If there was ever any question that quarterback in football is the most important position in any team sport, the case was closed on Friday night in the FSU/Miami game. Neither Chris Rix nor Brock Berlin were stellar but Berlin did just enough to not lose the game for his team. The same can’t be said for Chris Rix.
Two interceptions and two fumbles are in the box score for the senior quarterback for the Seminoles. OK throwing interceptions is part of any quarterback’s stats line and the occasional fumble is also part of the position where you handle the ball on every offensive play. But with the game on the line in overtime, and his team needing a big play, Chris Rix didn’t give them a play at all. Third down and in the shotgun, Rix fumbled the shotgun snap that was admittedly a little low and left. A freshman, even a sophomore and perhaps a junior quarterback could be possibly excused for not coming up with the ball. But a senior quarterback who’s already played three years as the starter has to know in that situation that the most important thing is to catch the ball from center and get the play going.
Simple as that. Whatever you do, don’t fumble.
But that’s the MO for Rix throughout his entire career. He’ll make the occasional spectacular play, and then the most routine thing gets away from him. His personal history has been well documented, from missing a major bowl game for not taking an exam to parking in handicapped spots on the FSU campus. His self-centeredness is the stuff of legend in Tallahassee. And while that’s kind of fun to chuckle about, how it carries over onto the football field is not anything to laugh about.
Rix seems to become so enamored with his own place in history, either by what he did on the last play or what he imagines he’ll do on the next one that he forgets to just get the job done. It’s not all about the glory; it’s about making the engine go. It’s about driving the car within the speed limit sometimes so you have enough gas to go full throttle at some other time.
Rix seems to always be thinking, “What can I do to win this game,” instead of “what do we have to do to win this game and how do I fit into that.”
Maybe it’s just Miami. He does seem to be a little afraid back there against the Hurricanes. It’s not that he throws off his back foot against them, because he does that against Florida and any other team with a little pass rush. He just sees guys coming from all angles against Miami and gets paralyzed in the process. He might have some big games against Wake Forest, but it’s the contests against Miami that he’ll be remembered for.
Some of the responsibility has to be put on Bobby Bowden’s shoulders. For some reason, he hasn’t been able to impart a certain kind of confidence to Rix without it turning into a full blown swagger. And Mickey Andrews seemed to be playing not to lose while they were up 10-3 rather than going all out for the win. A lead late in the game is not something to protect in college football. It’s something to build on.
And make an important kick once in a while. The field goal block in the 4th quarter was one of those little things that adds up in a game and lets it go to overtime.
But Chris Rix could have done something about it.
FSU has good players. They’re a good team that will still be in the top ten and probably play in a major bowl at the end of the year. But they’ll still have lost to Miami. Again.