Friday, December 13, 2002
Orange Bowl notebook: Snoop
By Marc Connolly
MIAMI -- Anyone who watched the game saw a glimpse of those sad eyes -- the ones that belong to Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, who was forced to stand on Florida State's sideline after becoming academically ineligible last month after failing to pass his classes this fall. Needless to say, the No. 13 jersey that peered out underneath his black denim jacket certainly could have made the difference in Oklahoma's 13-2 national championship-clinching victory in Wednesday night's FedEx Orange Bowl.
"We certainly missed Snoop, and we knew we would," said offensive coordinator Mark Richt. "He's always been a playmaker for us. In a game like that, all it might have taken is one or two plays to generate some momentum and some enthusiasm."
As the unequivocal emotional leader of the offense, the passion and leadership he brings to Chris Weinke's huddle has been infectious all season.
"Anytime you don't have a player of that magnitude it hurts, but where we really felt it was mentally," said senior Jeff Chaney. "We missed his presence out there."
And certainly the 63 catches, 1,340 yards and 11 TDs worth of offense he contributed this fall would have changed the complexion of the game. With him out of the lineup, Oklahoma's secondary was made to look like that of a Pro Bowl squad, blanketing Atrews Bell, Robert Morgan, Anquan Boldin and any other underclassman Richt could throw at them.
"Several times there we needed some catches, and not having Snoop hurt when we needed them," said Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. "We could have used some of his big catches to save us."
His fellow receivers were also well aware of what was missing from their usually-potent aerial assault team.
"There was a tremendous void in the receiving corps that couldn't be replaced with any receivers," said Bell, who came the closest with seven catches for 137 yards. "We were unable to make big catches when we needed to."
Knowing that Minnis would be out of the game along with the nagging hamstring injury of Bell, Richt was forced to prepare for the Sooners differently than he wanted to. Rather than come at them with his usual no-huddle offense that simply wears defenses down, he was forced to slow the pace due to the lack of wideouts at his disposal.
"We just didn't have enough guys to pull it off," said Richt. "So, yes, Snoop's being here would have helped us as another playmaker but also as another body to shuttle in and out of the game."
Seizing the day for GameDay
|Missing Marvin Minnis could be one reason Florida State's offense never got on track against Oklahoma.|
After celebrating in the locker room after the game, the entire Sooner squad jogged back out to the field with camcorders, cigars and cameras in tow. Then they spotted ESPN's GameDay crew of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso and started chanting OU at them. It was a friendly mocking exhibition after some of the things Corso, a proud FSU alum, said earlier this week. It was all in fun, though, as several of the players took pictures with the crew and brought the Sears Trophy onto the podium where the crew was located.
One frustrated offense
Though FSU's depleted receiving corps dropped several passes and Chris Weinke suffered the occasional lapse, the real problem that halted the nation's top passing offense was what was happening on the other side of the ball.
"They played real passive. They didn't blitz at all, and they put a lot of people back in coverage," said tight end Ryan Sprague. "That confused us because we were expecting them to run the 50. We were expecting them to blitz a lot. We weren't prepared for it."
"They disguised as pretty as I have seen," said Bobby Bowden. "Looked like they were going to play a two deep. Then all of a sudden they would fly out there."
Where the damage was really felt was the stranglehold OU put on the Seminoles' running game. Four-year starter Travis Minor, who was thought to be an X-factor in this game, couldn't get anything going (24 yards on 13 carries) with the job linebacker and game MVP Torrance Marshall and safeties J.T. Thatcher and Roy Williams were doing.
"They whipped us up front on the running game and they whipped us so bad I would have never thought they could do it," said Bowden. "I mean, we had told our kids we have got to block their linebackers. I don't know if we ever blocked them but they get their safeties so dog-gone involved in it. No. 38 (Roy Williams) they got, he is nothing but a linebacker and he can fly. He made some beautiful plays against us."
And when they took to the air on passing downs, a sea of Crimson backpedaled down the field. That's the reasoning behind the 'Noles atrocious 1-for-15 third-down conversion rate.
"Getting eight guys into coverage decreases throwing lanes," said Richt.
The last time the Seminoles were shut out through three quarters of play was to Miami (31-0) to open the 1988 season. That's how long it has been since this program has been so frustrated on the offensive side of the ball.
"It was a nightmare," said Bowden. "Sometimes you wake up and you hope it doesn't happen. We couldn't get anything going offensively."
An overly busy month for Richt
With Richt being hired to replace Jim Donnan as the head coach at Georgia last month, he had an overly hectic time in taking care of his new transition and preparing for Oklahoma. Because of the stress he's been under and the time constraints, he accepts some of the blame for the loss.
"I wouldn't recommend it to anyone because it's an awful lot to try to get accomplished in a pressure situation," said Richt. "I didn't do a good enough job in getting the boys ready to play."
His ties now officially end with the program he's been at for 15 years, and he's ready to begin his full-time duties.
"It's very difficult to put it behind me, but the bottom line is that I have to," said Richt. "I have to put together my staff at Georgia."
Et cetera ...
Oklahoma won its seventh national championship and first since 1985 ... By completing 25 of 39 passes for 214 yards, Josh Heupel set OU career bowl records in completions (64), attempts (92) and yards (604). All three records were previously held by current Sooner assistant coach Cale Gundy ... Oklahoma's 13:06 edge in time possession was its largest of the season ... Marshall's appearance at fullback was his first career play on offense. Freshman linebacker Teddy Lehman also made his first appearance on offense in the fourth quarter ... Tonight's attendance at Pro Player Stadium was 76,835.
Marc Connolly is a senior writer for ABC Sports Online.