Saturday, November 23, 2013
Five things: FSU vs. Idaho
By David M. Hale
It's the penultimate week of the regular season, and Florida State hosts Idaho in a non-conference tuneup for the finale against Florida. In their first two non-conference games this season, the Seminoles won by a combined 116-13 -- and it's distinctly possible FSU has gotten better since then, and Idaho is a lesser foe than either Nevada or Bethune-Cookman. That could make for a one-sided affair, but there are still a few things to watch for.
1. Enjoy the moment: For Florida State's seniors, Saturday marks their final game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Senior Day always offers plenty of emotions, but for a group that provided the fulcrum between the moribund final years under Bobby Bowden to this year's run at a national title, it's as much a moment to mark the program's progress as it is a celebration of their own success. In a game with few reasons for excitement, the pregame ceremonies might be an emotional highlight.
2. Get up big early: No sense toying with Idaho. Florida State should dominate, and with so many other off-field concerns swirling around the program, there's plenty of benefit for the starters to do some early damage then relax on the sideline the rest of the way. And given the concerns about quarterback Jameis Winston's eligibility should charges be filed in an ongoing sexual assault investigation, getting backup Sean Maguire a healthy dose of reps could be crucial down the road.
3. Get the running game going: In Florida State's first eight games this season, the Seminoles ran the ball on 53 percent of their plays. In the last two weeks, however, it has been 61-percent passing plays. That hasn't exactly hurt the offense much (FSU averaged 11.6 yards per play last week) but it has kept Devonta Freeman off the field. He has just 10 carries for 40 yards in the last two games, meaning he'll need to average at least 75 per game the rest of the way to crack 1,000.
4. Stay healthy: After back-to-back 59-3 victories, Florida State doesn't figure to struggle much against Idaho either, but that doesn't mean a major loss couldn't occur. With Florida, the ACC title game and a potential national-title shot looming, the biggest thing the Seminoles can accomplish this week is keeping everyone healthy. Everything is running smoothly, but a serious injury in an area with limited depth (receiver, quarterback, defensive line) could be catastrophic.
5. Finish strong: The second-string defense struggled against NC State, looked better against Wake Forest, and was solid enough against Syracuse. All that experience should pay off in the long run, but FSU would certainly love to see the backups look nearly as dominant as the starters have, and against Idaho, there shouldn't be much of a talent gap between the players well down the FSU depth chart and the guys at the top of the Vandals'.