Tag: Florida State

Stanford v Notre Dame

Golson set to challenge Seminole defense


It’s clear that Florida State’s defense is showing the appropriate respect for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Just look at who they’re comparing him to.

“I think the only guy I can compare him to is Nick Marshall,” Seminoles defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said this week, according to Noles247. “He can run, he is fast, and he can throw. We definitely need to be assignment sound and stay in our gaps. Don’t give him lanes to run out of.”

Comparing Golson to Auburn’s fleet-footed quarterback might be giving a little bit too much credit to Golson’s top-end speed. While he’s elusive enough to wreak havoc extending plays outside the pocket, his jets once he gets outside the pocket don’t necessarily matchup with Marshall.

But Golson’s ability to throw the football once on the edge, and do so with efficiency, is a challenge that the Seminoles must show they’re able to stop, and something he does better than Gus Malzahn’s trigger-man. So while Golson and the Irish’s challenge to beat the Seminoles with his arm is daunting, this isn’t the 2013 FSU defense they’re facing. After being one of the most statistically dominant groups in the country last season, Florida State’s unit is still growing into their jobs.

Those struggles were on display when North Carolina State jumped to an early lead as they scored 24 first-quarter points and 41 in all behind quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The junior quarterback put up his best numbers of the year against Florida State, completing 32 of 48 throws for 359 yards and three touchdowns, the only game all season he’s crossed the 300-yard barrier. Brissett also kept the Seminoles defense honest with his feet, running for 38 yards, most coming on a 36-yard scamper. The Wolfpack didn’t pull off the upset, but they did sound a few alarms and lay a blueprint for attacking the defending champs.


Strategically, how Kelly deploys his quarterback will be interesting. While fumble-itis has hit Golson at the wrong time, the quarterback still is likely the Irish’s most difficult to defend running matchup. Thinking back to Notre Dame’s upset of Oklahoma, it was Golson who had his number called multiple times to convert critical third downs. It was the quarterback run that was utilized to exploit holes in the Sooner defense that the Irish coaching staff identified on tape.

Golson will be asked to do much more on Saturday than he was two seasons ago, a game that Notre Dame dominated thanks to seizing opportunities, playing great defense and hitting the big play when they needed it. And with Jameis Winston having never been held below 34 points as a starting quarterback, Golson will need to make sure he lights up the scoreboard.

Against the Seminoles’ impressive personnel, that won’t be easy. But after battling a difficult scheme two weeks ago against Stanford, the challenges won’t be as much Xs and Os, but, as Jimmy Johnson used to say, the Jimmys and the Joes.

“This will be probably the least complex defense (Golson) will see. What you see is what you get,” Kelly said, according to Nicole Auerbach at USA Today. “They can afford to say, ‘This is what I’ve got, come and beat me.’

“They’re big. They’re physical. They’re fast on the edge. They can play man-to-man coverage. It allows them to not be put in compromising situations as much, with formations and tempo and things like that.”

Sounds like the type of challenge you expect when two top-five teams face off. And a challenge that will stress both the Irish and the Seminoles.


Kelly excited for the opportunity to play Florida State (VIDEO)

North Carolina v Notre Dame

While off-the-field issues have stolen plenty of headlines lately for both programs, Notre Dame and Florida State meet in a battle of Top Five teams that has the makings of a game of the year candidate.

For the Irish, stopping Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is key. For the Seminoles, finding a way to keep Everett Golson and the Irish offense in check will be no easier.

On Tuesday, Brian Kelly talked about the challenge ahead — and the progress made — as his team prepares to head to Tallahassee and take on the defending national champions.

“That’s how you’re measured as a program when you’re talking Top Five teams,” Kelly said.  “Those are the games that you want to win, certainly. But I think before I got here I don’t know that we had a top 25 win so we’re moving up the ladder and certainly want to get to that point where we’re talking about beating Top 5 teams.”

Here are a few other personnel notes of interest:

At the safety position, Notre Dame is preparing freshman Drue Tranquill as the third safety in and Matthias Farley will be an emergency fourth option, while also playing his primary role as nickel back.

Behind starters Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate, it’s key that the safety position stays healthy moving forward, especially after losing Austin Collinsworth, whose MRI is taking place Tuesday afternoon, Nicky Baratti, and suspended safety Eilar Hardy.

“Those would be the four safeties,” Kelly confirmed. “We don’t have anybody else at this point.”


Kelly called Florida State’s offensive line one of the finest units in college football. That presents a significant challenge for the young defensive line of the Irish, coming off a week where they were unable to sack Marquise Williams. But Kelly was asked about sophomore Isaac Rochell, who made two consecutive tackles-for-loss and has stepped capably into a starting spot with Ishaq Williams held out this season.

Rochell has been excellent as a strongside defensive end, and also has the ability to shift inside to defensive tackle if needed.

“We love where he is because of what he can do and holding the point in our defense,” Kelly said of Rochell. “He can move inside as a pass‑rusher on third down, and that’s what he’s really doing. I think he can do both for us.. I think on first and second down he can be an outstanding defender for us on the edge of our defense.  And I think on third down he can move inside and be a guy that can really push the depth of the pocket for us.”


Notre Dame hasn’t faced Florida State since the Champs Sports Bowl at the end of the 2011 season, when the Irish gave up 15 fourth-quarter points to lose 18-14. So while nobody playing on Saturday had any experience playing in that game, cornerback Cody Riggs has faced the Seminoles each of the past four seasons.

Kelly joked about an interaction he had with his veteran cornerback earlier this morning.

“I saw him coming in this morning and it was dark out and I didn’t know who it was when we were coming in,” Kelly said. “And when I got to the door I saw it was Cody.  I said, ‘Cody we’re playing Florida State. Those guys are big, and they’re strong, and really fast. Are you scared?’

“He goes, ‘Coach, I’ve played them the last four years, so I’m not really scared.’ So he said he wasn’t scared. I think he’s all right.”



Despite the distractions, Winston plans to play against Notre Dame

Wake Forest v Florida State

Amidst a university disciplinary hearing and two damning media reports from Fox Sports and the New York Times, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has no intention of doing anything but playing football next weekend.

The returning Heisman Trophy winner might have storm clouds surrounding him, but he says he’ll be on the field in Doak Campbell Stadium next weekend.

“Of course,” Winston responded when asked about playing in Saturday’s showdown.

That decision could fly in the face of the best legal advice, with Winston’s disciplinary hearing at the university potentially opening him back up to charges for an alleged rape. Sports Illustrated legal writer Michael McCann lays out a pretty compelling argument for Winston dropping out of FSU all together.

Winston’s participation in the university’s disciplinary process would carry great legal risk for him. A university disciplinary hearing would involve both fact-finding and testimony. Law enforcement or attorneys for Winston’s accuser could later attempt to subpoena these materials and use them against Winston. While a finding that Winston violated university rules would not mean that he broke any laws, the finding would likely be admissible evidence in a prosecution or civil litigation.

As noted above, Winston could still face criminal charges until 2017. Winston was only investigated for criminal conduct and not tried, meaning the Double Jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment does not protect him from being charged and tried. Winston thus has an incentive to prevent any new facts or testimony from emerging that might persuade a prosecutor or a grand jury to take a second look at what happened.

Winston played the entire 2013 season with the accusation pending, though the state attorney’s office deciding not to press charges. State Attorney Willie Meggs talked about the broken legal process with Fox Sports, a damning critique of the Tallahassee Police Department as well as Florida State’s administration and police department, who seemingly prioritized protecting Winston more than the truth.

That’s not all that seems to be trailing Winston. Just days after Todd Gurley was taken off the field for allegedly accepting money and other improper benefits for signatures, the same memorabilia collector that had hundreds of Gurley items on sale also had over 100 on sale from Winston.



Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher defended Winston when asked about the memorabilia in question.

“Kids sign things all the time,” Fisher told ESPN. “So what do you want them to do, stop signing stuff? We could make them not have any fans from that standpoint and not sign for anybody. That’s what it’s going to come to, and that’s a shame for college football that we can’t take a kid, somebody exploits a kid. Now, if they’re getting paid for it, then I don’t have any knowledge of that. I don’t believe Jameis did.”

That Fisher takes such a pollyanna approach to the behavior of his star quarterback is hardly surprising. It was Fisher who decided to suspend Winston for a half of football after the quarterback shouted an obscene, sexual profanity from a table top inside the student union, only to have the university extend the suspension to a full game. Add that to the heisted crab legs and multiple legal tussles after pellet-gun incidents and Fisher has backed himself into a corner with his star quarterback.

Through half a season, Winston hasn’t played like a Heisman Trophy winner. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder is still a dangerous weapon with both his arm and legs, but after completing nearly 67 percent of his passes for 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, Winston has thrown just 11 touchdowns so far this season with five interceptions, though he is completing 70 percent of his attempts.

But even as chaos envelopes Winston, he’s hitting his stride on the field. He completed 30 of 36 passes for 317 yards against Syracuse, throwing for three touchdowns in a 38-20 victory. All that leading to the biggest game on the Seminoles’ calendar.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Winston said. “It’s finally here. You can’t say that we’re taking it day-by-day, so it’s finally here. Notre Dame has a great football team, but we’re still Florida State, we’re not looking to lose.”