The Florida State Seminoles honored former head coach Bobby Bowden the best way possible today; they played like some of the great teams he had in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bowden came back to Tallahassee for the first time since he retired from coaching, and got to see firsthand how talented this edition of the Seminoles is.
It wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Noles come out and play a little sloppy in Saturday’s game against the undermanned North Carolina State Wolfpack. After all, they were coming off a huge road win against Clemson and have a monstrous game against in-state rival Miami next Saturday.
Instead, Florida State jumped out to a 35-0 first quarter lead and never looked back as they routed the Wolfpack 49-17. The game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. With the game firmly in hand, the Noles played the second unit for nearly the entire second half and gave up a couple touchdowns in the process.
It didn’t matter, another statement was made, and this time, the defense led the charge.
NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell was back in action for the first time since the first week of the year, and he probably wishes he sat out one more week. The Seminoles’ defense made life miserable for the senior, as they intercepted him twice and knocked him around with a fierce pass rush.
Safety Terrence Brooks set the tone with a remarkable diving interception early in the first quarter, and later caused a fumble when he flew downhill and separated the football from a ball carrier getting to the edge on a jet sweep. Ronald Darby added another interception for a defense that looks eerily similar to some of the great defenses that Bowden had during his remarkable reign as the head man in Tallahassee.
The speed and depth of the Seminoles’ defense was evident throughout the afternoon, as the starters completely dominated the first half. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt rotated his players liberally, and kept his defenders fresh. The defensive statistics suffered when the second unit went in to start the second half, but they were still impressive. They held the Wolfpack to 6-for-18 on third downs and consistently got the ball back to freshman sensation Jameis Winston.
It was the type of defensive effort that Saturday’s guest saw for years.
What a tribute.