by Jeremy Z. at College Football 2Day
Florida State got things going early and played a very impressive first half. The Noles showed signs of that team we watched the first few weeks of the season. Even though it seemed that they relaxed too much in the second half, it was still a solid performance.
Offensive line: A
The offensive line had a strong showing from start to finish. They opened up running lanes for the backs, and kept the pass rush in check for much of the game. Granted, Duke was overmatched. However, it could have been just as easy for the Noles’ line to underestimate them. It was a great way for them to head into their bye week.
Running backs: A-
Florida State finished with 261 yards rushing. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman both filled in nicely for Chris Thompson. Freeman did have a fumble that hurt their overall grade, but he did top out with 104 yards on 12 carries. Lonnie Pryor added 32 yards on 6 carries. There may have been a little loss of focus in the later part of the game, but it was a good performance. It will serve as a great confidence boost.
EJ Manuel hit Rashad Greene on the third play of the game for a 71-yard TD pass. He put the ball right where it had to be and Greene did the rest. Manuel finished 8-16 for 282 yards and 2 TDs. It wasn’t his best performance, but he did what he was supposed to do for much of the game. I also thought he might have been a little too relaxed at some points in the game. A blitz caught him off guard at one point, and he also had a fumble. An extra week to prepare for Virginia Tech will do him some good.
Wide Receivers: A
Much improved from previous weeks. Greene came out focused, and made a big play very early in the game to get things going. Kelvin Benjamin continues to make his presence known. Rodney Smith had a big play that was ruined by a rare fumble. This was still a very good showing by all the receivers. There were a couple of rare drops, and that just comes down to focus. They will be better focused going forward.
Defensive grades after the jump.
While I hope that Duke’s starting quarterback makes a full recovery, it was nice to see the Noles’ D-line make some hits on the QB. Remember the days when opposing QBs just wanted to say they played the whole game against the Seminoles? They pressured both Duke QBs all game long. They played lights out from start to finish. Again, it was just another performance that will give them confidence going into the Virginia Tech game.
The linebackers are starting to really come together. Each week they are playing smarter, and they may really benefit in having this extra week to prepare for the Hokies. They need to keep up the good work and pay attention to the little things during their week off.
It was a solid day for the secondary. No interceptions, but they did have some pass breakups. Joyner had the best play of the day for the secondary. He closed in on a Duke receiver, and just as he was bringing the ball in Joyner laid a great hit. It did draw a flag, but those are the hits that you have to make to make sure the other team knows you are there.
Special Teams: A
Tyler Hunter got things going with a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown. He looked good for much of the game, but he still managed to fumble a punt. Does FSU have a guy that can catch punts? Dustin Hopkins continues to make big kicks. He will find himself in the record books pretty soon.
Overall Team Performance: A-
Instead of a sluggish start, it was a sluggish finish. FSU seemed to relax too much once they had the lead. The Seminoles could have scored at least 21 more points. Jimbo Fisher really wanted more out of his first team offense, and he gave them chances to do more but they couldn’t get much else going. EJ Manuel was still in the game in the 4th quarter. It was clear that Fisher wasn’t totally satisfied. Still, it was a solid game for the Noles, and they know what they have to work on going into a big ACC showdown with the Hokies.
Florida State has a BYE Week and then a Thursday night game in Blacksburg, Virginia against Virginia Tech. The Noles should be well rested for that one. GO NOLES!!!