Date: December 31st, 2010
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Opponent: No. 20 South Carolina
What are your favorite plays in Florida State football history?
It’s a question that I’ve been asked many times over the years in a variety of different settings. I’ve had it asked by acquaintances in the office once they notice an FSU polo that I’m wearing, and I’ve had deep-dive discussions about it over a few adult beverages with my closest friends.
Since 2010, the answer has been consistent. I take them to Youtube, and I show them 2 plays. They’ll see Greg Jones trying to test the absolute density of a human sternum and the play that I’m going to write about today.
I love carnage.
2010 was an interesting year for the Seminole football program. They had a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher, and nobody really knew what to expect. The team finished 7-6 the year before, and many were uncertain if the ’Noles were capable of reclaiming their throne at the top of the college football world that they had abdicated since the early 2000s.
Results were mixed, but promising. Fisher guided the team to a 9-3 record and a berth in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech. The highlights included a win against Miami on the road and snapping a 6-game losing streak to the University of Florida. Florida State ultimately lost that game against the Hokies and were selected to play against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl.
Beating South Carolina in Atlanta was not going to be an easy task, as USC head coach Steve Spurrier’s team was stacked with talented players. However, none of those players had captured the public’s imagination quite like freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore burst onto the college football scene with an immediate quickness. In just his second game ever, he rushed for 183 yards while breaking 42 tackles against the University of Georgia. In arguably his best performance of 2010, he gashed the Florida Gators for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns in a game that clinched the SEC East for the Gamecocks. Lattimore was for real.
However, the Seminoles had some impact (heavy emphasis on impact) players of their own.
Greg Reid was a flat-out playmaker. He wasn’t the biggest or the most physically-imposing Seminole. But, when FSU needed a spark, Reid was often the catalyst.
Another thing about Reid that I personally admired: he could HIT.
On their first possession of the game, the Gamecocks found their way to the FSU 20-yard line. USC QB Stephen Garcia lined up in the shotgun formation and floated a pass to Lattimore in the flat. What happened next was equal parts destruction and beauty.
Lattimore caught the ball and turned his head only to come face-to-face with his impending doom.
Reid, locked onto Lattimore in a way that was more missile than human, exploded into the USC running back with a force per body weight ratio that is higher than my arithmetical abilities allow me to calculate. The hit was so devastating that the announcers thought at first that it must have surely been illegal (shoutout to Nigel Bradham against Miami.)
It wasn’t illegal, it was just terrifying. The ball was dislodged from Lattimore’s grip and was returned for 46 yards by Seminole linebacker Kendall Smith.
It was the first lost fumble of Marcus Lattimore’s career.
Lattimore was knocked out of the game (duh), and Spurrier’s Gamecocks ended up losing to the ’Noles by a score of 26-17. Although the aforementioned play was Reid’s most memorable, it was not the only one that he made that night. He also caused another fumble by South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery and made many critical pass breakups.
Reid, as he was wont to do, showed up when the Seminoles needed him the most. It was a perfect bookend to the first season of the Jimbo Fisher era, and a moment that has stuck with me ever since it happened. To this day, I try to make sure that it sticks with others too.