Seminole combo caused Notre Dame concern
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Jameis Winston-to-Rashad Greene connection was fruitful Saturday for Florida State.
When the Seminoles trailed 7-0 late in the first quarter, the quarterback and wide receiver responded with big plays to even the score. Greene caught consecutive passes of 23 and 33 yards to start the drive and put the Seminoles at the Irish nine-yard line. After a five-yard false start penalty, Winston ended the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to freshman Travis Rudolph.
Winston and Greene connected for a 10-yard touchdown pass on Florida State's first series of the second half to tie it at 17.
Both Greene and Winston extended impressive streaks in the first quarter. The score marked Winston’s 20th straight game with a passing touchdown, one for each game he's started at Florida State. He surpassed Chris Weinke’s school record of 16 consecutive games earlier this season.
Greene made his first reception of the game on the opening series for Florida State’s offense. The catch, a one-yard loss on a shovel pass from Winston, moved his streak of at least one reception in his last 36 games. He’s closing in on Rodney’s Smith school record of 39 consecutive games with a reception.
Greene expressed confidence in his quarterback earlier in the week despite the off-the-field distractions, the latest coming from a large amount of authenticated Winston autographs being sold by a memorabilia dealer.
“That guy’s a competitive human. He works his tail off every day,” Greene said of Winston in an interview with Seminoles.com. “I don’t think it has anything to do with what’s going on outside of that practice field, outside of these facilities. He’s just a hard-working guy. That’s my brother, and I love him. I see what he does every day so I can honestly say it’s the work he puts in every day that makes the result look like that on Saturday.”
Saturday's matchup pitted Notre Dame’s top wide receiver against a former Irish recruit. Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby followed Will Fuller to the wide side of the field for most of the first half.
Fuller caught only two passes for 12 yards in the first half, but a penalty on Darby in coverage of Fuller led to an Irish score in the first quarter. Darby, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior from Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac, jumped up with Fuller for an Everett Golson pass that sailed over both of their heads. But when Darby jumped earlier than Fuller, he held Fuller down with his left arm and was called for pass interference.
Four plays later, Golson threw a one-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Corey Robinson to give Notre Dame a 7-0 lead. It served a twisted form a revenge after Darby ditched Notre Dame near the end of the 2012 recruiting cycle.
The Irish thought they landed one of the top cornerbacks in the 2012 recruiting class when Darby, a four-star prospect, verbally committed in April 2011 during a visit for the Blue-Gold Game. Darby withdrew his commitment to Irish less than a month before signing day, when he formerly picked Florida State as his college destination.
Darby has lived up to the hype as the No. 2-ranked corner in the 2012 class according to Rivals. Darby earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as a freshman. He has played in all 35 games since joining the Seminoles and started his 21st game on Saturday.
Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett did not attend Saturday’s game because of a health issue. Trickett, age 66, has coached for the Seminoles since 2007. Graduate assistant David Spurlock, a Florida State offensive lineman from 2008-11, filled in.
• Senior running back Karlos Williams returned to the lineup after missing the previous game against Syracuse with an ankle injury. Williams entered Saturday as the team leader in rushing yards (353) and rushing touchdowns (five). The Seminoles played without redshirt running back Mario Pender, who was sidelined with an ankle injury. Pender scored four rushing touchdowns in the first six games of the season.
• Three Pro Football Hall of Famers served as Florida’s State’s honorary captains on Saturday: wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, linebacker Derrick Brooks and offensive lineman Walter Jones.
• Florida State entered Saturday’s game having scored 91 more touchdowns than its opponents in a 21-game win streak.