- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The halftime speech at NC State was similar to many Jimbo Fisher has given. He pushed his team to come out strong, to drive a dagger through the hearts of the Wolfpack.
Of course, that didn't happen.
But Florida State's slow starts to the second half aren't entirely new. While the Seminoles have been decent enough in the second half, the opening drives of the third quarter have been problematic.
Florida State has received the second-half kickoff in each of its last four games, and it has punted on all four occasions.
“I don’t know what can be changed," EJ Manuel said. "Maybe we come out with some different types of plays, something to get our juices following, get us back moving and gets us back into a rhythm."
Manuel's call for more of an up-tempo approach is reasonable. Of the 16 plays FSU has run on its opening drives of the second half in the last four games, seven were runs. Those plays netted a total of 4 yards, with none going for more than 3.
But the passing game hasn't been significantly better. Manuel has completed just 4 of 9 throws for 40 yards -- the longest a 13-yard reception.
This week, Fisher worked with his team on resuming play with more energy, and Manuel said he's hopeful they've found an answer.
"That is an important drive, get that ball in the second half to kind of set the momentum and take the momentum away from their crowd," Manuel said. "That is definitely an opportunity we need to take advantage of.”
Watson ready: After missing last week's game with flu symptoms, Menelik Watson appears ready to return to action against Boston College.
Watson went through a full practice Thursday, Fisher said, and appears to be over the symptoms.
"He went the whole day, which is good," Fisher said. "The lingering affects are better. But we also got work for [Daniel] Glauser and Bobby Hart, which is good."
Watson has missed two games this season, and Glauser has started both in his place. In those games, FSU has allowed seven sacks. In the four games with Watson at right tackle, the Seminoles have allowed just three.
That's pushed Hart back into the mix at the position. After starting the final eight games of the season there a year ago, he was shuffled down the depth chart this spring and has spent most of the fall working at guard. Fisher moved him back to tackle Monday and he's been getting regular reps there all week.
The knock on Hart this spring surrounded his maturity, but center Bryan Stork said that's changed gradually this fall.
"He's a year older now, and I can see that in him," Stork said. "He knows his place inside and out, and it's good to have somebody out there who, even though he's young, he's very intelligent."
Injury updates: Defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell (back) has begun practicing with the team again, but he's still not close to returning to action. Offensive lineman Garrett Faircloth (hip) is out for Saturday's game. Lineman Daniel Foose (back) has been ruled out for the season.
2dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon