Florida State Seminoles: Grading the game

Grading the Game: FSU 55, SSU 0

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
12:26
PM ET
What can you take from a 55-0 game against a bad FCS team that was played with a running clock for 11 minutes then abruptly called for weather reasons with nine minutes to play in the third quarter?

The answer: Not very much. But Jimbo Fisher will watch film on it anyway, so we're pushing forward with this week's grades.

QUARTERBACK

Florida State scored 124 points in its first two games, so it's tough to offer much in the way of insightful criticisms of EJ Manuel's play, but we did note a few loose ends after the Murray State game that offered some minor cause for concern. It took just two plays for Manuel to provide a rebuttal Saturday.

Manuel connected with Rodney Smith for a 61-yard TD pass on the second play of the game, and it was all easy from there. His final numbers -- 11-of-13 for 161 yards and three TDs -- illustrate both how small an obstacle Savannah State was and how sharp Manuel looked in dismantling the Tigers. The only two incompletions of the day for Manuel were a drop by Rashad Greene and a ball he threw away while avoiding pressure.

What was most encouraging, Fisher said, was the fact that Manuel was in complete control of the game, looking off his first and second reads and finding an open man on all but one play.

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Florida State opened its season with a 69-3 win over Murray State in which the running game led a huge offensive performance, the defense looked as dominant as ever and the special teams provided the first touchdown of the game for the Seminoles.

But that doesn't mean it was a flawless performance for FSU all the way around, so we dug into the Week 1 numbers and handed out our position-by-position grades.

QUARTERBACKS

The most noteworthy moment of Saturday's game for EJ Manuel was probably his first-quarter interception, which snapped a streak of 128 straight throws without a pick. Of course, the INT was hardly Manuel's fault. The pass was delivered with precision, but Kenny Shaw bobbled it into a Murray State defender's hands. Shaw's blunder certainly kept Manuel's nuambers more pedestrian -- 16-of-22 for 188 yards -- but he also hauled in Manuel's lone touchdown throw of the game.

Given the questions surrounding the offensive line and the running game, it's not surprising that Manuel wasn't asked to do a lot as Jimbo Fisher tested his ground game often. But it's also worth noting that eight of the first nine offensive plays of the game for FSU were passing plays -- the sum total of which garnered the Seminoles 47 yards (5.9 yards per play, compared to FSU's game average of 7.9 yards per play). Manuel was also just 1-of-4 for 2 yards on third-down passes, and he converted just one of five third downs he faced in the game -- the lone conversion coming on a QB run.

With FSU rolling in the second half, Manuel didn't stick around too long. Clint Trickett entered in the third quarter and looked sharp, completing 8-of-11 passes for 117 yards, including a beautiful pitch-and-catch with Shaw for 40 yards. Trickett's highlight though? That would probably be his shoving match with a Murray State defender after Debrale Smiley's touchdown in the fourth quarter. Trickett boasted about bulking up in the offseason, noting that he was lifting weights with the linebackers these days, so he must have been eager to show off his new found moxie.

Jacob Coker also got in his first career game, too, completing 1-of-2 passes for 16 yards.

Overall, the FSU QBs were 25-of-35 for 321 yards in the game.

GRADE: B

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