O-Line impresses in all phases
The talking points were there.
Tales of scrimmage success against an elite defensive line made their way around the practice fields and into the interview rooms. Defensive players perked up at the utterance of the offensive line and smiled as they talked about the fierce trench battles of fall camp.
Although those stories were met with skepticism, minds could soon be changing.
By itself, a successful game against Murray State won't validate the Seminole offensive line. But given the prolonged struggles of 2011, including failures against similar caliber teams to start last season, Saturday was a significant step towards quelling concerns about the Seminoles' five blockers.
Running back Lonnie Pryor, who scored three of Florida State's seven rushing touchdowns in a 69-3 victory over the Racers, had nothing but glowing remarks for the push in front of him Saturday. Pryor twice scored from a yard out in the type of short yardage situation that has plagued the Seminoles in recent years.
"That was the main thing we focused on during camp and throughout this whole week was short yard and goal line (situations) because last year we weren't too good at it," Pryor said. "Today we did a great job. The offensive line, like I said, did a phenomenal job. I think we fixed it and hopefully we can continue to do what we're doing."
On a night in which the Seminoles could have succeeded in whatever phase of offense they chose to feature, coach Jimbo Fisher called for a balanced attack. The breakdown of Florida State's 606 yards was fairly even - 321 were through the air and 285 came on the ground.
More important for coach Fisher, there was not one negative play from scrimmage throughout the night. The only blemish for the line was a fourth quarter holding call after the starters we're enjoying rest.
"I don't think I was pressured once," said quarterback EJ Manuel. "As far as sitting in the pocket, it was perfect. Great protection."
Manuel was protected all night by new left tackleCameron Erving, while starting right tackle Menelik Watson missed much of the first half due to what coach Fisher termed a "tweaked ankle." Watson returned in the second half, spelling reserve and fellow JUCO-transfer Daniel Glauser. The trio interior linemen, from left to right, Josue Matias, Bryan Stork[/d] and [db]Tre Jackson, were involved in every first-team snap.
As for Erving, who now has one career game under his belt on offense, he said his nerves were a point of strength Saturday.
"I always feel nervous before the game," Erving said. "It's just whether you use it positively or negatively. I mean my butterflies are always good in my opinion because you get built up energy and it comes out when you need it."
Stats aside, coach Fisher said he saw "great" pass protection, but was quick to temper his praise after a successful offensive night.
"We got a long way to go," Fisher said. "But I think it's much improved."
Greene scores, then fumbles as returner
One thing about Rashad Greene is certain: he doesn't take long to make an impact in the regular season.
Last year, on his very first play at the collegiate level, backup quarterback Clint Trickett found Greene for a 28-yard touchdown. The wide receiver's sophomore season started off with a bang on special teams also, as Greene took his first punt return of 2012 47 yards for an untouched trip to the end zone.
"The players were in position, the only thing I did is run," Greene said of the game's opening score. "I give them all the credit. They blocked for me. All I did is run."
Although his night started out in style, Greene also had one gaffe in his first game as the Seminoles' top punt returner. A third quarter punt by Steven Mix knuckled on Greene, who then fumbled on the play for one of FSU's two team turnovers.
"I have to make better decisions," said Greene. "But all of that is in the past. I've got to focus on next week
make smart decisions and keep moving."
Coach Fisher lamented sloppy play on special teams, including the fumble, but reiterated that Greene will be atop the depth chart as a punt returner this season. In his starting role as a receiver, Greene racked up four catches for 42 yards.
On the injury front, coach Fisher said in postgame that defensive end Brandon Jenkins had X-rays on his foot, and that the results came back negative. Jenkins left the game limping in the latter part of the second quarter and did not return.
Freshman defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. was not on the sidelines for the game, and while coach Fisher did not address that directly, he did say "at this point" Edwards and fellow freshman defensive end Chris Casher will likely redshirt.
Florida State registered seven rushing touchdowns against Murray State. The last time the 'Noles ran for even six scores in a game came against Maryland in 1992. Tailback James Wilder Jr. set a new career high with 106 yards on 12 carries.
Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner's five tackles for loss amassed 30 negative yards on the Murray State ledger. Werner's five TFL's and four sacks are both career highs.
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