Florida State Seminoles

Florida State quickly replaces Sal Sunseri with Brad Lawing

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It didn’t take Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher long to find a replacement for Sal Sunseri as the team’s defensive ends coach.

Hours after news broke that Sunseri would take a position as part of Jack Del Rio‘s staff with the Oakland Raiders, Fisher targeted and obtained the latest addition to his staff.

“Warchant.com has confirmed with a source inside the football program that Florida assistant head coach and defensive line coach Brad Lawing has been hired to take over as FSU’s new defensive ends coach,” Gene Williams reported.

The Seminoles might have even upgraded their coaching staff with this hire. Lawing isn’t simply one of the better defensive line coaches in college football. He’s also a top-notch recruiter.

Prior to Lawing’s two-year stint with the Gators, he served as Steve Spurrier‘s defensive line coach from 2006-12.

In his 23 years as a head coach, Lawing has developed 15 NFL defensive linemen. He’ll now get his hands on Florida State’s talent-laden defensive front.

(Photo courtesy of Florida’s athletic department)

Report: Sal Sunseri to leave Florida State for position with Oakland Raiders

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Sal Sunseri doesn’t stay in one place for very long.

Florida State’s defensive ends coach worked with three different programs since the start of the 2009 season. His longest tenure since the start of the new millennium came from 2002-08 when he was the defensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers.

Sunseri is prepared to return to the NFL, according to Noles247.com.

“Multiple sources have informed Noles247 that Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri is headed to the NFL and he’s taking a job with the Oakland Raiders,” 247Sports.com’s Josh Newberg reported.

The Tallahassee Democrat‘s Corey Clark confirmed the initial report:

Since his coaching career began in 1985, the Raiders are the 12 different organization to employ Sunseri. The coach’s longest tenure at any stop was eight years at the University of Pittsburgh to begin his career.

Sunseri will now join Jack Del Rio‘s new staff. His exact role has yet to be revealed, but his only previous NFL experience came in Carolina working with the defensive line.

It seems to be the perfect time to leave Florida State, too.

The Seminoles lost their first game in two years during the Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks. The team also lost its two most talent defensive linemen, Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr., to the NFL draft.

With Sunseri’s departure, assistant head coach Odell Haggins will likely take full control of the defensive line.

Sunseri’s family clearly supports the move:

Running wild: Florida State leads Georgia Tech 28-21 in ACC Championship Game

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It’s just another day at the office for this year’s Florida State Seminoles squad. The nation’s fourth-ranked squad got off to another slow start.

However, the Seminoles didn’t take the entire half to adjust like it has done numerous times this season. Instead of trailing at halftime yet again, the Seminoles came on strong to post a 28-21 lead against the No. 11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets after two quarters of play in the ACC Championship Game.

At the start of the contest, it was a different story. The Seminoles defense looked completely lost trying to defend Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack.

The Yellow Jackets easily moved the ball without even throwing it once. In fact, Paul Johnson‘s offense ran the ball 26 straight times and the first pass didn’t occur until the second quarter.

The heavy dose of the run game didn’t slow Georgia Tech in the least. They scored a touchdown during their first three drives of the game.

Georgia Tech finished the first half with 214 rushing yards. And it won’t be an easier to stop the Yellow Jackets in the second half after Florida State’s most-talented defensive lineman, Eddie Goldman, was forced to leave the game due to a leg injury.

Florida State might not have been clicking on a cylinders on defense, but it’s offense proved to be unstoppable. The Seminoles had four possessions in the first half. They scored all four times.

Like Georgia Tech, the Seminoles had their way when they decided to run the football.

Florida State’s offensive line dominated the Yellow Jackets’ defensive line at the point of attack. Freshman running back Dalvin Cook ran wild and led all rushers with 99 yards.

Unlike Georgia Tech, Florida State proved to be explosive throwing the football.

Quarterback Jameis Winston made the Yellow Jackets secondary pay during two breakdowns in coverage. Tight end Nick O’Leary and wide receiver Rashad Greene both grabbed touchdown receptions of over 40 yards with no Georgia Tech defender within 15 yards of them.

Winston sat in the pocket without fear of being touched and completed 12-of-17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. The final touchdown came with 30 seconds left in the second quarter when Winston found Greene open for their second scoring connection of the evening.

The second half now becomes a beauty contest for Florida State. It isn’t simply about winning to maintain a spot among the top four teams. The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes are absolutely crushing the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game. The No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs already won big earlier in the day. And the No. 6 Baylor Bears hold a two-score lead over the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats in the third quarter.

Florida State needs to prove they are one of the best teams in the nation with a strong second-half effort to win the ACC Championship Game.

Survive and advance: Florida State remains undefeated with narrow victory over Florida

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All the Florida State Seminoles do is win. It’s not always pretty, but Jimbo Fisher‘s squad continues to find ways to remain unblemished.

Granted, the nation’s No. 3 team needed a pair of missed field goals to survive against their rival, the Florida Gators, but luck has been on the Seminoles’ side all season.

Saturday’s 24-19 victory over the Gators is the fourth time in six weeks Florida State won a game by five points or less.

The continued poor play, particularly in the first half, raises questions about how good this Seminoles team is even at 12-0.

Florida State’s performance against Florida didn’t exactly help its case.

The Seminoles escaped due to a pair of missed second-half field goals by Florida kicker Austin Hardin.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, also isn’t playing near the level he did a year ago.

The redshirt sophomore threw four interceptions Saturday, which is a new career high (or low depending on how you look at it). It wasn’t simply one poor game that can be easily swept aside.

Winston’s performance over the past five games has been well below his standards:

After falling behind yet again, poor play from its quarterback and barely winning another game, Florida State’s status is tenuous at best.

The Seminoles will remain ranked among the top four teams for the College Football Playoff, but another potential national championship run doesn’t seem nearly as likely compared to the dominant team that Fisher fielded last season.

All of this could come to a head next weekend when Florida State plays the No. 16 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech came away with an overtime victory over the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs Saturday. Plus, the Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack is very difficult to prepare for even with a talented defense.

The ACC Championship Game won’t be an easy contest for Florida State, and that will simply fall in line with what everyone has seen all season. However, the program’s unique ability to survive and advance is all that matters.

Jameis Winston’s miscues slow No. 3 Florida State, still lead Florida 21-16

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Last season, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston proved to be the best player in college football. This year, the redshirt sophomore has been just good enough for the Seminoles to remain undefeated.

No. 3 Florida State leads the rival Florida Gators 21-16 at halftime even though Winston has very little to do with his team’s first-half success.

Winston is fortunate the Seminoles are playing a lifeless Gators squad. The reigning Heisman Trophy placed his team at a major disadvantage during the first quarter with three interceptions.

Each of the throws were poorly placed or forced into coverage. Each time the Gators had the ball on Florida State’s side of the field, but the offensively-challenged Gators couldn’t capitalize with a touchdown even when Winston threw one of the interceptions from the end zone.

Florida State’s defense certainly rose to the occasion, though.

After Winston’s third interception of the first quarter, Florida’s freshman quarterback, Treon Harris, gave the ball right back to Florida State. The difference between Winston’s mistakes and Harris’ was the Seminoles defense was prepared to take advantage of Florida’s miscue. Linebacker Terrance Smith returned the interception 94 yards for Florida State’s initial touchdown.

Winston finished the half 8-of-17 passing for 72 yards and a pair of touchdown passes as well as the previously mentioned interceptions. The quarterback received plenty of help from the Seminoles rushing attack, too.

Florida State ran the ball for 105 yards through two quarters. Running back Dalvin Cook led the way with 73 yards on 10 carries.

Florida closed the gap late in the second quarter when Harris found Clay Burton in the end zone after the Gators blocked a Florida State punt.

The Seminoles have been a second-half team all season. Poor play during the first half shouldn’t come as a surprise. Winston and the offense should be expected to pour it on during the rest of the game.