ASI Game Insider: Pitching a shutout

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Defense gets its goose-egg (By Derek Redd, Osceola)
The Florida State defense came tantalizingly close last season more
than once in scoring a shutout, but teams like Colorado and Duke were
able to score late and dash those dreams.
That dream finally came true Saturday in the Seminoles' 69-0 win over
Western Carolina, the first FSU shutout since a 33-0 win over Virginia
in 2006.
"Even though it was Western Carolina, it feels good to me to put up
that goose-egg," defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said. "That's
pretty exciting for the defense.
"The defense played pretty well," he continued. "It was the first
game, so we had to work out some of the kinks, but to put up the
goose-egg, I'm pretty proud."
The Catamounts reached the Florida State red zone just twice Saturday. WCU got to the FSU 14 in the third quarter but had to settle for a field goal attempt from the 20. WCU kicker Blake Bostic pushed the
kick wide right. The Catamounts got to the FSU 18 at the end of the third quarter and were forced to throw an long pass on fourth-and-20 from the FSU 28 that fell incomplete.
Florida State allowed 176 yards of total offense, the lowest total since holding Virginia to 183 in 2006. The Catamounts could muster just 57 yards rushing and completed just 10 of 25 passes. What made
the feat more impressive was that the FSU defense was missing several starters and playing a number of freshmen and walk-ons.
But defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said a shutout was the goal, no matter the personnel.
"That was big," Andrews said. "In today's time, to get a shutout is huge. That was what we expected to do. Now, to go out and follow through with it, we just had to find out. It was just a matter of going through with it. You never know in a situation like that, especially when you're playing a lot of young kids."
Carter's sets tone on punt return (By Derek Redd, Osceola)
Tony Carter has returned just two punts in his FSU career. But that
second one was a doozy.
Carter opened the FSU scoring with a 67-yard return for a touchdown against the Catamounts. With about 13 minutes to go in the first quarter, Carter fielded a WCU punt at the Seminoles 33, then weaved
through the Western Carolina players for the score.
"It was key for us," Carter said. "I was just trying to go out and do
my job and the guys up front did a good job of blocking. I was able to
see a crease and take it to the house, and it kind of set the tempo for
the game tonight and also for the season."
Carter's only other punt return came in 2006, a 19-yarder.
The last time a Seminole returned a punt for a touchdown was Willie
Reid in the 2006 Orange Bowl against Penn State. The last time FSU
returned the first punt of the game for a touchdown was November 11,
1995, when Mario Edwards scored on a 24-yard return off a blocked punt
against North Carolina. The last time FSU opened the season with a
punt return for a touchdown was 1977, on Scott Warren's two-yard
return off a block against Southern Mississippi.
Young players make their mark (By Derek Redd, Osceola)
Linebacker Nigel Bradham used to watch FSU sprint out of the tunnel
and take the field at Doak Campbell Stadium. On Saturday, he got his
first opportunity to do it.
"It was awesome, really awesome," Bradham said. "That was my dream. I
finally go the chance to do it."
Bradham was one of 22 true freshmen to play against Western Carolina,
the most freshmen to play in one game in the FBS. Arkansas reported
the former top number, playing 15.
Bradham, the top-rated linebacker prospect in the country as a high
school senior, entered the game at linebacker in the first quarter.
"I was nervous, but I just tried to turn it into adrenaline," he said.
Bradham recorded five tackles, three solo, on Saturday. He said the
entire freshman class was anxious to make an immediate contribution to
the team.
"We came in pumped," he said. "A lot of us were watching the
Alabama-Clemson game and they had a lot of freshmen come into play.
And that kind of gave us motivation. The 2008 class is really making a
big impact.
Owens shines in first start (By Chris Nee,
Redshirt junior wide receiver Rod Owens made the most of his first
career start on Saturday night. The Jacksonville native pulled in four
receptions for 61 yards. He was also the catalyst for the Seminoles
first offensive touchdown drive.
Owens and sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder hooked up three times
for 50 yards during the second Florida State drive of the second
quarter. A completion down to the five yard line set up an Antone Smith touchdown run.
"It was really fun," Owens said of the evening. "I enjoyed myself more than ever because I knew what I was doing and everybody else on the offense knew what they were doing. We were just throwing and catching and having fun out there."
The wide receivers combined for 263 receiving yards on the evening with four different players hauling in a touchdown catch. In Owens opinion, the group can be described in one word.
"Ridiculous," Owens said. "We are really talented. The hardest thing we had to overcome and the smartest thing we did was learn to be coaches. We have so much talent that it comes down to being fundamentally sound."
While some of the offensive output can be attributed to the caliber of
opponent the Seminoles faced, Owens believes that the wide receiver
output will become a trend this season.
"Today we just showed a little bit of what we can do," Owens said. "I
feel like it is going to stay consistent throughout the season."
Offense starts out sluggish then catches fire (By Gene Williams,
With three weather delays throwing off the start of the game it's no wonder it took the Seminole offense a while to get on track. But once Jimbo Fisher's troops settled down and got into a rhythm there was no stopping them.
Florida State's first three offensive drives resulted in two punts and a missed field goal, which drew some moans and groans from a crowd expecting a blowout. However, the sluggish start didn't last long as FSU scored touchdowns on each of the next nine series.
"It felt like forever before I could get out there and play," quarterback Christian Ponder told "Once we got on we were a little off, a little out of focus and it showed those first couple drives. But once we got everything going we were pretty unstoppable."
Unstoppable may be an understatement. Not only did FSU post its highest point total since a 72-13 win over Wake Forest in 1995, during the streak of nine straight touchdowns the Seminole offense faced third down just twice.
While the on again, off again start to the opener was frustrating for the coaches and players, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher sees a silver lining in the team going through Saturday's weather delays.
"Going through this somewhere in the future may pay off," Fisher said. "There may be a big football game that we have where that happens and they (opponent) hasn't been through that scenario before. That's happened to me before a team that won the national championship with. That happened at the beginning of the year, we were all crazy, and then it happened in a big game, the ninth game of the year, and that team hadn't been through it and we jumped on them 21-0... So that can be a positive."
Defensive Stats

Toddrick Verdell: 8 total tackles, 4 solo, 1.5 tackles for loss (loss of 7 yards), 1 PBU.
Kendrick Stewart: 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack (loss of 2 yards).
Nigel Bradham: 5 total tackles, 3 solo.
Myron Rolle: 5 total tackles, 2 solo.
Jamie Robinson: 5 total tackles, 2 solo, 1 PBU.
Derek Nicholson: 5 total tackles, .5 tackle for loss (loss of 1 yard).
Roosevelt Lawson: 3 total tackles, 3 solo tackles.
Moses McCray: 3 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss.
Rod Roberts: 3 total tackles.
Kenny Ingram: 3 total tackles, 1 sack (loss of 6), one tackle for loss, one PBU.
Vince Williams: 2 total tackles.
Korey Mangum: 2 total tackles, 1 PBU.
Kendall Smith: 2 total tackles.
Everette Brown: 2 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss (loss of 3 yards).
Markus White: 1 tackle.
Ochuko Jenije: 1 tackle.
Jon Johnson: 1 tackle.
Louis Givens: 1 tackle.
Tony Carter: 1 tackle.
Darius McClure: 1 tackle
Jamar Jackson: 1 tackle
Recardo Wright: 1 tackle, .5 sack (loss of 3 yards), 1 tackle for loss, 1 FF, 1 FR.
Nigel Carr: 1 tackle.
Everett Dawkins: 1 tackle.
Benjamin Lampkin: 1 tackle.
Toshman Stevens: 1 tackle, .5 sack (loss of 2 yards), .5 tackle for loss.
Michael Ray Garvin: 1 PBU
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