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Seminoles quick start sets the tone

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, November 4, 2003

On their first offensive play of the 2002 Notre Dame-Florida State contest, the Irish went over the top of the Seminole defense and scored a touchdown on a 65-yard bomb from then quarterback Carlyle Holiday to graduated wide receiver Arnaz Battle.

This year, the Seminoles came right back and gave the Irish a little of their own medicine.

Florida State quarterback Chris Rix ran a play-action fake on the first play of the game, and wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe beat Vontez Duff in a one-on-one situation for a 38-yard completion.

That pass set the tone for a long day for the secondary.

“We had seen them do that before, and I don’t know if we thought they were going to do it so much, but that’s no excuse for the plays that they were able to make,” Notre Dame cornerback Jason Beckstrom said.

Rix finished the game with 327 yards on only 17 completions, and Thorpe had seven catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns.

The Irish came into this game knowing the Seminoles would test them downfield, but the Seminoles’ speed became too much for the Notre Dame secondary.

“They’re a very talented receiving corps, just as any other team has that we play all year,” Beckstrom said. “Today we didn’t get the job done; we didn’t make the plays that we needed to make early on. I thought we got better as the game went on, but it helps to have that passion and that intensity early on in the game.”

Unusual start

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick’s play calling has been the subject of many conversations of Irish fans this season.

Diedrick scripts the first 10-15 plays of the game prior to kickoff. He bases those play selections on the opponents’ defensive tendencies and how the opposition reacts to certain plays.

Against Florida State, Notre Dame came out and ran three straight pass plays to open up the game. Playing an extremely fast team like the Seminoles, one would think the Irish would want to establish a physical presence by running ball.

But that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t know [about the first three plays being passes],” Notre Dame running back Julius Jones said. “You might have to ask the coaches on that. I just go out and run the plays they give us.”

Quarterback Brady Quinn felt the coaches were just trying to “change things up.”

Irish still favored

Despite the 2-6 start to the season and being outscored by a combined 68 over the past two home games, the Irish come out as favorites for Saturday’s contest. While the actual betting line varies at different casinos, Notre Dame is about an eight point favorite to beat Navy.

The Midshipmen are 6-3 this season and boast the top-ranked rushing offense in the NCAA.

However, Notre Dame has defeated Navy 39 consecutive times, which is an NCAA record.