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Florida State makes quick work of Racers

The SportsXchange

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It took exactly one minute, 29 seconds and one touch of the ball for Florida State to score all the points it needed against Murray State on Saturday night.

And after a little while, the Seminoles' offense got in on the action, too.

Rashad Greene scored Florida State's first points with a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown and senior Lonnie Pryor added three rushing scores in No. 7 Florida State's 69-3, season-opening victory over Murray State.

Florida State (1-0) piled up 606 yards of total offense and scored seven rushing touchdowns for the first time in more than 20 years.

"(We've got) different kinds of backs and they all kind of bring something different to the table," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I think Lonnie's playing extremely well, blocking and mixing his runs ... I thought the offensive line did a really nice job - great pass protection - and we kept pounding that ball and pounding that ball."

James Wilder Jr. and Debrale Smiley ran for two touchdowns each, and senior quarterback E.J. Manuel began his senior season by completing 16-of-22 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown before exiting the game midway through the third quarter.

The Seminoles' highly-touted defense, meanwhile, lived up the hype for at least one night, sacking quarterback Casey Brockman six times and holding Murray State, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, to a paltry 39 yards rushing and 156 yards of total offense.

Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner got off to a torrid start with four sacks and five tackles for losses.

"I thought he was very average," Fisher joked about Werner's career night. "All that guy does between the white lines, when the light comes on, he can just play the game - rush, stop, bat the ball, plays the run. He's just instinctive and a heck of a football player."

Brockman, the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason player of the year, finished with a 19-of-36 passing performance, but could only muster 3.3 yards per completion.

Murray State (0-1) converted only 3-of-18 third-down attempts and averaged 2.2 yards per play.

"We didn't finish drives, but their defense is really, really good," Racers coach Chris Hatcher said. "They are as good as I thought they would be and maybe even better."

Florida State did not escape with only good news. Werner's counterpart, Brandon Jenkins, left the game in the second quarter because of a lower left leg injury. After refusing crutches, Jenkins, an All-American candidate, walked to the locker room under his own power but did not return.

Fisher said that Jenkins' X-ray was negative, and that he appeared to have sustained only a bruised foot.

Florida State went into halftime with a 28-3 lead, and the Seminoles spent much of the first 30 minutes answering a few of the questions that surrounded the program during fall camp.

Running back Chris Thompson showed that he's apparently feeling fine after returning from a broken back sustained last October. The 5-8, 187-pound senior ran for 32 tough yards and broke several tackles in his first game back, and the Seminoles' offensive line - which broke in two new offensive tackles - did not allow a sack.

"It felt great with all those guys - the whole front five," Manuel said. "I don't think I was pressured once."

Florida State also displayed some early-season sloppiness, first when a wide-open Nick O'Leary dropped a pass that hit him in the hands, and later when Kenny Shaw bobbled a ball three times before tipping it to defensive back Josh Manning of Murray State for an interception.

That gave Manuel his first interception in 128 passes, dating to last Oct. 29.

Shaw later made it up to his quarterback by diving for a six-yard touchdown reception in the back corner of the end zone with 29 seconds left in the second quarter.

"I'll tell you, what I liked about E.J. is that he slowed himself down in the pocket," Fisher said. "He's much calmer. I think he's reading progressions, I thought for the night he was very efficient."

NOTES: Coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game that highly-regarded freshmen defensive ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher probably will redshirt this season. ... Five Seminoles made their first career starts Saturday, including left tackle Cameron Erving, right tackle Menelik Watson, defensive back Terrence Brooks, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and cornerback Nick Waisome. ... Rashard Greene became the first Seminole to return a punt for a touchdown for the first score of the season since Tony Carter in 2008. ... With his two-yard reception in the second quarter, senior Rodney Smith extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 26. Smith's streak began Sept. 18, 2010.
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