I don’t know if Rex Grossman will win the Heisman Trophy, but he was the best player on the field Saturday night in Gainesville. The Florida quarterback did not throw for 300 yards, but directed the Gators offense with the precision to break the will of Florida State and did the things necessary to give his team a win.
FSU’s game plan was executed perfectly on defense, making Florida go through long drives to score points. The Gators, and especially Grossman, were willing to take whatever was there, move the ball downfield, and go for the end zone when they were close. That’s the sign of a mature team, a mature coach and a mature quarterback.
While FSU’s defensive plan was on the mark, the offense couldn’t hold up their end. Quarterback Chris Rix couldn’t match Grossman’s accuracy and field generalship, missing receivers on key plays and failing to convert for first downs. That left the Seminole defense on the field too long, and let the Gators dictate the game. Not to say that Rix won’t be good; he’s big, strong, fast and is learning, but he was not Grossman’s equal, and it was the difference in the game.
There were some things open for the FSU quarterback, but he didn’t take them, especially the 12-15 yard patterns. The Seminole wide receivers are young, and it showed in their performance. Missing Anquan Boldin for the entire season has hurt FSU on offense, not only with his physical talent at wide receiver, but as a player who was on the field last year, and could provide some leadership for a very young Seminole football team.
As for Grossman’s Heisman chances, no Sophomore has ever won the Heisman, although a few have finished second, the most notable, Herschel Walker and the most recent, Marshall Faulk. The voters are biased against a Gator Quarterback, unless he can’t be denied, a la Danny Wuerffel. “The system,” is what they credit for any Gator Quarterback success, rather than his particular talent. If Florida had gone undefeated and won the National Championship, and Grossman had performed this way, he might have taken the hardware home. But with the loss on national cable television and Eric Crouch and Ken Dorsey headed to undefeated seasons, Grossman’s chances seem diminished. Still, the voting is done before the first Saturday in December, so voters will have to make up their minds early.
Maryland’s dramatic win against N.C. State gives the Terps the ACC title outright, the first team to win the title alone since FSU joined the conference. It puts the Terps in the BCS as the ACC Champion, headed to either the Sugar or the Orange Bowl. Florida State most likely will be invited to the Gator Bowl, no matter what happens against Georgia Tech. Gator Bowl officials are concerned about fans’ willingness to fly after the attacks of September 11th and are looking for a team who’s fans can arrive by car. It will not have the economic impact of a long week of visiting fans, but the Seminoles seem like the logical ACC choice.