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Blitzing D keeps Louisville flustered

FSU harasses QB Dave Ragone in a perfectly executed plan.

By ALEX ABRAMS

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- One, two, three, hit.

The Florida State defense played a flawless game Saturday during the 31-0 victory over Louisville.

Led by two sacks from defensive end Jamal Reynolds, the Seminoles defense unleashed a blitzing attack that flustered quarterback Dave Ragone throughout. Ragone, who entered ranked third in the nation in passing efficiency with 181.2 points, was sacked three times and had four passes batted down.

"Our defense played as good as they can," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Any time you shut someone out, if it's 3-0 or 30-0 or 50-0 or 10-0, the nothing just looks good."

FSU shut out an opponent for the first time since a 48-0 win over Clemson on Oct. 17, 1998.

Despite playing from the shotgun, Ragone was forced to avoid FSU's blitz throughout the night. The defensive scheme disrupted the quarterback as he completed 24 of 44 passes for 207 yards.

With 4:41 remaining in the second quarter, Tommy Polley stepped in front of a Ragone pass and returned it 4 yards to give FSU a 17-0 lead. The touchdown marked the fourth straight game the Seminoles defense had scored.

"We kept putting pressure on the quarterback," linebacker Brian Allen said. "We knew they were throwing the ball pretty quick, getting it off kind of fast. We kept staying in his face and getting our hands up. That's the main thing, keep him rattled."

FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews designed a perfect game plan to put Louisville's offense in third-and-long situations throughout the night. With the defensive line in constant pursuit of Ragone, and the cornerbacks in tight one-on-one coverage, the Cardinals connected on 5 of 18 third-down conversions.

"When you put (an opponent) in second and long, then they got to come out and throw the ball through the air," Allen said. "I think that's to our advantage because our secondary is playing great football this year."

FSU cornerback Tay Cody shadowed Cardinal wide receiver Arnold Jackson, holding the All-America candidate to 27 yards on five catches.

Louisville had not been shut out since a 19-0 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 19, 1992.

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