NEWS and NOTES: ‘Noles Defense Stands Tall In Second Half With Victory Over Texas State

By  //  September 7, 2015

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ABOVE VIDEO: Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher meets with the media following the Seminoles 59-16 win against Texas State. (Florida State Seminoles Video)

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA ( – Florida State opened its 2015 season with 636 yards of total offense in a 59-16 win over Texas State, which surely over-shadowed – to the masses anyway – a very solid defensive performance against the Bobcats’ fast-paced, spread attack.

In what proved to be a one-sided game, it was the Seminole defense which set the stage for the runaway second half with a thoroughly dominant effort in the third quarter.

FSU limited Texas State to eight plays, 28 total yards, one first down and just 3:33 of possession time when the game was, technically, still in doubt.

“I thought we played very well defensively,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I thought we got after them; played well.”

With 134 career starts returning and a hunger to make amends after a sub Seminole-standard 2014 effort, the defense matched Texas State’s fast pace and intensity from the start.

Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey

“We did well with keeping up with their tempo,” said FSU’s Jalen Ramsey.

“We not only matched it, but we excelled. We were able to get back to the line. We were able to get our calls in quickly – get lined up correctly – and everyone was running to the ball.”

The Seminoles led 21-10 at the break and quickly broke the Bobcats coming out the locker room. In response to forcing a pair of punts on Texas State’s only two possessions, FSU capped consecutive drives of 11 plays for 69 yards and 10 plays for 89 yards with touchdowns. Suddenly, the Bobcats were staring at a 35-10 deficit, which would only get worse.

Texas State finished with 300 total yards on 75 plays, but 129 of those yards and 28 plays came in the final quarter.

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Before defensive coordinator Charles Kelly began substituting liberally in the fourth quarter, the Noles demonstrated sure tackling with a minimum of obvious broken assignments. And while there weren’t a lot of big plays made by the unit, they largely avoided allowing them, either.

“The way we tackled, the way we kept leverage on the football…I was extremely pleased with the way our defensive football team played,” Fisher said.

Defensive Nuggets

· Sophomore defensive back Trey Marshall recorded the season’s first sack, dropping Tyler Jones for a 12-yard loss which stalled Texas State’s opening drive. It was Marshall’s first career sack;

· Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Giorgio Newberry recorded his first career tackle-for-loss when he dropped tailback Robert Lowe for a 1-yard loss in the first quarter;

· Senior defensive back Lamarcus Brutus recorded a career-high seven tackles, eclipsing his previous high of six (vs. Syracuse, 2014) in his first career start. He shared the team lead;

· Redshirt sophomore defensive back Tyrell Lyons racked up a career-high seven tackles, including a share of his first tackle-for-loss with Tyler Hunter, and joined Terrance Smith and Brutus for a share of the team lead;

· Texas State was just 4 of 17 on third down conversion attempts for the game and just 1 of 7 in the second half;

· FSU’s defense forced seven punts, got the ball back on downs twice and collected one fumble while facing 14 possessions by Texas State.

ABOVE VIDEO: Running back Mario Pender meets with after the Seminoles 59-16 victory against Texas State. (Florida State Seminoles Video)

Youth (New) Movement

From the official postgame stats, 67 Seminoles participated in the game. The breakdown of participants included 11 true freshmen, 12 redshirt freshmen and four others who made their Florida State debuts. Here’s the breakdown:

True Freshmen: George Campbell, Ethan Frith, Derwin James, Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane, Tavarus McFadden, Jacques Patrick, Colton Plante, Da’Vante Phillips, Josh Sweatt and Auden Tate;

Redshirt Freshmen: Demarcus Christmas, Alec Eberle, Ryan Izzo, Fredrick Jones, Derrick Kelly, Corey Martinez, Justin Motlow, Nick Patti, Joshua Peters, Brock Ruble, Mavin Saunders and Isaiah Smallwood;

First-Time Appearances: Kareem Are, Javien Elliott, Everett Golson and Lorenzo Phillips.

Old and New Involved in Takeaway

Touted freshman defensive back Derwin James came away with the night’s only takeaway by the Seminole defense, recovering a fourth quarter fumble. James was in the right place to make the play after fifth-year senior defensive back Javien Elliott – a walk-on placed on scholarship recently – dislodged the football from Texas State’s Stephan Johnson

First Time in the Paint

Three Seminoles recorded their first career touchdowns in the 59-16 victory and all three of those came through the air. Redshirt freshman tight end Ryan Izzo broke the seal among the end zone newcomers, reeling in a play-action pass from Everett Golson for a third quarter touchdown. Sophomore wideout Ja’Vonn Harrison was on the receiving end of the longest scoring play of the night, a 55-yard strike from Golson with 11:04 to play. Sophomore tailback and Tallahassee native Johnathan Vickers rounded out the scoring newbies, collecting a short pass from Sean Maguire and racing 24 yards untouched for the score.

Aguayo joins 300 club

Senior Roberto Aguayo tallied 11 points on the night, capped by his lone field goal – a 22-yarder to finish off the 59-16 win – and push his career scoring total to 304 points. He passed Warrick Dunn (294 points) to move into seventh place on FSU’s all-time scoring list and begin his chase for the NCAA all-time kick scoring record, which is held by former Seminole kicker Dustin Hopkins (466).

Odds and Ends

After totaling 74 passing yards in a run-heavy first half, the Seminoles passed for 296 yards and five touchdowns in the second half…Quarterbacks Everett Golson and Sean Maguire combined for 25 completions to 13 receivers – the most since 13 different players collected reception against Wake Forest last season…Kermit Whitfield’s 59-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter was his longest since racing 100 yards against Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game…when Texas State’s Chris Nutall scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:06 remaining in the first half, it marked the first touchdown allowed by the Seminoles in four season openers at home under Jimbo Fisher.

Inside the Numbers

12 First-time starters for Florida State, including seven offensive (Kermit Whitfield, Kareem Are, Corey Martinez, Wilson Bell, Brock Ruble, Ryan Izzo and Everett Golson) and five defensive (Derrick Nnadi, Jacob Pugh, Lamarcus Brutus, Trey Marshall and Marquez White)

11 Texas State is the 11th different opponent from the Lone Star state the Seminoles have faced in program history

1 Fullback Freddie Stevenson is the only offensive starter who was in the starting lineup in last season’s opener against Oklahoma State (there were six repeat defensive starters in the ’14 and ’15 openers)