(Reporting from the Rose Bowl for FishDuck.com is Football Correspondent Mike Merrell)
After noting the privilege of playing in the Rose Bowl, tipping his hat to Oregon, paying homage to his own team and expressing hope for the future, Florida State eventually got around to the nitty-gritty. “Starting slow against an athletic team like Oregon and Mariota wasn’t really good for us tonight.”
Florida State’s slow start — only 13 points in the first half — actually turned out to be as good as it got for the Seminoles. Four third quarter turnovers led to four Oregon touchdowns and the end of Florida State’s 29-game winning streak. During that win streak, it has been a Florida State trademark to come from behind after making halftime adjustments. When asked what was different about this game, Fisher responded, “It was the turnovers. It was different because, when turnovers come, they change momentum. Momentum is different than making adjustments when guys are driving the football. If we can put the ball in the end zone on offense, it can help our defense out in a lot of situations. Transition defense we didn’t excel at. I thought the end of the first half they (his Seminoles) were playing very well.”
Ironically, Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich, despite having his team leading 18-13 at halftime, didn’t have the same level of satisfaction. His halftime quotes included, “We’re not playing very well, not playing smart, not playing thinly enough.” Apparently Helfrich’s dissatisfaction led to the more effective halftime adjustments, because it was the Ducks who knocked the legs out from under the Seminoles in the second half.
At one point during the second half, Fisher appeared to have a bit of an atmosphere with FSU quarterback Jameis Winston. When asked about it, Fisher said, “The guy (Seminole receiver on a pass play) fell down, and he was trying to tell me how the guy fell down. He gets animated, but he’s not — wasn’t words… he always gets animated like that when he talks.”
Well, almost always. Last year’s Heisman winner was anything but animated in the post-game presser. When asked about what it felt like to finally lose a game after so many wins, Winston said, “It hurts badder than whatever you can imagine, but the good thing is we live to fight another day. We’ve got tons of great futures. No one likes to lose, man. I mean, losing is really not in my vocabulary, to be honest which [with] you, but we fell short today. Got to man up and go ahead and just get better every day. I just hope that we can learn from this because I ain’t felt this way in a long time, I’ve got to say.”
Asked about his fumble on a 4th and 5 play that led to a 58-yard return for a Duck touchdown by Tony Washington, Winston said, “I was just trying to make a play. I should have got the ball in my hands earlier. Just — it was just an unfortunate play, man. I never thought that I would slip, throw the ball backwards. Man, it just — it’s a very unfortunate play, but that’s football. It was fourth down so, obviously, I’m trying to compete, trying to compete my tail off to try to get us in a good situation, but just a very unfortunate play, man.”
Winston spoke highly of Oregon’s 2014 Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota. “He’s a fantastic player. Got to tip your hat off to him because he won the game. He led his team to victory. So that’s the most important part.”
Still, Winston wasn’t about to give the Ducks too much credit. He went on to say, “This game could have went either way, if you want to be — if everybody in this room just want to be real with themselves, this game could have went either way. We turned the ball over a lot. We beat ourself. Just be real with yourself right now. We beat ourself.”
When asked to react to Winston’s statement that the game could have gone either way, Oregon’s Washington responded, “…he has that competitive attitude, and I thought that’s what he was trying to present to everyone. I don’t really have much to say about it.”
The Seminoles came into the game with a feeling of invincibility and a belief that however the first half went, Lady Luck would smile on them in the second half, and whether it was by Winston’s heroics or by defensive adjustments the Seminole chant and the tomahawk chop would rule the stadium. Yet with 10:35 remaining in the game, it was the Oregon fans who were performing the chant and chop.
Before the post-game press conference even began, it was a Florida State media man who perhaps said it best: “All of the luck of the past two years caught up with us in one game.”
Maybe it was luck that caught up with the Seminoles, but it was the Oregon Ducks that went flying past them and left them in the dust.
Top photo credit: from Video