TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There was a little extra bounce in the step of the Florida State football team as it returned to the practice field for a business-as-usual day of work on Monday.
Of course, it marked the first Monday in three weeks that the Seminoles had a reason to smile. Quarterback EJ Manuel and kicker Dustin Hopkins had a lot to do with the buoyant attitude. Directing the Seminoles’ two-minute offense, Manuel drove the offense down the field at set up Hopkins’ 55-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired in Saturday’s 16-13 victory over Clemson.
The win kept FSU (7-3, 5-2) in the hunt for the ACC’s Atlantic Division title heading into Saturday’s game at Maryland (7-3, 4-2), in what amounts to a divisional elimination contest.
Not surprisingly, Manuel and Hopkins earned ACC weekly honors for their part in the victory. Manuel passed for 210 yards and rushed for 71 more in his first start of the season and Hopkins’ longest walk-off field goal in league history to cap a 10-point night, good enough to win the league’s top offensive back and specialist awards, respectively.
On the heels of the victory, which followed consecutive late-game losses to NC State and North Carolina, the Seminoles close out their ACC schedule on the road against the Terrapins. FSU needs a win to keep its hopes alive for a spot in the league championship.
· Starting quarterback Christian Ponder returned to the practice field and handled the bulk of the work with the first team offense. Ponder missed his first start of the season against Clemson with swelling around his elbow, but threw the ball sharply on Monday. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he expects the fifth-year senior to start against Maryland;
· FSU’s regular season finale at home against Florida on Nov. 27 will be played at either 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. and televised by one of three networks – ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The networks exercised their six-day option and will announce the time and broadcast network no later than Sunday;
· Fisher said the Ponder and senior offensive guard Rodney Hudson have been selected to participate in the Jan. 29 Under Armour Senior Bowl at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium;
· Log on to Seminoles.com for Monday’s press conferences with Christian Ponder and Jimbo Fisher.