Twelve years have passed since the Seminoles last called themselves national champions, and Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium, they tried to prove that they were well on their way to seeing that drought end this year.
“I saw a lot of athleticism and they got some experience when the lights were on, but they have miles to go,” Fisher said. “They competed hard and we played OK. … It was the first game, and we hope to improve a lot because we need to improve a lot.”
Apparently, a seven-rushing touchdown, 600-total yard, six-sack, 69-point performance isn’t enough.
While the win eases FSU into what should be another blowout next weekend when Savannah State comes to Tallahassee, many will agree with Fisher and argue that the Seminoles are still at least two weeks away from proving whethern they are a national championship-contending team or not. In two weeks, their conference schedule begins with Wake Forest coming to town.
Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel said he was proud of his team’s outing, even if it did come against a lower classified team.
“I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if we would have been able to beat a [Football Bowl Subdivision] team,’” Manuel said. “I think we would have. We came out with a mission in hand and we came out and did our mission and did our job.”
Savannah State, which entered a game Saturday night against No. 19 Oklahoma State as a 67 1/2-point underdog, also is an FCS team. The Tigers had a 1-10 record last season. Murray State went 7-4 and is expected to be a contender in the Ohio Valley Conference this year.
FSU’s 69 points Saturday were its most since starting the 2008 season with a 69-0 win over Western Carolina.
The Seminoles wasted little time kicking off this latest campaign with a bang. It only took 11 seconds.
Fielding a punt following a three-and-out on the Racers’ opening possession, the Seminoles’ new punt returner, sophomore Rashad Greene, sprinted past and weaved around several Murray State tacklers on a 47-yard punt return for touchdown. It was his first career punt return touchdown, and his first since the departure of former returner Greg Reid.
“I just trusted in my guys that they would have the blocks set up for me and I just ran,” Greene said. They did all the work.”
Reid was dismissed Aug. 1 for a violation of team rules. Greene had three returns for just one yard in relief of him last season.
In addition to Greene’s special teams play, the game was defined, in part, by a prolific, run-heavy performance by the Seminoles.
Determined to prove to naysayers that they had improved upon last year’s poor rushing outings, the Seminoles were dedicated to pounding Murray State’s defensive line with their ground game.
A year ago, FSU ranked 10th in the ACC and 104th nationally in rushing offense.
On 42 carries, the Seminoles rushed for 285 yards. Three different ballcarriers had rushing touchdowns, including fullbacks Lonnie Pryor and Debrale Smiley and tailback James Wilder, Jr.
Pryor’s three rushing touchdowns were the most he had in a game in his career. They also marked the first time an FSU running back had three or more rushing touchdowns in a game since Dec. 2010, when former tailback Ty Jones had three against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.