Last year, Fsu played one FCS opponnett in jacksonville st. Against jacksonville st., we had to come back in the 4th quater and win it with 2 minutes left in the game. This year we played samford, and the results were pleasantly different. A 53 point win against a mediocre FCS team is something that should be expected from a top 25 team, but given last years performance against an FCS team, it's something nole fans can get excited about.
Ponder simply looked great. He took over from where he left off last year before his injury, throwing 4 tds in the first half alone. His pocket presence was great, avoiding pass rushes and showed amazing scrambling ability while still checking down his receivers and finding the open man. His lone interception was less his fault and more of a great play by a samford defensive lineman, hitting the ball at the line causing it to be intercepted. Manuel started off rough. He seemed very anxious to want to make a deep pass he forced a throw into triple coverage, and it was a bad one at that, causing it be picked. But afterwards, Manuel seemed to calm down and made smart throws and overall looked good.
Not much to say except they good in all phases, blocking, running, and receiving. Glad to see the ball was spread around between all running backs, and espically happy to see Ty Jones play the way he did, rushing for over 100 yards on just 8 carries. Lonnie Pryor definetly showed his versatility, catching 2 touchdowns. Debrale Smiley is making Fsu fans excited, he looks like stronger, faster pooh bear williams.
Definetly our biggest question mark on offense, espically after the loss of jarmon fortson, but they looked solid. Easterling didn't look like he missed the spring playing baseball. He ran routes very well and made good catches. Bert Reed looked he his going to be our big play go to receiver, but against tougher defenses like oklahoma next week, there will need to be more explosiveness out of him and others. Rodney Smith looked very fast on his big reception, alot faster than you would think a 6'6" receiver should run. Willie Haulstead looked very good, considering he caught only pass last year. If he continues to get better, this receiving corp as a whole is going to be very dangerous. I was wanting to see some other younger receivers get some action- A.J. Alexander, Kenny Shaw, Christian Green, and Greg Dent, but then again for the freshmen they may want to see if they can be able to redshirt them.
Our teams biggest strength, and it looked that way. They looked solid all throughout, and I loved the continued downfield blocking that I saw many times throughout the game.
Our pass rush was arguably our biggest problem last year. Well I know its against samford, but they looked alot better in this game. Mcdaniel, Mccallister, Jenkins, and Werner all were involved in multiple plays putting heavy rushes on the qb, sacking the qb 4 times. Samford has an elite RB in Chris Evans, but our DL did a great job keeping him in check, holding him to only 39 rushing yards, and holding the entire team to 80 rushing yards.
Last season, the biggest problem I saw from our linebackers was overpursuing. Even though they did an excellent job today, I still saw a little bit of that against samford. Kendall Smith stood out the most to me on our LB's corp. He looked very fast, getting into the backfield many times and made a few very good plays. Very happy to see our freshmen Christian Jones, Jeff Luc, and Telvin Smith getting involved and looking good in their playing time.
This group looked terrible in just about every game last year. Today, they looked very sharp. Joyner and Reid showed they are not afraid to lay down a big hit on a bigger guy. One hit Joyner put down really impressed me, even though their was a flag called for helment to helment, which replay showed it was obvious he lead with his shoulder. Rhodes and Harris looked solid as well, doing a great job with their coverage, and Harris also got a pick. Very pleased to see freshman Terrance Brooks play amazing coverage on a couple of plays, making an great pass break up. The safeties weren't tested much, but that usually is a good sign that they didn't let their man get open.
Speical teams play
Dustin Hopkins looked solid, knocking several kick offs into the end zone, hitting all his extra points, and going 1 for 1 on field goals. Greg Reid returning the punt for the touchdown, and the blocked punt just shows our special teams are good to go
All in all my noles played a little above my expectations. If we play this way against oklahoma, we should win. But they will be a much tougher test than samford of course. Next will definetly tell where we are as a program. GO NOLES!!!!