Jan. 5, 2012
1. What was your favorite moment (on field or off) from the football season?
Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Senior Writer: I'm a sucker for the pre-game festivities at Doak Campbell Stadium -- specifically the last few minutes before the ball is kicked off. There's no better pre-game tradition in all of sports than when Chief Osceola plants the spear at midfield while the crowd lets out a collective "ahhhhohhhh" and the flashbulbs pop in unison. And while each of these goosebump-giving moments is generally the same before each home game in Tallahassee, none can compare to the planting of the spear before the game against Oklahoma. From the time the team ran out of the tunnel beneath the fireworks until the ball was kicked off, it was a pre-game spectacle that I will never forget.
Ryan Pensy, Assistant Athletics Director for Digital Media: Best moment was the final gun on the Seminoles 21-7 win over Florida in the Swamp. In the time I have been at Florida State this was the first time we have won in Gainesville that I have been in attendance. Getting a win over your rival is even better on their turf.
Scott Kotick, Assistant Director of Digital Media: It had to be the Oklahoma atmosphere. Brandon and I always go to the roof of the press box before every home game, but this one was different. Normally we go during the national anthem to experience everything in the open air. But this time, we decided to go an hour before kickoff. The student section was full and the stadium was louder than I've heard in quite some time. You could tell it was going to be a special night, and it lived up to the hype. I know we lost the game, but the experience of watching our team run out of the tunnel to a sold-out Doak crowd, with fireworks and deafening noise adding to the atmosphere, it was amazing. The stadium normally doesn't fill in until about five minutes left in the first quarter: it was full 45 minutes before kickoff. I hope we experience more crowds like that. It's been too long for Doak not to rock like that every week.
Layne Herdt, Seminoles.com Video Producer: My favorite moment from the football season definitely came in the last game. Bowl games are always an opportunity to see your favorite seniors for the last time and watch up and coming players you can be excited for the next season and Seminole fans got both this season. Watching Bert Reed and Nigel Bradham celebrate after their win against Notre Dame proved how much they cared about winning. For Reed, he didn't even have to play in the game since he had a bum hamstring, but he did and made one of the best catches of his career. As for Bradham, he likely has a lucrative NFL career ahead of him, but listening to him on field after the game proclaim "undefeated in bowl games, 4-0" over and over again proved he wanted this game badly. As for the future, look no further than MVP Rashad Greene. He is going to be one of the best to play at FSU, mark my word, he took over that game and changed the momentum. I cannot wait to watch him do that for at least two more seasons.
2. What's one thing you know now that you didn't know before the season started?
BM: That Telvin Smith is more than just a high-energy special teams player. Smith is a legitimate playmaker and burgeoning star at linebacker. I also learned that you do not have to possess what's considered to be "prototypical size" to play middle linebacker -- at least in college, anyway. As a freshman in 2010 Smith earned his rookie playing time by flying down the field and making tackles on special teams. Prior to the start of this past season, Smith was given more responsibility on defense and moved to the inside where he served as Vince Williams' backup. Well, one full season of seeing the speedy Smith make plays in the backfield, run down tailbacks and drop back into coverage, it's safe to say that he was an important piece to FSU's top-five defense.
RP: That a freshman four-star wide receiver out of St. Thomas Aquinas would become a superstar for the Seminoles in his first season. I am a big fan of Rashad Greene and what he was able to accomplish in limited time at Florida State. The Seminoles were looking for big plays from their wide outs and Greene had people talking from the start of the season. Look out for Greene next season when he is healthy and can play a full year.
SK: Austin Barron is going to be very good. I had no idea that he would be a starting offensive lineman as a true freshman. I honestly thought he would come in as a serviceable backup to Bryan Stork and would get minimal playing time. The way he played center for us against Notre Dame, that shows a lot about his character. Not many guys could come in and do what he did. I'm very impressed with Barron and I think he'll be a starter for the next three years at Florida State.
LH: I have two, the first being our offensive line needs a lot of work. I went into the season saying that Florida State would go as far as its offensive line took them and looking back on our 9-4 record, that was about right. So many new faces in new places plus injuries certainly placed a massive role in that, but I'm afraid I will be saying the exact same thing going into the 2012 season. The good news, I'm pretty sure that the Seminoles have some stars in the making up front, hopefully they will develop quickly. The second one is Bjoern Werner is the best player on the roster. Not only can Werner rush the passer, he has shown a knack for dropping into coverage and knocking down balls. The skies the limit for him and if he's not up for some of the major awards at the end of the 2012 season then there should be an investigation.
3. Who was the best interviewee on the team?
BM: The popular choice here is Lamarcus Joyner -- and for good reason. The hard-hitting safety speaks in a deliberate, methodical tone that is perfect for a recorder or microphone. In addition to being blessed with blazing speed and strong football instincts, Joyner understands the game of football and I always leave an interview with him with the feeling that I learned something new.
RP: For me this came down to Shawn Powell and Bert Reed. I have had the opportunity to interview both of these guys several times for the pre-game radio broadcast and each is a class act. Powell made it on the air a record three times this season. I hope both guys have a lot of success at the next level.
SK: There are a lot to choose from here. Bjoern Werner, Bert Reed, Telvin Smith, Dustin Hopkins just to name a few. But, Lamarcus Joyner stands out above everyone else. This young man is the guy we request an interview with multiple times per week. He's articulate, he gives great sound bytes, he's positive and upbeat, but most of all, he loves to be interviewed. You can really tell that he enjoys talking with the media, and that he relishes every opportunity to talk about Florida State football. After either a win or a loss, he's one of the first players to come up to be interviewed, and he's the same person regardless of the game's outcome. Everyone knows that he's a special football player, but this young man is truly just as special off the field.
LH: I'm sure we all have the same answer for this one and it's Lamarcus Joyner. We live in a world now where players give you very bland answers to very bland questions and everyone is trying to not say anything that will get them in trouble or reveal too much information. Joyner on the other hand, always had some valuable insights and I came away from every interview with him learning something about the Seminoles. He was never cocky and he never ran his mouth, but was always informative and insightful when answering questions. Whenever I talk about underclassmen I always forget to mention Joyner, because I always forget he just finished his sophomore season.
4. What one game will you remember the most when looking back on the 2011 season years from now?
BM: Florida, no doubt. The Oklahoma game was obviously monumental because of the national attention and build-up and it boasted an on-field product that didn't disappoint. But Florida State won in Gainesville this season. That doesn't happen very often and the fact that the Seminoles dominated the Gators and sent their fans to the parking lots early -- despite only churning out 95 yards of offense -- is pretty unforgetable. That game extended FSU's reign over the state of Florida another year and moved Jimbo Fisher to 4-0 as head coach against the Gators and Hurricanes. And oh yeah, it was a win. Over the Gators. In Gainesville. If you are of the mindset that FSU's poor offensive performance outweighed the good in that game, think of it this way: what if your favorite team was the one that held its most bitter of rivals to less than 100 yards of offense … and still lost? I wouldn't want to be on that side of it and I won't soon forget being in the post-game press conference and not being able to hear Fisher's comments because the Marching Chiefs were blasting the War Chant on the other side of the wall as they exited the stadium.
RP: The Seminoles matchup versus Oklahoma. This was a weekend event for the Seminoles and had the "big-game" atmosphere that has been missing in recent years. From the record crowd at ESPN College Gameday, to the atmosphere at Doak, it was a weekend to remember. Even though the outcome wasn't what the Seminoles had hoped for, the atmosphere was electric for anyone in attendance.
SK: Clemson. You always like to remember wins more than losses, but this one sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb. I'll remember the missed opportunities, the (very) questionable penalties, Clint Trickett shining at QB, and most importantly, what that game means for our 2012 season. Clemson won the ACC in 2011, and our team knows that. For how well Clemson played on offense, we were in position to win the football game. Remember, we also played that game without Greg Reid. We had two cornerbacks playing the entire game, and both Mike Harris and Xavier Rhodes were in and out of the game with injuries all afternoon. Our team wants another shot at Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, and I know that game will be huge when they come to Tallahassee this fall. It's a game that EJ Manuel didn't play in, so you can bet he's circling that game when it comes around. And it's a game that I'll never forget…until we step between the white lines this fall.
LH: Even though it was a loss, it has to be the Oklahoma game. I have been attending Florida State games since 1999 and I don't remember an atmosphere quite like that one. The crowd filled the stadium before the game and was loud the entire evening and when Clint Trickett found Rashad Greene for the game-tying touchdown the place exploded. Even in defeat I was proud to be a Seminole on that night, because not only did FSU play incredibly well (especially after losing Manuel), but the fans absolutely played a factor in the game. Hopefully there will be more crowds like that in years to come, not to mention more wins.