Defense Dominates FSU Spring Game
By Jenna Sweeney
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Now that the spring game is over, Florida State’s offense has some work to do before stepping on the field in the fall.
When the offense of the Garnet team took the field in Tallahassee this afternoon, sophomore quarterback Clint Trickett connected with Greg Dent on the first play from scrimmage for a 70-yard touchdown pass. The exciting offensive showing continued, as quarterback EJ Manuel led the team down the field and tied the game with an easy pass to running back James Wilder, Jr. Despite the quick start on offense, the rest of the game proved to be more of a defensive showing.
As the first quarter continued, the offense became much less exciting. Both quarterbacks struggled to move the ball down the field and failed to convert on third down. On the other hand, the defense highlighted their capabilities. The defensive line showed off their pass rushing ability and came up with a handful of would-be sacks. The physical linemen were not the only ones who got a chance to make big plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Towards the end of the first half, Terrence Brooks picked off a pass from EJ Manuel. Brooks took it 51-yards to the end zone to put the Garnet team back on top. The Gold team was unable to respond and the Garnet team took a 14-7 lead into the half.
As the game wore on, the offense continued to struggle against the talented defense. Overall, the quarterback play and offensive line play was a little disappointing. Manuel completed 28 of 51 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Manuel had moments of brilliance, but also had some instances of questionable decision-making.
Manuel’s focus on becoming more of a pocket passer was evident. Instead of making plays with his feet, he was intent on making them with his arm. Although he still has some work to do, Manuel showed promise. In order for him to progress, he will need the offensive line to step up and protect him more vigilantly.
On the bright side, Nick O’Leary shined in the spring game. Throughout the game, O’Leary was on the receiving end of multiple passes. His good hands and versatility will make him a prime target for Manuel during the season. Late in the game, O’Leary helped Manuel by making a spectacular drive-saving catch. His catch gave Manuel the opportunity to find Kenny Shaw in the end zone for his second passing touchdown of the game.
Although there were not many big plays running the football, James Wilder, Jr., Mario Pender and Lonnie Pryor all had good games. Their biggest gains came from screen plays and other passes. All three backs showed a great deal of promise.
Ultimately, the Garnet squad made more of the plays that mattered down the stretch, as they pulled away to top the Gold team 35-20.
Now that the spring game is over, Florida State’s offense has some work to do before stepping on the field in the fall. As a unit, they had highs and lows. The defense was impressive, and showed that they are still very talented. For the most part, the spring game showing was average, but keep in mind the nature of a scrimmage. There were good points and bad points, but if Florida State can work out the kinks then they will be very good in 2012.