JACKSONVILLE — Florida State senior CB Michael Ray Garvin is an All-America sprinter, but he rarely showed his blistering speed in the open field on kickoff returns.
In 53 career chances, he had never returned a kick all the way.
That changed Saturday when he went 94 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Seminoles had gone 75 games without a kickoff return for a score. The most recent one had been Leon Washington's 97-yard return against Clemson in 2002.
"We had a middle return on," he said. "I saw a crease and ran to it. It felt good, but I give all the glory to God."
"The kickoff return was so important," coach Bobby Bowden said, adding that it was critical that his team answer a Colorado score.
Caz can catch, too: Bowden expected junior TE Caz Piurowski, a former Land O'Lakes standout who was back after serving his suspension for his admitted involvement in the academic misconduct scandal, to have quite an impact as a blocker. He is 6-7, 275 pounds.
But Piurowski matched his single-game high for catches with three for a career-high 33 yards.
Upon further review: The Seminoles benefited from a pair of reviews, one on the opening series that upheld a fumble recovery by DE Neefy Moffett and one in the third quarter that overturned a call that WR Preston Parker had fumbled.
First time for everything: Junior S Jamie Robinson picked off a Cody Hawkins pass early in the second quarter, the first interception this season for the Seminoles.
Injury update: FSU starting OLB Toddrick Verdell left early in the opening quarter with a strained groin. He didn't return. Late in the first half, senior CB Tony Carter went out with a groin injury and didn't return. Junior CB Patrick Robinson left with a lower back contusion.
Ticket count: Gator Bowl Association president Rick Catlett was pleased with the showing for the game. His group said 46,716 tickets were distributed. That paled in comparison to last year's record crowd of 85,412 for the FSU-Alabama game, but he pointed out that FSU "brought as many fans as they brought last year."
Familiar faces: Former FSU standouts Greg Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Travis Johnson (Houston Texans) were on the sideline. The Texans play the Jaguars today.
Homecoming for FSU: For seven FSU players, the day marked a homecoming, a sign of how important Jacksonville is as a pipeline for talent. The players were Carter (Mandarin High), junior WR Rod Owens (Wolfson), sophomore WR Louis Givens (Mars Hill) and WR Avis Commack (First Coast), LB Nigel Carr (First Coast), RB Jermaine Thomas (First Coast) and OT Jacob Stanley (Trinity Christian), all freshmen.
Animal Planet ... not quite FSU brought Renegade to the game, the first time the Apaloosa has been to a matchup outside Tallahassee since 1994 (Notre Dame in Orlando), but Colorado didn't bring Ralphie (actually, there are two, Ralphie IV and Ralphie V). But then, Boulder is about 1,500 miles away.
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.