Noles faceplant nationally on Thursday night

Thursday night football. In the driver’s seat regarding the ACC Atlantic Division. Explosive second quarter giving them a 21-7 halftime lead. For all intents and purposes, Florida State cruising.

Any Miami fan online perusing the message boards saw the commentary provided by Hurricanes fans.

“This is what we should’ve done to them”, talking about NC State’s early 7-0 lead, after forcing the Noles into a three-and out. Early on, Florida State couldn’t seem to get anything done, leaving Miami faithful wondering why the Wolfpack was taking care of business in a way the Canes couldn’t.

Over an eight-minute span in the second quarter, Florida State came alive, finding the end zone three times. Christian Ponder found shifty wideout Bert Reed on a few big plays while running back Ty Jones got it done on the ground. The Noles took control into the locker room and momentum was fully on their side.

Opening drive of the third quarter, Russell Wilson and running back Mustafa Greene marched the Wolfpack 68 yards on 13 plays. The drive took five minutes and gave NC State life.

Even more life came two plays later when Ponder fumbled as the pocket collapsed. Three plays later, Wilson’s legs carried him into the end zone. Six minutes into the third quarter, tie ball game.

Florida State’s offense sputtered and Wilson made an early fourth quarter blunder when Xavier Rhodes picked him off at the FSU five-yard line.

The Noles drove 59 yards on nine plays and on 4th and 1, from the NC State 13-yard line, settled for the 31-yard field goal.

Wilson bounced back from his turnover, driving the Wolfpack 70 yards on 13 plays, passing for the one-yard score on 4th and 1 with just under three minutes remaining. Tom O’Brien and his squad were playing for the win and led 28-24 with 2:40 to play.

Ponder and the Noles responded, going 63 yards on ten plays – the signature moment, a 29-yard pick up to Taiwan Easterling on 3rd and 5 from midfield.

Under a minute to play, 2nd and Goal, the game-changing moment. Ponder drops back, gets wide-eyed when tight end Beau Reliford is open in the back of the end zone and fumbles the fake to Jones. The ball pops loose, the Wolfpack recover and Seminole haters nationwide rejoice.

I’m sure some question the purpose of a Seminoles recap on a Hurricanes blog, but there’s a point here.

Three weeks ago when Florida State upended Miami, many of you were praising Jimbo Fisher – the same man FSU faithful were cursing a few weeks before that after his squad was thumped 47-17 at Oklahoma.

The Noles stomped the Canes early October at Sun Life, prompting many of you to put Fisher on a pedestal, talking about how less than one year in he had his team further along than Randy Shannon had UM. A number of you also praised Ponder while trashing your own Jacory Harris for poor play at times this year.

Swap out last night’s teams for the sake of this argument, replacing them with Miami and a division rival who will contend for the Coastal crown. Pretend it’s the Canes who rolled the Noles by four touchdowns weeks back, pushing expectations sky high with all the talk of being ‘back’.

Pretend it was Miami with a 21-7 halftime lead and pretend it was J-Harris whose first fumble led to an opponent’s score, putting them right back in the game. Imagine it was the Canes defense that gave up 21 second half points, while the offense only mustered up three.

Furthermore, pretend it was Shannon who didn’t go for it on 4th and 1 from the 13-yard line settling for the field goal and imagine your reaction when the opposing coaching staff “went for the jugular” and “played to win” when presented with a similar opp down the stretch.

Lastly, put J-Harris in the driver’s seat, leading the Canes down field and in position to win and then imagine him getting tangled up with Damien Berry while Asante Cleveland was wide open in the back of the end zone, anticipating the game winner.

It’s easy to talk smack and revel in another program’s heartache, or to praise them when they pull off a feat you feel your team should’ve also accomplished. But when you attempt to put your program in another’s shoes, tracing their mistakes and heartbreak?

Where are Cane fans on Fisher this morning and is it the same place they’d be with Shannon had Miami lost the same way Florida State did last night?

How does Miami faithful feel about Ponder, a kid Cane fans have praised in the past, knowing he’s a huge reason his Noles fell last night? As an unbiased fan, you can watch the Florida State signal caller and feel bad for him, knowing the pain he feels having choked the game away – but if it’s YOUR quarterback who made the same mistake? You want him benched. You’re trashing him ad nauseam on message boards. You calling for coaches to be fired and you’re deeming that style of play unacceptable.

What a difference a few weeks makes. So many fans ready to hand the Noles the ACC crown, sending them back to Sun Life for the Orange Bowl while writing Miami off.

The Canes sit at 5-2, momentum riding high after a win over the Tar Heels while the Noles are reeling from this recent loss.

On deck for Miami, very winnable games against Virginia and Maryland as the Canes look to gain more steam in their race to Charlotte. The ACC season wraps with a road trip at Georgia Tech and a do-or-die throw down with Virginia Tech at home.

Meanwhile in Tallahassee, Florida State’s win over Miami looks more like an aberration than a trend. Following the beating of the Canes, the Noles struggled mightily in a win over Boston College and after a week off, fell at NC State.

Next up, North Carolina, Clemson, Maryland and a rivalry game against Florida.

Suddenly there are more questions surrounding Florida State then there are answers. NC State now owns the tiebreaker, as both squads have a conference loss. North Carolina and Clemson will both provide a challenge for a team that could’ve lost some serious mojo with this last second loss. The Noles also have a few extra days to stew as this was a Thursday night showdown.

The Wolfpack have their work cut out for them as Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Maryland remain, making for a down-to-the-wire Atlantic race.

The moral to all of this? Don’t judge you squad mid-season, don’t write a team off in October, don’t feel you have everything locked up after one big win, let a season play itself out and have faith.

Maybe Miami chokes down the stretch and maybe Florida State learns from this and wins out. The beauty of this game? It all comes out in the wash and by December 4th, it’s reality – not theory.

Keep it all in perspective, Canes fans. Lots of ball left to be played – not just in Coral Gables, but across the nation.



9 thoughts on “Noles faceplant nationally on Thursday night

  1. Amen brother! I remember when Ponder go hurt last year, and I posted on ESPN that I had respect for the kid, his heart, etc. Some FSU fans were shocked a 'Cane would say such things. But, it's true. The man is a competitor..and sometimes when competitors try too hard, they fumble (literally). I agree with your article whole-heartedly! We WILL win out…and the VT game is our last major hurdle (unless GT decides to start playing better). We finally brushed that B-Davis monkey off of our backs! Go 'Canes!

  2. extremely good points that the Canes fans are somehow biased against their own team. Ponder had a brain fart but overall had a great game.

    Now, I don't want to get ahead, but which team (NC State or FSU) will pose bigger problem in the title game?

  3. I usually agree with a lot of the things you say and the the points you make are valid but…
    before the FSU game we were better looking on paper. We played a tougher schedule, have better players and even a more experienced coaching staff. Not to mention we had a sold out stadium. All the stars were in line to not only beat FSU but to destroy them on national TV. We were supposed to be ready!
    Despite the loss FSU, I'm sure FSU fans can confidently say that they still win out the rest of their games and possibly make the big ACC game. I love our guys but Virginia Tech always gives us fits and despite losing to James Madison they are still the class of the league. We will have to be flawless the whole game to beat them. We showed that we can do it for a half a game last week but can we do it for the whole game like we need to? This team is so close to breaking the threshold to greatness but when the pressure is on we seem to self destruct.

  4. I usually agree with a lot of the things you say and the the points you make are valid but…
    before the FSU game we were better looking on paper. We played a tougher schedule, have better players and even a more experienced coaching staff. Not to mention we had a sold out stadium. All the stars were in line to not only beat FSU but to destroy them on national TV. We were supposed to be ready!

    canesftw – I think you inevitably proved my point.

    Everything you just wrote there about Miami, Florida State fans could've said Thursday night going into the NC State game.

    FSU fans can 'say' what they want, but they have no idea what the psyche of their team is. Will this loss make or break this team?

    Two big games on deck and since beating UM, the Noles struggled against BC and lost to NCST. We'll see what Jimbo is made of regarding coaching his kids up. Dude got a lot of love for what he did to Miami but now with both the Oklahoma beat down and Wolfpack choke job, he has a lot to prove down the stretch.

    Regarding Virginia Tech, sure, they're the class of the league … but based on the topsy-turvy nature of the ACC, what is that really saying?

    Miami took Tech at home two years ago and Tech schooled Miami on the road last year. Back to Sun Life with the ACC on the line, most likely. Let's see where it goes.




  6. Stellar piece and great perspective, AllCanes.

    Any Cane who reads this and doesn't connect the dots, you're probably the exact type of fan it's aimed at.

    Very easily could've been Miami out there making those mistakes last night, so while everyone is tearing the Holes a new one or poking fun, see the point being made here.

    The team that lost to Oklahoma and came back to whip Miami's tail just played a sloppy game and fell big time halfway through the season when they were supposed to be past a game like this.

    Perspective that anyone can make boneheaded plays and can lose to a team they were expected to beat.

    Will be very curious to see how Jimbo gets them to bounce back with the Tigers and Heels coming up next.

Comments are closed.