Saturday, September 10th, 6:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles are fresh off a stellar defensive effort in their season opener, and they are once again heavy favorites in Saturday's non-conference clash with the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
It is hard to imagine Charleston Southern entering this game with much confidence, as the club was dismantled by UCF on opening weekend by a 62-0 final. The Bucs are an FCS squad competing in the Big South Conference, and while games against FBS teams could help down the line, a second consecutive beatdown this weekend could potentially do more harm than good.
As for the Seminoles, they are looking to build off a 10-4 record in 2010 which included an ACC Atlantic Division title and Chick-fil-A Bowl triumph over South Carolina. Last weekend's opener was an obvious success, as Jimbo Fisher's team rolled over UL-Monroe by a 34-0 final.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between the Bucs and Seminoles on the gridiron.
Judging by the fact that the Charleston Southern offense failed to score a single point against UCF last week, it is obvious that the Bucs struggled mightily on offense. They finished the game with a meager total of 119 total yards on 51 offensive plays and were 4-of-15 on third down conversion attempts. Furthermore, they committed a pair of turnovers, and those mistakes obviously didn't help the cause.
Malcolm Dixon saw most of the action at quarterback for Charleston Southern and did little to excite his supporters. Dixon completed a mere 6-of-15 passes for 50 yards, and with the exception of a 21-yard completion, most of the connections went for minor gains. Richard Mounce completed all three passes that he attempted, but considering the fact that he finished with just 20 passing yards, he wasn't much more impressive than Dixon.
The Charleston Southern defense was completely overmatched by the offense of UCF last week, as the Knights were able to rack up a staggering total of 560 yards. CSU got pushed around all afternoon, yielding 316 rushing yards at a clip of 6.6 ypc. Against the pass, the Bucs permitted 17.4 yards per completion, proof that they were completely helpless against both means of attack.
"Our youth and lack of maturity showed up," said Bucs' head coach Jay Mills. "We played hard; we just made a lot of errors. We'll become a good football team and how soon that occurs, is up to us. We played obviously an outstanding football team that I really believe is a top-20 caliber team. At the same time, we did not play close to our potential. This was one of 11 tests we have, but it wasn't a final exam, we have 10 more tests to go and we are going to handle those in a mature way."
Florida State fans were eager to see how quarterback E.J. Manuel would handle the offense, as he takes over for Christian Ponder, who was drafted in the first round by the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Manuel was impressive versus UL- Monroe, as he threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-34 efficiency.
"The first few drives I had some jitters, but then finally settled down and sat in the pocket and delivered the ball like I do in practice," Manuel said. "It will definitely be something I work on this week as we look ahead to Charleston Southern."
Greg Dent, Bert Reed and Rashad Greene each recorded a touchdown reception for the 'Noles, while Devonta Freeman added a rushing score in the blowout. Florida State produced 372 yards of total offense, and Rodney Smith led all Seminole receivers with six catches for 78 yards.
Last week's shutout was the first in a season opener for FSU since 2008 and was the sixth shutout overall for the program since 2000. ULM finished the tilt with a mere 12 first downs and 191 yards of total offense. The Seminoles yielded just 99 rushing yards despite facing 39 attempts, and the 12 passes completed by the Warhawks averaged fewer than eight yards. Clearly, the FSU pass rush was a major factor in the triumph, as the 'Noles came through with four sacks.
Vince Williams paced FSU with seven total tackles, while Brandon Jenkins came through with a pair of TFLs.
"We were so ready," said Williams. "Man, camp seemed like it was forever. We had the three weeks and then the build up of the game. It was so tedious. It felt great to get out there and hit some different colored jerseys."
Florida State is clearly a contender to win the ACC this season, especially if Manuel continues to improve at the quarterback position. The defense figures to be strong all season long for coach Fisher.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 55, Charleston Southern 3
09/07 10:40:16 ET