Not bad for an old guy.
Chris Weinke did more than stand back in the pocket and throw touchdown passes: The 28-year-old quarterback ran, blocked and even knocked over the opposing coach as No. 2 Florida State opened defense of its national title with a 29-3 victory over BYU in Saturday night’s Pigskin Classic.
Weinke wasn’t his usual accurate self, but he hit on 32 of 50 passes — both career highs— for 318 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 21 yards — the longest of his career — to set up a third score, a 6-yard double reverse in which he threw the key block.
“We did some good things, but we had a couple of missed field goals, a couple of missed opportunities,” said the 6-foot-5, slimmed-down-to-229-pound Weinke. ‘We know we could have gotten more points but you can’t be disappointed when you win. We know we have some more work to do.”
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, in gaining career win No. 305, said the offense was inconsistent, but praised the defense, which lost many of its stars from last season’s title team.
“The game surprised me,” Bowden said. “I thought it would be a high-scoring game since our offense performed so well leading up to the game. Our defense had struggled all preseason, But our defense played just beautifully.”
Anchored by defensive end Jamal Reynolds, who caused a safety and had two sacks, the Seminoles intercepted three passes, recovered a fumble and totaled five sacks against BYU quarterbacks Bret Engemann and Charlie Peterson.
The Cougars had 79 yards in the first half—minus-13 rushing - and finished with 225 total yards.
“They’re incredible,” said Engemann, who was 12 of 28 for 139 yards and two interceptions. “If they don’t win the championship again this year, I’ll be surprised.”
Rips Running Game, Kicker
Bowden isn’t as confident. He criticized his team’s running game, which produced 57 yards; and his kicker, Matt Munyon, who missed two field goals and an extra point.
“What needs work? Sustaining out block in the running game,” said Bowden. “And the kicking game was what I was afraid it would be.”
But there was Weinke. On his first TD pass, a 19-yarder to Javon Walker just 2:47 into the season, the quarterback was pushed into BYU’s LaVell Edwards on the sideline and the collision sent the 69-year-old coach sprawling. It might have been the hardest hit Weinke took all night at Alltel Stadium.
BYU was overmatched from the start, unable to keep up with Florida State’s new set of speedy receivers featuring Marvin Minnis, Atrews Bell, Anquan Boldin and Walker. Peter Warrick? Who’s he?
BYU barely extended its NCAA record of scoring in consecutive games to 313 when Owen Pochman kicked a 42-yard field goal with 2:19 left in the third quarter. The Cougars were last shut out in 1975, 20-0 by Arizona State
“It was frustrating,” Edwards said. “It was a typical opener. We did some good things. We played hard and well on defense. FSU’s defensive quickness made it difficult for us.”
After a 3-yard TD pass to Bell and safety made it 15-0, he took off on the longest run of his career. Before the 21-yarder, his previous longest run was 8 yards.
He rolled left, saw running room and outran several BYU defenders before being chased out of bounds at the 6. On the next play, a double reverse, he threw the block that freed up Bell for the TD that put the Seminoles in control at 22-0 early in the second quarter.
BYU, making a rare visit to the East Coast, had little chance against the much faster Seminoles, who were last seen beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl for their second national title.
Takes Aim at Record
Weinke needs 389 yards to become Florida State’s career passing leader, ahead of Gary Huff, who had 6,378 yards from 1970-72. Weinke, among the top Heisman Trophy contenders, has won 22 of 23 games he’s started.
Florida State extended its winning streak to 13 games and has won 22 consecutive regular-season games.
Florida State, with a crowd of 54,260 looking on, scored on its opening drive, with Weinke’s first completion of the season a 15-yarder to Minnis helping to set up the TD. Four plays later, the one in which he was shoved into Edwards, Weinke lofted his TD pass to Walker from about the 30. It dropped into the receiver’s arms with three BYU defenders around him.
“I was actually trying to throw the ball away,” Weinke said. “I saw one receivers and figured it would either go to him or out of bounds. Then I got pushed into somebody, and I didn’t know who it was. But that’s football.”
Florida State added a final TD with 1:11 left on Travis Minor’s 5-yard run.
Minnis led Florida State receivers with nine catches for 137 yards; Walker had eight catches for 70 yards.
While BYU still hopes to make Edwards’ 29th and final season a winning one, no doubt the coach will not soon forget the hit he and his team took against Florida State.