Eddie Goldman’s teammates can’t help but get animated when they describe him.
Running back Karlos Williams calls Goldman an “animal” and a “ticking time bomb.”
Defensive lineman Derrick Mitchell says Goldman is a “technique-brute monster.”
Yet, when Goldman speaks, the 6-4, 320-pound defensive tackle doesn’t say much. Or even smile much. And he definitely doesn’t allow any indicator that he might be one of the most crucial players on Florida State’s defense.
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“I was just doing my job,” Goldman said following a virtuosic performance that quite literally saved the game during FSU’s 23-17 victory over Clemson.
Those teammates describe it a little differently.
A former five-star recruit from Washington, D.C., Goldman spent two years as a nice player for FSU, plenty serviceable but not quite a game-changer, which was understandable because for each of those years All-American Timmy Jernigan practically owned the Seminoles’ defensive line.
But Goldman, now a junior, came of age against the Tigers. The stat sheet shows only two tackles, but his impact was far greater than that. And, anyway, they might have been the two biggest tackles of his life.
With the score tied at 17 and 1:40 remaining on the clock, Clemson was driving deep in FSU territory for a game-clinching score when Goldman descended on running back C.J. Davidson, felt his hand on the ball and yanked it loose.
Defensive back Nate Andrews recovered the fumble to send the game to overtime.
“That’s one of our keys,” Mitchell said. “Make sure the first guy wraps up [the ballcarrier], then the next guy to get him, you strip the ball.
“Eddie was just able to take care of both of them by himself.”
Goldman, though, wasn’t finished.
After a first-down incompletion in overtime, Goldman bowled through the line, wrapped up elusive quarterback Deshaun Waston, and brought him down for a four-yard sack.
FSU’s defense needed every one of those yards, too. Because after picking up 13 yards on a screen pass, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney kept his offense on the field.
On fourth-and-1, it was Goldman again, earning a defensive hat trick by jumping the snap, penetrating the backfield and tripping up Clemson running back Adam Choice behind the line of scrimmage. Teammates Chris Casher and Reggie Northrup finished the tackle to end the drive give the ball to the offense.
Two plays later, Williams rushed into the end zone to seal FSU’s victory.
“That’s A-1, right there,” Mitchell said. “You can’t script it up any better.”
And Goldman did it all while one of the Seminoles’ best players — defensive end Mario Edwards — watched the second half from the sidelines with a concussion.
Not bad for a player whose mere availability for the game was in doubt after sustaining an ankle injury during FSU’s win over The Citadel on Sept. 6.
It turned out to not be serious, but it still hurt plenty and kept Goldman out of practice for nearly a week.
“He should hurt his ankle more often,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher quipped.
Jokes aside, Goldman’s big night is a big deal for a defensive line that entered the season with questions about how it would fill the big hole left by Jernigan’s departure.
After a season filled with All-America and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors, Jernigan skipped his junior year to become a second-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens.
Goldman says he spent the last two seasons studying everything that made Jernigan so great — from attitude to work ethic to preparation.
“His intensity and attitude he had in the game,” Goldman said. “[Jernigan] had an aggressive, mean demeanor to him.”
It's all added up to nights like the one Goldman had on Saturday. And days in practice where teammates have to beg Goldman not to hit quite so hard.
“I've asked Eddie several times, ‘Please don't hit me during [practice]. Calm down,’” Williams said.
“You saw what he did against Clemson. Eddie’s a monster.”