Florida State Guts-Out Win Over Boston College, 24-19

FSU was expected to start slow coming off the huge win over Miami, and it did.  The 'Noles were expected to shut down the offense of Boston College from the word go, so that the 'Nole offense could get some short fields and score early against Boston College's excellent and very conservative defense.  That did not happen.  Florida State was expected to eventually get its offense on track after building that lead.  That did not happen.   But Florida State did get to experience a close game for the first time all season.  And the 'Noles have now led at the end of twenty consecutive quarters and put away Boston College 24-19 with an eight-minute drive to close out the game.

The game started poorly for Florida State as Montel Harris racked up 140 yards on his first five carries of the game.  Florida State's defense was clearly caught off-guard with some of the blocking Boston College was using.  BC went up 6-0 on those two drives.  Credit Florida State's defense for playing much better after those first two drives, however, as BC would gain only 131 yards on the remaining 12 drives.  On the day, FSU's defense allowed only 266 yards on 57 attempts, good for 4.7 yards per play.  That might sound good, but FSU actually allowed BC's best offensive day of the year.  FSU did play very good red-zone defense, and that helped to hide some of the defects.

Boston College v. BCS-Conference Teams & Notre Dame
  Offense Defense Total
  Plays Yards Per/Play Plays Yards Per/Play Out-Gained By %
VT 49 228 4.65 59 278 4.71 1%
ND 51 160 3.14 65 295 4.54 45%
at NCST 51 165 3.24 67 348 5.19 61%
at FSU 57 266 4.67 55 264 4.80 3%

As you can see, this was not a good defensive day.  FSU fans can take a lot of comfort in the adjustments the 'Noles made, but the first two drives were not when the game was already over.  This was by far the worst offense FSU will see all year and FSU should have dominated it like Notre Dame and NC State did.  

Florida State's offense did not play well either.  FSU managed only 264 yards on 55 plays before the final time-kill drive.  That's 4.80 yards per play.  Looking at what BC has surrendered to other teams (above), however, it was actually better than Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.  

A lot of credit needs to go to Boston College's defense.  In the preview we told you that BC had a very good defense and that if FSU was going to roll the Eagles it would need to have short fields as a result of Eagle turnovers or special teams plays.  That did not happen, and FSU was forced to drive the length of the field all day, starting five drives inside its own 25.    BC's defense is extremely well coached, has good talent, and is very veteran and experienced.  BC's late shifts gave the offense fits all day.  

The lack of short fields can account for the lack of points relative to teams with similar yards-per-play performances against the Eagles, but FSU should have had a better offensive day.  And while the short field prevented the blowout, the lack of short fields did not cause four FSU turnovers.    

Early on Boston College did a great job of stopping the run and giving FSU the short passes.  The offensive line couldn't generate any push against Boston College, and the backs didn't run well early on.  Christian Ponder had a poor day, throwing 19-31 for 170 with two touchdowns and three interceptions, including one returned for BC's only touchdown.  Two of the interceptions were on very poorly-thrown passes, one was a result of a tipped ball when FSU's blocker failed to cut the rusher.  The receivers didn't play well either for the first half as Fisher inserted some younger players into the lineup.  

The offense really seemed to be boom or bust, with five drives exceeding 50 yards and 8 drives totaling fewer than 10 yards.  Only one drive was more than 10 but fewer than 50 yards.  

One thing FSU did extremely well on offense was execute in the red-zone against an excellent red-zone defensive team in the Eagles, going 3-3 with two touchdowns and a field goal.  The 'Noles also proved they could close out a game on the ground, a situation it had not faced this year.  

It was revealed after the game that Christian Ponder had a burst bursa sack in his right elbow.  It is believed that he should be able to play in 11 days against N.C. State, but the situation is definitely worth monitoring.  "You measure players on their bad days," Fisher said about Ponder.  "The ones that find the ways to win and do what it takes to still be successful are the special ones and that's what he is."  

FSU does have a quality backup quarterback in EJ Manuel.  If Ponder doesn't look good in practice, Fisher won't hesitate to go to Manual as EJ was his first prized recruit upon arriving to Tallahassee and he and Fisher have a great relationship.  The likelihood, however, is that the bursa will calm down over the next 11 days.  Tim Scribble had this to say on the bursa injury:

It's not a very painful injury, but it does make the elbow tender. They put me on anti-inflammatory meds for the swelling and I didn't miss a football practice.

It really looks worse than it is, it swells up bad and looks like you have an egg sticking out of your elbow. Swelling and tenderness happens fast right when the injury occurs. It could have limited some of his throws or had an affect on them.

It seems likely that while wearing the compression sleeve, Ponder's swelling wasn't immediately noticed.  It will be interesting to see how he throws on the anti-inflammatory meds this week.  

The special teams were solid but not spectacular.  

"We have not arrived," said Fisher. "We have a long way to go but I saw a football team today that stayed together and never gave up. Great seasons are made on games that you have to scratch and claw to win."

Final Stats

Florida State now has a bye week and will prepare for its Thursday-night contest against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.  FSU survived its letdown situation with a win, although ugly, and the bye week could not have come at a better time for the 6-1 Seminoles, who lack depth at several key positions.  Starting defensive tackle Everett Dawkins broke his thumb, which is the first significant injury to FSU's extremely thin defensive line this season.  Dawkins should be able to go unless there are complications.  

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