Fla. St. Does Just Enough
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
MIAMI, Sept. 4 -- The University of Miami faithful who stood through a driving rainstorm not only got soaked Monday night, they got blindsided. Miami's defense pounded Florida State's offense for nearly three quarters at the Orange Bowl, but the Seminoles rallied in the fourth quarter to take home a victory.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Weatherford led two scoring drives, and Michael Ray Garvin grabbed a late interception to ensure No. 11 Florida State's nerve-racking, if not exactly thrilling, 13-10 victory over No. 12 Miami. The win allows the Seminoles to hope for a return to national prominence after a disappointing 8-5 season.
Place kicker Gary Cismesia connected on a 33-yard field goal with 8 minutes 1 second remaining to provide the winning margin.
"Our defense played well and kept us in it," Weatherford said. "Our special teams played well all night, and the offense came around when we needed to. I think you saw some perseverance that we learned from [last year]. This team has a lot of character."
Meantime, Miami's worst fears were realized. Missing four key players to suspensions, the Hurricanes' offense played solidly for just one quarter -- the second -- and mounted no threat when the situation became dire. That point came when Weatherford found his stroke despite getting no support from Florida State's running game, which mustered one yard.
Miami's running game, it is worth noting, put up two. The Hurricanes, coming off consecutive 9-3 seasons, earned just one first down and 17 total yards in the second half.
"Florida State really didn't do anything we didn't expect on defense," Miami tight end Greg Olsen said. "We just killed ourselves. We were really moving the ball well, but then things kind of self-destructed."
The victor in this game historically has gotten the edge in contending for a national title. But despite the marquee time slot on college football's opening weekend, both programs have lost some of their luster.
For the first time since 1982, neither program began the night in the top 10. Miami Coach Larry Coker, who fired four longtime assistants in the offseason, tried to summon consolation from the Hurricanes' similar circumstances last year, when they rose to No. 3 in the polls despite a three-point loss to Florida State in last year's opener. (They ended the season with two straight losses.)
"I want to just make sure the fans don't give up on this football team," Coker said. "It's a long season."
Neither offense, not surprisingly, looked to be in midseason form. They combined for a minuscule .06-yard rushing average. Weatherford completed 16 of 32 passes for 175 yards; Miami's Kyle Wright hit was 18 of 27 for 132 yards.
Weatherford, though, took command when it mattered.