchdown and 53 yards for Manuel's Gold Team and tight end Nick O'Leary showed his increasing value to the offense with five catches for 53 yards. Redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin made his FSU debut and added four catches for 46 yards for the same team.
Wilder ran for a Gold-best 32 yards on 11 carries. Lonnie Pryor added five rushes for 24 yards and a late touchdown dash.
For the Garnet, senior Rodney Smith had 71 yards on seven catches and Jarred Haggins had three grabs for 63 yards for an offense that was paced by the Trickett and Jacob Coker tandem. Coker finished the day with 137 yards passing, including a nifty 35-yard pass to tight end Dan Hicks that set up a Debrale Smiley touchdown run.
"You can see the touch and the arm strength," Fisher said about Coker. "He put some balls in some holes to get it down the field, too. I was very pleased with the way he played."
Trickett's first play in his debut as a redshirt freshman last season was a 28-yard touchdown to fellow rookie Rashad Greene against Louisiana-Monroe. Saturday, Trickett orchestrated similar magic when he found Dent for that early score.
Trickett rolled left out of the pocket before throwing across his body to Dent.
On the Gold Team's ensuing possession, Manuel led a 14-play drive that culminated with Wilder's touchdown grab before Brooks' took the interception to the house 6 1/2 minutes later.
Brooks, who replaced Terrance Parks as the starter at safety alongside Lamarcus Joyner this spring, said he knew the moment he had the takeaway that it would be a pick-six. "I plan on making a lot more," he added.
In the second half, Trickett guided the Garnet back to pay dirt as he found Gholston in the corner of the endzone to push Garnets lead to 21-7.
After Gold answered with a three-yard Shaw touchdown grab late in the third quarter, Garnet went back up by two scores when Coker connected with Hicks for the 35-yard gain that set up Smiley's seven-yard touchdown run.
Up 28-13, the Garnet Team then forced a punt and added another touchdown when Gholston caught his second score -- this one a 25-yarder from walk-on James Moore that pushed his squad's lead to 35-13.
Sandwiched between two missed Dustin Hopkins field-goal attempts from more than 50 yards out, Pryor added a three-yard touchdown plunge with :26 seconds left.
Now that spring practices have ended, FSU will have voluntary summer workouts before reporting for fall camp Aug. 5.
"It was a good spring," Fisher said. "Glad we got through it relatively unscathed with no season-ending injuries for next year. Some young guys got some opportunities and some older guys did and guys are starting to come through.
"We've got a lot of work to do; know where we're at. We've got a good foundation built. Now it just matters what we do between now and the first ballgame."