Sept. 11, 2010
By: Brandon Mellor
NORMAN, Okla. - A week after a memorable start to the Jimbo Fisher era at Florida State, Saturday's 47-17 loss at No. 10 Oklahoma is one that the coaches and players at FSU would soon like to forget - except maybe for the valuable learning experiences that such an experience can provide.
Besides a nearly flawless first offensive possession to start the top-25 showdown, not much else went right for the No. 17 Seminoles in Norman, Okla. as the Sooners were able to successfully extend their super-successful home winning streak to 32 consecutive games.
Now, the question is how does FSU -- a team still learning a brand new defensive scheme and breaking in a host of youngsters on both sides of the ball -- respond?
Fourteen days into the 2010 campaign and the new-look football program at Florida State has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
The opening-day smack-down of Samford at home displayed a potent offensive attack and renewed defensive intensity that excited the fanbase and put the national media on notice. But against Oklahoma (2-0), the Seminoles (1-1) had 345 yards offensively and gave up 487 yards on the defensive side of the ball.
Starting quarterback Christian Ponder didn't look like his usually-dominant self, throwing for just 113 yards and two interceptions. Backup EJ Manuel had 108 yards and one touchdown.
Tailback Jermaine Thomas posted a touchdown on FSU's initial drive while rushing for a total of 58 yards on 11 carries for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
For Oklahoma, quarterback Landry Jones pitched for 380 yards and four scores. Ryan Broyles grabbed 12 of those passes for 124 yards and one touchdown.
Demarco Murray's one-yard dive into the endzone to start the first quarter gave Oklahoma an early advantage. The score marked the first touchdown that FSU had given up in the 2010 season.
Trailing for the first time all year, the first offensive series for the Seminoles couldn't have gone much better. Two plays after Ponder's terrific 15-yard scramble towards the goal line, Thomas lunged into the endzone on a one-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
FSU's other points came on a booming 52-yard field goal by kicker Dustin Hopkins early in the final quarter. Hopkins also made a positive mark on the game as be sent each of his three kickoffs into the endzone and thus prevented any potential big returns by the Sooners.
Manuel also found Taiwan Easterling on a 47-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play.
Next up for Florida State is a return to the more friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium as the BYU Cougars will come to Tallahassee for a 3:30 p.m. matchup on Sept. 18.
Seminoles.om will have a week's worth of preview information and coverage leading up to the ballgame this Saturday.
Also, check with the Seminoles.com Spirit Blog at www.seminoles.com/blog throughout the week and moving forward for columns, videos, a little humor and other interesting tidbits from around college football and the world of sports.
Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher Quotes
On the problems the defense faced on the first drive of the game:
"Well, I think they just got momentum. I think a big play of the football game early, we had that penalty on the kickoff return where we could have come back and matched them again. When we got backed up we went three-and-out and missed a signal on third down and we checked to a screen it was a missed assignment. It was open and maybe we could have gotten a first down and gotten some momentum back. I think what happened was they took the momentum of the football game."
On situations that dictated the outcome of the game:
"They scored and went up 21-7, and we got field position back. I think they got control of the kicking game too. In their kickoff return and in our return we didn't block very well, our starting position was very poor and we didn't make some plays on offense. We didn't convert third downs. A couple chances we had, (we) just lost control of the line of scrimmage a little bit. They just caught us off balance and they were scoring on their side. They scored the first four times I think they had it, and got up 27-7, and we had a chance right there at end of the first half. We got that turnover and if we got that score and moved it a little bit, that's 27-14. We get it at the start of the second half and we didnt take advantage of it. And they did a good job of mixing it up on third down and controlling the line of scrimmage."
On Oklahoma's defensive pressure:
"They got good pressure on Christian (Ponder). They did a good job of getting pressure and we lost first down. We needed to be more efficient on first down. Our third downs were more third-and-7 and third-and-longs and they were able to come after us a little bit."
On Florida State's defensive performance:
"I'm surprised, but they are still a young group and this was going to be a telling test to where we're at and it's one football game and Oklahoma did a great job. Oklahoma's got some very dynamic people and they had a heck of a first half and they did a good job. I thought our defense, the second half, played much better. Much of the two turnovers and the points they gave up mainly came up off our two turnovers on offense. We were trying to press and were trying to make some plays, but Oklahoma did a great job. I still think we can have a good defense, we just got a lot of work to do and, like I say. When you get on a roll like that in a half -- I've been on both sides of that -- and they did a good job. We can still be a good defensive football team and we got some young guys that need to step in and do whatever it takes and do a better job. We've got to coach them better and they've got to play a bit better."
On if he expected this outcome:
"No. I mean, you never know until you get here. There is always going to be work to be done. You've always got to improve the whole season and when you play a caliber opponent like Oklahoma who is very well coached and has good players, you find out. So, I didn't expect them to score that many in the first half, but they got hot and they did it and we just need to move on."
On Christian Ponder's play and frustration during the game:
"Well, he was frustrated that we weren't moving the ball and we didn't have a running game. We were third-and-long a lot. He had two or three guys open at times and we couldn't make big plays. When that happened he got pressured, he got hit and he missed a throw right there at the end of the half. He missed a comeback throw to Bert (Reed) over there. I think it was a third-and-seven right on their sideline right before the half. I thought that time, if we could have gotten some points and gotten the ball first in the second half, and he threw one high. They did a good job of not letting him get in that rhythm. He's in a rhythm coming right of the bat and then we got field position, had a drop and a missed assignment -- a couple missed assignments by receivers just where they had to be -- and Christian missed a couple balls. It wasn't all them; I mean it was just one guy here, one guy here and we didn't do a very good job.