NCF Nation: Caz Piurowski
Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
Florida State (1-1) will have its hands full this weekend when it travels to No. 7 BYU (2-0) for a statement game for both programs. The Noles bring the speed, the Cougars have the discipline. Earlier this week, I caught up with FSU tight end Caz Piurowski to get his take on the game. Piurowski has become more involved in the passing game this year, and it has paid off for the Noles.
He caught five passes for a single-season career-high 111 yards in the first two games. Of those five catches, four have ended in a first down and three have come on touchdown drives, including his own 10-yard touchdown reception against Miami. He has already caught as many passes as he did in 10 games during the 2007 season and needs only four receptions to establish a new single-season personal best for receptions.
|Cliff Welch/Icon SMI|
|Caz Piurowski says the key for FSU beating BYU is executing as well as BYU has this season.|
Let’s just start with the basics. What do you see from BYU on film and how big of a challenge is this really going to be for you guys?
Caz Piurowski: I think they are a legit team. They are real good. Their biggest thing is they don’t make mistakes. They know their assignments. They play good, fundamentally sound football and make you beat yourself. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest key to us winning is not making those mistakes, us just knowing our assignments and doing what we practiced. I think if we do that, we can be successful against them.
How badly do you guys need this win, especially coming off that performance against Jacksonville State?
CP: It would be a huge thing for us, it will show the fans and us how the season is going to go. Obviously against Miami I thought that we played well. We just didn’t come out on top. Sometimes that happens. Against Jacksonville State we came out on top but we didn’t play well. Going against a good opponent will show us what we’re made of and show everyone how the rest of our season is going to go.
How did you guys react the day after, how did you respond to that? Some people (like me), were like, ‘whoa.’
CP: The biggest thing is we won. Obviously that’s the most important thing. Of course we would’ve liked to have played better and won by a lot more, but I still think we showed some toughness not giving up. Even though we weren’t playing well, we knew we had opportunities going into the fourth quarter and into that last drive. Everyone still had confidence. We still felt like we could pull it out and we ended up doing that. I think it was a positive that came from the game. Obviously we made a lot of mistakes, didn’t play near as well as we could have or should have. Some people were disappointed about that, but the biggest thing was we won. It was our first victory of the season. That will go a long way.
What did you guys learn from that game?
CP: Basically we learned it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to come out ready to play. Whether you’re playing BYU, Miami, some of the top D-I teams or a lower division team, it doesn’t matter. It’s still college football, and if you don’t come out ready to play, come out ready to execute, there’s a chance you’re not going to be successful.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
It's only June, but Florida State's wide receivers are working with a sense of urgency and purpose not usually detected until August. They're lifting in the mornings, running in the afternoons, and participating in individual seven-on-sevens. They're catching about 100 balls from the JUGS machine every day.
And most importantly, they're trying to stay on their best behavior.
"It seems like the receivers are trying to get into trouble, and it's not like that," said walk-on Louis Givens, who is expected to be a major contributor this fall. "All of us are good guys, but we get caught in the wrong situation at the wrong time."
Rod Owens was suspended earlier this spring for a DUI charge, and Preston Parker was kicked off the team in February for multiple incidents. Richard Goodman, Bert Reed and Cameron Wade are all facing charges for their involvement in an on-campus fight last season. And to top it all off, Corey Surrency was denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.
After making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this group is intent on cleaning up their image -- starting now.
"Our mentality is to set the right impression," said Reed, who added his priorities this offseason start with being accountable to his teammates and coaches. "That's what our main focus is right now. Coach wouldn't have recruited us if we weren't good guys. We're all good guys. We just made mistakes and we were making mistakes at the wrong time -- back to back to back.
"We're making too many mistakes and hurting our team, obviously. It's hurting us at the same time but it's building up so much it's starting to hurt our team. I really feel like it's got to be dealt with. The athletic department is dealing with things, and we're kind of putting them in a bind right now."
Both Reed and Givens insist, though, that the off-field incidents haven't put the Noles in a bind on it. They point to Jarmon Fortson, Avis Commack and freshman Josh Gehres as players who made significant progress this spring. Tight end Caz Piurowski should also have an increased role in the passing game, and it would help dramatically for FSU to get Taiwan Easterling back from a ruptured Achilles.
"I wouldn't say we really lost a step," said Givens. "All these guys who backed up the guys from last year are here now, and they could have played last year and not missed a step. The spring was really strong."
Plus, the Noles have Reed, whose 23 receptions last year leads all returning receivers, and Givens, who caught two passes for 33 yards against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Reed has bulked up from 166 to 178 and has made the weight room a priority. He said part of the problem last year was that receivers weren't holding their blocks long enough to spring a big play.
"I've been working hard in the weight room," he said. "I want to block, I want to get in somebody's grill. That's been one of my main goals, if not my main goal, is just to put on some more weight, knowing you're going to take a little bit more pounding being in on every play, and playing outside receiver, I feel like guys can jam you, so I have to be prepared for that."
The receivers have also benefited from the steady progress of quarterback Christian Ponder, who is entering his second season as a starter.
"Ponder is putting it on the money," Reed said. "It doesn't really matter who the receiver is. That's what he's showing us -- it doesn't matter who it is out there running the route, he's going to put it in your chest. It's up to you to catch the ball, and all of us guys can catch the ball. We catch 100 balls a day from the JUGS. We have enough talent to play."
Their talent was never a question. Now they're out to prove discipline isn't one either.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Hello from Bobby Dodd Stadium, where it is a perfect, sunny day and the Florida State fans are out in full force. A crowd nearing the capacity 55,000 is expected today. Florida State is planning on starting Preston Parker at wide receiver, unless he doesn't warm up well. He's got a deep thigh bruise and hasn't practiced the past two days.
A few changes in Georgia Tech's lineup ... Cooper Taylor will make his first career start at free safety (Dominique Reese is injured and won't play), and Nick Claytor will start in place of injured right tackle David Brown.
Here are a few keys to today's game:
Florida State's young offensive line against Tech's veteran defensive linemen: This will be the biggest matchup of the afternoon. The Seminoles will probably need tight end Caz Piurowski to help with the blocking. Georgia Tech's defense, though, is coming off a performance in which it missed 30 tackles.
Georgia Tech's rushing offense against Florida State's rushing defense: The Yellow Jackets are ninth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 236.6 yards, while the Seminoles rank seventh nationally in rushing defense, limiting opponents to 79.9 yards per game.
Turnovers: Georgia Tech needs to hold onto the ball while at the same time continue its knack of grabbing interceptions. Tech has only thrown three interceptions all season, but it's had a case of fumbleitis. On the flip side, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder hasn't thrown an interception in the past two games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
1. Florida State's offense -- After a touchdown-less performance in their home stadium last weekend, can these guys finally get something going against real competition? Will the coaching staff make good on its talk to use running back Jermaine Thomas more and Preston Parker less at the position?
2. Boston College quarterback Chris Crane -- After a tale of two halves against UCF, can Crane put together four quarters of better decision-making against an FCS opponent? Jeff Jagodzinski is trying to get Crane to understand it's OK to throw the ball away on occasion.
3. NC State's attitude before kickoff -- If these guys come out hanging their heads because they don't have their starting quarterback, or their best defensive playmaker, Wolfpack fans could be in for a long afternoon. If they come out like they did against East Carolina, though, we all should be calling that staff for a pep talk when we have a bad day.
4. Old vs. new in Lincoln, Neb. -- Bo Pelini, a defensive-minded coach, is in his first season at Nebraska while veteran Frank Beamer is in his 22nd season. Here's the problem for the Hokies: Pelini was the defensive coordinator at LSU last year when the Tigers beat Virginia Tech 48-7.
5. Old vs. new in Durham, N.C. -- Veteran quarterback Thaddeus Lewis will try to lead the Blue Devils to their first ACC win since 2004, and third-string-turned-starting-quarterback Marc Verica will try to pull the Cavaliers out of their slump in their league opener.
6. Skinner's streak -- Wake's veteran quarterback, Riley Skinner, has thrown 131 passes without an interception. He should be able to keep it alive against Navy, as the Midshipmen rank 104th in the nation in pass defense.
7. Clemson's chart climbers -- Running back James Davis needs two rushing touchdowns to become the school's career leader and quarterback Cullen Harper needs 46 passing yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
8. UNC's quarterbacks -- Can backups Cam Sexton and Mike Paulus combine to replace injured starter T.J. Yates against Miami? It's going to be tough, considering the quantum leaps the Hurricanes' defense has taken under first-year coordinator Bill Young.
9. Florida State's other team -- That's right, the one yielding about a half-dozen suspended players is back. The emotional boost guys like Dekoda Watson can provide, along with the physical one players like Caz Piurowski can bring should make a difference on both sides of the ball.
10. The Hokies' offensive scheme -- Coaches said this week they're looking at more spread offense concepts. Will that trend continue against the Huskers, and will it help quarterback Tyrod Taylor? Virginia Tech ranks 114th out of 119 FBS teams in passing offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
This was the toughest week to date. The hardest games to call were Clemson, Virginia Tech and Duke. Last week was my worst performance, going 5-3. Overall, I'm 27-9 heading into this week.
Here's what I've got for Week 5:
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Maryland 24, Clemson 21 -- Because of the injuries on their offensive line, the Tigers have to rely on Jacoby Ford, C.J. Spiller and Aaron Kelly. If Maryland can control those three players -- or keep them off the field by running the ball and controlling the clock -- they can win. Because of Clemson's injuries, the Terps should win the battle in the trenches, but their pass defense could bring them down.
Wake Forest 27, Navy 24 -- This could be a trap game for the Deacs. The Midshipmen have the nation's top rushing offense, but Wake has a veteran defense and Cool Hand Luke for their quarterback. Riley Skinner will be throwing into a pass defense that allows 176 yards per game.
Miami 31, North Carolina 10 -- Considering this is the season opener for UNC's backup quarterback tandem and it's a home game for the rapidly improving Hurricanes, the odds are stacked against the Tar Heels. Bill Young's defense will force UNC into turnovers and create a short field for OC Patrick Nix.
Duke 21, Virginia 20 -- The Cavaliers might have better athletes on their roster, but the Blue Devils have the better quarterback. What they probably don't have is much confidence against ACC opponents, but considering the sorry state of both programs, I'm going with the home team and the one with the better record.
Boston College 38, Rhode Island 3 -- The Eagles' defense should have no problem containing an FCS school that ranks 113th in rushing offense with 49 yards per game and Chris Crane should pass the test against a defense that has allowed 450 yards per game. URI has three straight losses.
Florida State 28, Colorado 10 -- The Buffaloes have to travel 1,488 miles just to be smothered by the Seminoles' defense in Jacksonville. The return of tight end Caz Piurowski will help the offensive line, and freshman running back Jermaine Thomas should help against a defense that held West Virginia to 3 of 13 third-down conversions.
South Florida 31, NC State 7 -- The Wolfpack will be without their top playmakers on both sides of the ball. Backup quarterback Harrison Beck has thrown three interceptions and two touchdowns this season while USF quarterback Matt Grothe is leading the Big East with 267 yards of total offense per game.
Virginia Tech 20, Nebraska 17 -- That's right, ANOTHER 20-17 win for the Hokies. Only because this is the Huskers' first true test of the season, and Virginia Tech has already proved it's a scrappy come-from-behind team. Plus, the Hokies have the veteran coaching staff.
OFF: Georgia Tech
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Clemson -- The Tigers are expecting ACC leading rusher Da'Rel Scott to play, which will force defensive coordinator Vic Koenning to load more players at the line of scrimmage. That, of course, will open up the play-action passing game. Koenning is looking for some sacks to come from his ends in this game, as South Carolina State's tackles blocked them one-on-one last weekend and the sacks came from the interior linemen and the linebackers.
Maryland -- Backup quarterback Josh Portis is doing the best he can to put the team ahead of his frustration over a lack of significant playing time. Expect some wrinkles in the Terps' offense this week, but it's unclear if Portis will play more of a role in it. "I'm still waiting to help the team out a little more with my talents, but I'm a team guy and the bottom line is you got to win," he said. "Obviously I'm a little frustrated with what's going on, but I'm here for the team. ... I'm just rolling with the punches."
Duke -- Virginia's switch at quarterback from Peter Lalich to Marc Verica has caused a small tweak in the coaching staff's preparation. Not only isn't there a lot of film of Verica, who started his first game and saw his first significant playing time in this year's loss to UConn, but he's also a different quarterback than Lalich, which means the Cavaliers could switch up their offense. So David Cutcliffe and his staff have watched more 2007 film, thinking that Verica's mobility and athleticism is more similar to former starter Jameel Sewell.
Florida State -- Playmaker Preston Parker has been working more at receiver this week and less at tailback, and that's probably how he'll be used against Colorado. That could open an opportunity for freshman running back Jermaine Thomas, who played well in the first two games, but watched the Wake Forest game from the sidelines. The running game should also get a boost from the blocking of tight end Caz Piurowski, one of the formerly suspended players.
NC State -- Defensive coordinator Mike Archer is tasked with simplifying things for freshman Dwayne Maddox, who is taking over for injured starting weakside linebacker Nate Irving, while at the same time stopping South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe. Archer is familiar with the Bulls from his time at Kentucky and said this will be the best offensive line the Wolfpack will have faced. He also said there is a misconception Grothe just throws it, and that he is a tough quarterback who gets hit, gets back up and scrambles. The good news is that after watching practice film, NC State coach Tom O'Brien told Archer that Maddox is "practicing like a starter now."