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September 3, 2011

Defense earns shutout in season opener

No matter who the opponent is, whenever the final scoreboard reads zero points allowed it's a good day for the defense.

Florida State opened the season up with as 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday afternoon, the first opening day shutout for FSU since a 69-0 win over Western Carolina in 2008.

The Warhawks managed just 191 yards of total offense as FSU as their first three possessions were three-and outs.

"They did an outstanding job on defense," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We were physical. ULM couldn't get any runs in and I though up front we did a really nice job."

After leading the nation with 48 sacks in 2010, FSU started the season off with four on Saturday. Christian Jones, Bjoern Werner, and Cameron Erving were all credited with sacks while the fourth was a team sack.

Ten different defensive lineman registered tackles as the Seminoles got to see their newfound depth at defensive line for the first time.

"They had a great day I felt like," senior linebacker Nigel Bradham said of the defensive front. "The kept a lot of blockers off of us, I know that for a fact, and they made a couple sacks."

Offensively, FSU racked up 372 yards of total offense as quarterback EJ Manuel went 22 of 34 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

"It was pretty good, I've just got to relax," Manuel said of the season opener. "Just calm down, breathe easy. I had some pregame jitters, first couple drives I was a little jittery and just didn't sit in the pocket and deliver the ball like I've been doing in practice so that'll definitely be something to work on next Saturday."

After a slow start, Manuel found a rhythm as he hit Bert Reed for a nine-yard score in the first quarter, then found Greg Dent for a 50-yard bomb in the second quarter to make it 17-0.

The series before, Manuel hit Dent for the deep strike he tired to force the ball into double coverage to Reed in the endzone, but it was picked off by Darius Prelow.

Manuel got the ball right back after the interception as the FSU defense caused a turnover of its own. ULM was driving down the field, but Joyner intercepted a floater from Kolton Browning (11-for-19 85 yards), at his own 16-yard line.

After the game Joyner praised the defensive line for putting pressure on Browning to force the pick.

"I read the whole thing, got to see the routes develop with the pressure coming and I just went and made a play on the ball," Joyner said of his interception. "That's why I'm a starter for FSU and that's what I'm going to do all year."

The pick set up the touchdown to Dent as FSU took a 17-0 lead into the half.

In the second half, true freshman running back Devonta Freeman got into the action, running for 24 yards on seven carries and a touchdown in his collegiate debut.

In the fourth quarter the 'Noles got their final score as redshirt freshman Clint Trickett connected with true freshman Rashad Greene for a 28-yard touchdown on their first college snaps.

Down 34-0 with just under seven minutes left in the game, ULM tried its best to erase the shutout on its final drive. The Warhawks put together a 12-play, 41-yard drive the eventually stalled at the Seminole 39-yard line.

Despite the game being well in-hand defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was very animated on the sideline for the final drive as FSU tired to uphold the shutout.

"Coach Stoops does a really big thing, every yard is personal," defensive end Bjoern Werner said after the game. "Every snap is personal so we try not to give up any yards…We could be up like 100-0, he could still be like that. And that's why we love him. He's a great coach."



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