Two minutes and 47 seconds were left in the game. Coach Jimbo Fisher called a run, a zone extra play, a go-to for the team this year. Chris Thompson got stuffed for a loss of two yards. Fisher called another run and Thompson made it three yards to the FSU 33. Third and nine came up and Fisher called upon EJ Manuel to use his legs. The QB rushed for no gain.
"When I started running, the (defender) came in on Chris (Thompson) and (he) wasn't able to get a good block on the guy, so I had to cut up sooner than I wanted to and they got the stop," Manuel said of the play.
Nine yards short of a first down, Cason Beatty trotted out to punt with 2:32 left on the clock. Beatty's punt was blocked and after NC State drove down the field, that was all she wrote for the 'Noles.
Fisher explained during his Monday press conference that he called Manuel's run on third and long because it was too risky not to.
"I felt very good about the calls going in-running the football," Fisher said. "We could say we could throw it, but then you have the possibility which we had had of a few sacks and blitzes that we hadn't picked up and then you take-you're up six points and you take a chance with your quarterback of him getting hit right there (if you throw.)"
Manuel got hit anyway on the run, but said he wasn't surprised by Fisher's call to run it rather than attempt to throw for the first down.
"I wasn't surprised," Manuel said. "That was something that coach Fisher trusted me to do and that's kind of our go-to play in that situation, granted it was 3rd and 9, but you know, if he calls a play, I trust that it's going to work."
Manuel doesn't mind being called on to run the ball, though he doesn't think that the offense needs to utilize more QB runs. In fact, like a true passer, he expected to throw more during the game.
"We didn't throw the ball as much as I thought we would have," Manuel said.
Fisher said that he didn't regret any play calling from the game and felt confident in the fact that the three runs in that sequence forced NC State to use up their timeouts. He also felt good about the defense's ability to stop what would have been a 75 yard drive by the Wolfpack, had the punt gone as planned.
"The key thing there I think was that the punt got blocked, which shortened the field."
Lobbing it to Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin is 6'6, taller than nearly every defender he will ever face in college. Defenders should have fits trying to defend a jump ball thrown Benjamin's way. EJ Manuel knows this and thinks Benjamin's height could be an advantage in the endzone for the 'Noles.
"(Throwing it up to Benjamin in the endzone) is definitely a viable option and I think that's something we'll start doing," Manuel said.
Benjamin had two catches for 48 yards on Saturday, but could have had at least two more, as Manuel overthrew him once and another catch was called incomplete as Benjamin fell out of bounds.
The receiver has two touchdown catches on the season, but has made a series of big plays for the Seminoles. Benjamin has 14 catches for 259 yards this season.
"I mean, that's a no-brainer, it should be," Manuel said of lobbing jump balls to Benjamin in the redzone.
Fisher noted that Chris Thompson, who had left Saturday's game shortly to get his elbow looked at, is "fine."
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