January 7, 2014

Fake punt call spurs FSU offense to title win

PASADENA, CALIF - Jimbo Fisher had to dive deep into his bag of tricks on Monday night to jump-start a stagnant Seminole offense.

He pulled out, of all things, a fake punt. And the unconventional call added just enough of a spark to get FSU's offense rolling.

The Seminole offense, the most prolific attack in college football history, sputtered in the first half of the national title game. Facing a suddenly aggressive Auburn defense, FSU managed just three points and a measly 90 yards in its first five drives.

Down 21-3 late in the second quarter, the game appeared to be slipping away from FSU, especially when an attempt at a two-minute drill before halftime sputtered around midfield.

Facing fourth and four from his own 40, Fisher decided to change the game. He called a fake punt, a direct snap to Karlos Williams.

"We lost momentum in the game, it was 21-3," Fisher said. "I knew with five minutes to go if they got it back and scored, the game could be over right there before half. I knew we had the ball coming out in the second half and we're here to win this thing. We weren't here just to show up and play well. And I thought that's what we had to do to gain the momentum of the game back, and it worked."

The play caught Auburn completely by surprise. FSU's blockers went right, Williams scampered to the left and the misdirection froze Auburn's defense for just long enough to give Williams space for a 7-yard gain.

Turns out, it was just the confidence boost FSU needed. The Seminoles rode the momentum from that play all the way to a touchdown after an 11-play, 66 yard drive and took some much-needed points into halftime. Instead of a 21-3 deficit, FSU looked a much more manageable score.

And in the second half, the FSU offense was able to finally find a groove off of that momentum. FSU's 24 plays before the fake punt yielded just 4.7 yards per play. After the fake punt, FSU averaged 6.8 yards per play.

"Man, that probably started up the car," wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin said. "Getting that first down with Karlos. That just gave us hope."

Not only did going for it knock FSU's offense into shape, it also gave the Seminole defense some much-needed time to recover against Auburn's up-tempo attack.

"It really helped us out," senior safety Terrence Brooks said. "They go fast and do that hurry-up offense. Seeing our team being able to execute was good."

There was also a certain poetry to Fisher going with a trick play, in the national championship game, with legendary former coach (and trick play aficionado) Bobby Bowden acting as an honorary captain to boot. Either way, it worked. And with trick plays, that's all that matters, right?


  • Devonta Freeman became the first FSU back to rush for 1,000 yards or more since Warrick Dunn in 1996.Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin also passed 1,000 yards receiving for the year on Monday as well.

  • Jameis Winston crossed the 4,000 yard passing barrier, and is just the second quarterback at Florida State to do so. Winston's 4,077 yards ranks second only to Chris Weinke's 4,167 in 2000. Winston is the first freshman in FBS history to have both 4,000 yards passing and 40 touchdowns.

  • Chad Abram caught a touchdown pass in the second half, giving him three TD catches on eight receptions for the season.

  • FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo scored 10 points on MOnday and is now the FBS all-time leader in single-season kick scoring. Aguayo has 157 points this season.

  • Senior linebacker Telvin Smith finished with a career-high 15 tackles on the game.

  • Florida State officially finishes as the highest scoring offense in FBS history with 31 points on Monday. FSU finished with 720 points this season, breaking Oklahoma's mark from 2008.

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