Mario Edwards earned his first career start at defensive end in the absence of injured Cornellius Carradine and the true freshman proved his worth and showed Florida State fans the kind of play they will be seeing from him in the coming years.
Edwards made seven tackles and one for loss on a night that forced the defensive line to stay on its toes against a Georgia Tech triple option.
Coach Jimbo Fisher didn't name a starter in Carradine's vacated position during the week, saying that he hadn't yet decided whether to go with Edwards or redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry. Fisher ultimately named Edwards the starter opposite Bjoern Werner on the line and the decision paid off.
"He's physical," Fisher said. "That guy's going to be a heck of a football player. One guy goes down (Carradine) and another guy is going to get an opportunity in the game. I noticed him, had a big sack there one time on a critical play. That guy is going to be a heck of a football player."
Fisher credited the defense with being able to contain the Yellow Jackets' outside option.
"They gave up a few plays inside, but you're going to get a dive play or two, but the big plays usually come on the option from the outside, and we kept great discipline on having a guy on the quarterback, a guy on the pitch, and they didn't (get the outside option.)"
Edwards was responsible for holding down his right side of the line and playing what Fisher classified as 'assignment football.'
Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops praised Edwards' first start.
"I was extremely happy for him," Stoops said. "He did everything we asked him to do. Made a couple mistakes here and there, but overall, in that situation with that type of a team with that type of an offense, to start the first time and to play as well as he did-tremendous job. I'm very happy for him. He came through when we needed him to."
Freeman and Wilder run over Georgia Tech
Florida State ran over the Yellow Jackets' defense. James Wilder and Devonta Freeman led the charge on the way to 194 yards rushing.
The Seminoles got their running game started early and relied on their running backs for much of the first half.
"We wanted to (start the running game early) and we felt we really could," Fisher said. "You couldn't play better in the first half than we did offensively. We scored three out of the first four drives
scored 21 points."
Freeman started the game and ran for 59 yards on 13 carries. He scored the game's first touchdown on Florida State's first possession.
"We just tried to establish the run, run the ball, knock a little time off the clock. But still execute the plays and stuff, just go down the field and drive."
Wilder entered the game at the end of the first quarter and ran for seven yards on a first down call. His next touch came in the same drive and he powered through the defense for a 16-yard touchdown. Wilder has now scored 11 touchdowns this season and is only the eighth Seminole ever to rush for more than 10 touchdowns in a single season and is just the second since Warrick Dunn in 1996.
He rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns. His performance earned him MVP of the game. He, Freeman and Lonnie Pryor combined for an average gain of 5.2 yards per carry. EJ Manuel added 49 yards rushing.
"It's all about taking one play at a time," Freeman said. "We sometimes look past the play that is in front of us. We need to think about our assignments. James and I had to step up and get it going."
Mark Stoops likely won't coach in Orange Bowl
Following Saturday's victory, Jimbo Fisher said he doubts that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops will coach in the Orange Bowl.
"I mean, I'll be amazed if (Stoops coached in the Orange Bowl)," Fisher said. "I wouldn't expect him to. He's got to take care of his business. There's a lot of things there.
"If he wants to, we'll talk about it, but I'm going to be shocked because let me tell you something; when you first get a head coaching job you have no earthly idea about how much time and effort (it takes)."
Stoops confirmed Fisher's belief in that he doesn't believe he will coach in the bowl game.
"I believe more than likely I will not coach in the bowl game," Stoops said. "I don't want to distract anymore."
Stoops also said that he will help prepare the defense as much as he can and that he never wants to turn his back on this team.
"If I can help in any way
to help devise a game plan, I will certainly do that and help in any way I can, but I don't want to be a distraction to the players for another month."
Fisher added that he has some ideas about who might coach the defense in place of Stoops.
"(I have) some different thoughts and how we do things and we'll get organized and I'll get back on that trail tomorrow."
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