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October 14, 2006

Sloppy Blowout - FSU 51, Duke 24

Game Stats

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Turnovers, penalties, dropped passes, missed assignments -- it was the kind of entertainment that proved television executives made the right call in keeping Florida State's 51-24 victory over Duke off of the air.

Outside of the several thousand die-hard fans who made the trek to Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, most FSU followers will have to read between the stat lines to figure this game out. And studying the stat sheet probably won't make a whole lot of sense.

"It's a good win," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Somebody will surely ask: What does this mean? We're 4-2. That's all it means."

The Seminoles put up 478 yards of total offense, but kicked themselves repeatedly with turnovers (three interceptions, a fumbled punt return), dropped passes (three on the first drive alone) and penalties (11 for 101 yards). Yet, FSU had this game in complete control almost from the opening minutes when junior linebacker Lawrence Timmons scooped up a fumbled snap and raced 36 yards for a touchdown. FSU's passing game rebounded after its bumbled first series and saw sophomore quarterback Drew Weatherford put two more quick touchdowns on the board in the first quarter -- an 8-yard pass to De'Cody Fagg and a 33-yard jumpball to Greg Carr.

"To go out and not execute very well could have been detrimental," Weatherford said. "Luckily we were able to bounce back. The receivers did a good job of bouncing back and I was much more accurate. I wasn't as accurate as I could have been early on. We finally just started executing."

Thanks to either dropped passes or poorly thrown balls, Weatherford opened the game with six straight incompletions. But he bounced back to complete 16 of his next 18 for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

The passing game was forced to shoulder the load against Duke (0-5), mainly because the Blue Devils decided to blitz most of the afternoon. Running plays, passing plays -- it made no difference as the Duke defense repeatedly sold out in an effort to make big plays at the line of scrimmage. It was a similar strategy that the Blue Devils used against Alabama a week ago.

"They knocked Alabama's quarterback and he had losses throwing the ball," Bowden said. "We were very concerned about that. The pass protection was very good because they blitzed so many people. Our running wasn't bad, but I had expected to be more consistent."

On the surface, the blitzes seemed to have a minimal affect on FSU's offense. With solid protection in front of him -- the offensive line did not allow a sack -- Weatherford had plenty of time to find open receivers down field. Most of those throws were quick-hitters, though he did look deep for sophomore receiver Greg Carr a couple of times.

"I was very pleased with a lot of what the coaches did," Weatherford said. "They put us in a lot of great situations. They have a tendency on third downs to 'house' blitz and blitz everybody. When that opportunity arose, we really took advantage of it. A great example is the last touchdown I had to Greg Carr. The coaches made a great play call. We had a built-in 'hot' route for a house blitz. It was a perfect call at the perfect time."

On that play, Carr had a Duke defender trying to take away the "jump ball" on the outside and he simply cut inside on a post route where Weatherford hit him in stride for a 35-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

That reception gave FSU a 44-17 lead and was the third touchdown of the day for Carr -- and his sixth at Wallace Wade Stadium -- and gave him 100 yards receiving on the day.

The score also helped erase a little bit of the ugliness that showed up in the second quarter for the Seminoles.

After FSU built a 21-0 lead in the first, back-up quarterback Xavier Lee took over the offense and threw interceptions on three of the next four possessions.

His second pass attempt -- a quick out route to senior receiver Chris Davis -- was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. On his third series, he forced a throw as the blitz came at him and had that one intercepted.

On his fourth possession, he led the Seminoles inside the 10-yard line before throwing an interception in the end zone with 4:25 remaining in the half.

At halftime, Lee was 3 for 9 for 33 yards and 3 interceptions.

"When you make mistakes, you really find out who you are and how you can bounce back," Lee said. "With success, people are going to look up to you but when you make mistakes that's when you find out who you are."

After giving way to Weatherford in the third quarter, Lee returned and looked much more comfortable in his second stint at quarterback.

He hit freshman receiver Damon McDaniel for a 19-yard completion on a third-and-11 and later found McDaniel again for a 14-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-4.

While the passing game dominated the stats, the running game did have a few big plays to help break the game open. Sophomore tailback Antone Smith broke loose on an 80-yard touchdown run to open the second half. That was not only the longest run of his short FSU career but the longest by a Seminole since Davy Ford scored on an 82-yarder against Clemson in 2000.

Senior tailback Lorenzo Booker had an impressive touchdown run wiped out by a holding penalty in the third quarter.

While FSU was cruising to a big lead, the game did take an ugly turn when injuries once again took their toll on the Seminoles depth chart.

The biggest loss was sophomore linebacker Geno Hayes, who hurt his right knee early in the first quarter. No official status report was given on Hayes' condition, but it's safe to say FSU coaches and players had reason to be concerned for him.

"He was not feeling good," Bowden said.

Freshman tight end Brandon Warren left the game in the second quarter when he injured his left hamstring. Warren did not return to the game.

Sophomore defensive tackle Letroy Guion (shoulder) and junior defensive end/noseguard Alex Boston (lower leg) both left the game with injuries. Boston did return to the game for a few plays, while Guion spent the fourth quarter on the bench in street clothes.

"It's amazing that it's all defensive guys," Bowden said. "We were down to three starting linebackers and the game wasn't five minutes in and you lose one of them. I've never seen this in my life. Usually they are spread around but this time it's all defensive people."



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