GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Florida State Seminoles hit the road for an ACC
showdown with the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles extended the nation’s longest current win streak to
21 games with last week’s 43-3 rout of Wake Forest. It was a welcome sight for
FSU, which struggled in recent weeks to keep the streak alive. It also
solidified Florida State’s standing in the rankings, coupled with losses by
powerhouses Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma.
Scott Shafer’s Orange opened 2014 with back-to-back wins over Villanova and
Central Michigan. The team has failed to find its way back to the win column
since, dropping three straight games, including a 28-6 drubbing at Louisville
Florida State has won six of the seven all-time meetings with Syracuse. The
only Orange victory in the series came in 1966. FSU recorded a lopsided win a
year ago, 59-3.
The Seminoles put up 475 yards of offense against Wake Forest last time out,
but the offense wasn’t exactly dominant in the win. Instead it was place
kicker Robert Aguayo who had a big day, hitting five field goals in the
The Seminoles have moved the chains this season at 458.6 yards per game, but
blowing teams out isn’t happening as frequently as it did a year ago en route
to the national title.
Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston is still under center and while he has
thrown for a lot of yards (322.0 per game), he has just eight TD passes
against five interceptions.
Who is playing at an extremely high level is senior wideout Rashad Greene. The
All-American candidate has grabbed 38 balls in five games, for 576 yards and
three TDs, averaging 115.2 yards per game. However, Greene suffered a
concussion last time out and is coming around slowly, making his availability
for the Syracuse game up in the air.
However, Fisher has seen progress in his health.
“Seems to be. I mean, he is still under the doctor’s guidance and he said he
feels very good,’ said Fisher this week at practice. “You still have to go
through the protocol.”
FSU’s ground attack has posted modest results this season at 133.2 yards per
game, although tailback Karlos Williams (353 yards, 4.8 ypc, 5 TDs) has the
ability to take over a game. However, he is unlikely to play this week,
nursing an ankle injury.
The Seminoles played their best defensive game of the season against the Demon
Deacons, limiting them to a meager 126 total yards and scoring a touchdown on
a fumble return in the third quarter.
Big plays have not been the norm for this unit in 2014, with just seven sacks
and eight forced turnovers in five games.
Linebacker Reggie Northrup, who had the fumble return for a score against
Wake, tops the team in tackles with 43. He is followed closely by standout
linebacker Terrance Smith (42 tackles), who missed the Wake Forest game. Jalen
Ramsey (41 tackles) and P.J. Williams (17 tackles, 1 INT) highlight the play
in the secondary, while Eddie Goldman (15 tackles, 2 sacks) and Mario Edwards
Jr. (13 tackles, 2 sacks) are the players to watch up front.
The Syracuse offense revolved around quarterback Terrel Hunt, so when he went
down with a broken leg against Louisville last week, the Orange had to change
gears. That will probably be the case for the next month and a half, as Hunt
is expected to miss the next four to six weeks with the injury.
Hunt not only led the passing attack for Syracuse, but was also the team’s top
rusher (307 yards, 6 TDs).
Expect the team to go young under center until Hunt’s return and that means
seeing a lot of sophomore Austin Long and perhaps freshman A.J. Long.
In lieu of Syracuse’s struggles offensively, Shafer has made a change on the
“I’ve made the decision to change roles to use our staff’s talents together
more effectively. Coach Tim Lester will call the plays and coordinate the
offense moving forward. He, George (McDonald) and the offensive staff will
continue to work alongside one another striving to improve our offense
together. George will continue to coach our receiver unit. Tim will take
charge of the play calling and the development of our young quarterbacks as we
move forward without Terrel Hunt as he works to rehab his injury. Terrel
sustained a fracture to his fibula on in the game against Louisville. He is
expected to be out of activity for 4-6 weeks.
“We are committed and unified to take the actions necessary to maximize the
talent and drive of this football team.”
The Orange would be best served to lean on a ground attack that generates
nearly 200 yards per game (197.8), utilizing talented tailbacks Prince-Tyson
Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore, who both are averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
On the outside, it is wideout Jarrod West that leads the way with 21
receptions, for 321 yards.
Syracuse is yielding 24.4 ppg this season on 370.0 yards of total offense.
Both numbers will be pushed to the limit this weekend against an FSU squad
that is itching to break out.
Still, there are playmakers on the defensive side of the ball that will make
things difficult on the ‘Noles. Senior Cameron Lynch is playing as well as
any linebacker in the country. He leads Syracuse in tackles (40), TFL (6.5)
and sacks (5.5). Sophomore linebacker Marqez Hodge (20 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3.0
sacks) has brought pressure as well. Junior safety Durrell Eskridge (23
tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR) must be accounted for in the secondary.
Florida State has won 18 straight ACC games and with Hunt on the shelf for
Syracuse, No. 19 shouldn’t be too hard to get.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 41, Syracuse 10