Coach Jimbo Fisher's tenor changed when he spoke of a particular individual performance in another rivalry win.
Asked what extra dimension his junior tailback, Devonta Freeman, brought to the field Saturday night, Fisher threw out a quick joke before taking a moment to think of a proper description.
Upon starting his answer, the words Fisher used to describe Freeman, the starring offensive act in Florida State's 41-14 win over Miami, were soaked with satisfaction and pride.
"What a warrior," Fisher said. "You talk about a Seminole warrior
There is not an ounce of bad in his whole body."
Freeman, playing against his hometown Hurricanes, turned in perhaps the signature performance of his playing career in Tallahassee. The junior touched the ball 29 times, accounting for 176 total yards and three touchdowns. And he did it all with a flair reserved only for Miami.
"I dreamed of always doing good in a big game," Freeman began, "but I didn't know who it would be against. I was so happy it was against Miami."
A night in which quarterback Jameis Winston did not start sharp meant big plays had to come from other places. Winston's two first-half interceptions were countered by his only throwing touchdown of the night, a perfectly-timed screen pass to Freeman with just under 5:20 to go in the second quarter. Freeman secured the ball up the lefthand sideline and followed escorts Josue Matias and Bryan Stork for 48 yards and a score.
Freeman led the Seminoles in receiving yards with 98 and tied for a team high six receptions. Add in a pair of rushing touchdowns, including a 12-yard score that put the game out of reach in the third quarter, and the dream night for Freeman was complete.
Perhaps most stunning on the stat sheet were Freeman's 23 carries, 14 more than the next closest 'Nole. Florida State rushed the ball 44 times overall for four scores and 202 yards.
The heavy amount of playing time had to come as a pleasant surprise to one spectator in particular: Freeman's mother. The junior told reporters after the game that among family and friends, his mother made a rare trip to Tallahassee to see him play, overcoming "financial problems" for the in-state rivalry.
Though each player to a man expressed excitement for Freeman's performance, fellow running back James Wilder Jr. put it best.
"That's like you competing versus your brother," said Wilder. "You always want to beat your brother in something. That's just who you want to beat the most your whole life is your big brother."
And while Freeman agreed right away with his teammate's analogy, he flipped it around just a bit.
"You've still got to let them know I'm big brother," laughed Freeman.
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