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There's no question that Florida State made a concerted effort against Boston College to pass the ball down the field. Long-developing routes were called, and not just for the taller targets in jump ball situations. The success of that approach was contingent upon one key area: pass protection.
If the Seminole offensive line looked solid protecting quarterback EJ Manuel Saturday in live time, it looked better in film grading. Florida State graded out at a season high in the offensive trenches, with no player receiving a mark lower than 82-percent.
Manuel said the line's play Monday "definitely" had an impact on his career-high 439 passing-yard performance.
"It gives you an opportunity to go through all your reads," he explained. "And you're not feeling rushed or anything like that, so as far as your accuracy, you can just pretty much step into all your throws and be confident in everything that you do."
Veteran center Bryan Stork likes the progress of the offensive line to this point, saying that each of his four line-mates are coming along at the same time.
"I'm really happy for the guys," Stork said. "Because I'm making my grades, but to see the other guys catching up, that's a wonderful thing. If we're all together getting the same grades, we're going to be competing every week for the (ACC) lineman of the week."
Head coach Jimbo Fisher praised the work of both Seminole tackles, pointing to first-year starter Menelik Watson as a "big difference" for week-to-week improvement. Left tackle Cameron Erving also received his highest grade of the year at 82 percent.
"No matter how you say it, if you want to throw down the field, you've got to have time," Fisher said. "You've got to be able to have time to do that
We didn't have any missed assignments. We played clean and we executed."
Rodney Smith excited to go home
After a team-leading nine receptions on Saturday, Rodney Smith is heading home to Miami to try and repeat that performance.
"I'm real excited," Smith said about playing in Miami. "I get to go home and play in front of my family members and people who don't get to come up to the games to see me play."
Smith is working on collecting tickets for his friends and family and scored two on Monday. When the Seminoles played USF, the Tampa natives were able to snag 20 or more extra tickets for their families, but the Miami game holds more allure and is harder to get extra tickets for.
"Just two (extra tickets so far), it's hard," Smith said. "Everybody wants to go to the Miami game. And there are other guys on the team from Miami who are trying to do the same."
Smith will continue to try and get more tickets for his friends who live in Coral Gables. They're nearly all Miami fans, but they can't trash talk too much, Smith said, because he's got bragging rights since the Seminoles have won two straight against the Hurricanes. His friends root for him, though.
"Oh yeah, they're on my side. I'm pretty sure they want us to lose, but they're happy that I'm doing good," Smith said.
Smith is looking forward to the game and to hopefully heading back to Tallahassee with a win.
"Give you a little bragging rights when you go back home, to be able to say you beat Miami."
Nile getting in the rotation
The Florida State defensive line has begun a more consistent rotation as of late, which coach Jimbo Fisher attributed to getting younger players more experience and relieving some of the older players of the burden of playing every snap in every game.
Nile Lawrence-Stample has seen more playing time recently after not seeing the field since the Wake Forest contest. The redshirt freshman played against Murray State and Savannah State and made two tackles, but came in late in the game in relief of the starters.
"It's pretty good to (be playing more)," Lawrence-Stample said. "I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with the way we run things and I feel good coming back from my redshirt year. And I learned a lot from that and from spring, so right now I feel like it's just all about experience on the actual game field now and taking that and feeling more comfortable being out there and just not really thinking too much about what's going on outside that and just doing my technique."
He entered the rotation earlier against Boston College and racked up a career-high four tackles.
"As I was out there more and more, I felt more comfortable and I felt looser, so that definitely helped with the tackles and it definitely felt good just to be back in," he said.
The defensive tackle said that he looks up to the veteran players on the line, like senior Everett Dawkins.
"All the upperclassmen guys help me all the time, at least in trying to let me know some things that I need to know about being out on the field," Lawrence-Stample said. "Coach Odell does a great job coaching me with my technique, but they just let me know about the game experience. I look up to Everett Dawkins a lot because he's just a technician and he does his job and never really complains."
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