Florida State opened the season with a 37-31 win over Oklahoma State Saturday night, a result that was closer than many believed would be prior to kick-off. In post game interviews, a few of the players suggested that the team was underestimating the Cowboys' squad.
"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy battle, but we didn't think it was going to be this hard," safety Jalen Ramsey said. "They definitely came out and gave us an eye-opener."
The fix starts with practice habits in the coming weeks, as players noted that the week of practice leading up to Saturday night's game was subpar and not up to expectations.
"This week we only practiced OK, we didn't practice to the Florida State standard," Ramsey said. "Our habits came to light in the game and that's what happens when you don't practice like a champion."
It was as if the players expected the game to go better than the practice just because it was under the lights.
"We were just too relaxed in practice this week, thinking we would make the plays during the actual game," Ramsey said. "You practice how you play, so we can't keep thinking like that."
Star defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., echoed the sentiments.
"How you practice is how you play and we can't practice bad or just OK and expect to play well in the game," added Edwards, Jr. "That's not acceptable at Florida State and it's something we have to get better at."
Coach Jimbo Fisher also noted that the rotation on the defensive line was short because of a lack of confidence in some reserves due to their practice play.
"Some guys got to play better in practice and then we will put them in the football game," Fisher said.
Florida State's fast start seemed to feed the team's overconfidence as the 'Noles jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter following a Mario Pender touchdown run.
The Cowboys outscored the Seminoles 31-20 from that point on. Coverage busts, missed tackles, losing leverage, lining up incorrectly and getting beaten at the point-of-attack (especially up the middle) began to occur more than the team would have liked as the game progressed.
"It's not a fifteen minute game, it's a sixty minute game," Edwards, Jr. said. "Offense and defense kept making mistakes and giving them momentum."
One drive that stood out during the game was following Rashad Greene's 50 yard touchdown grab that put FSU ahead 37-24 with 3:58 left in the game, seemingly shutting the door on the Cowboys. The 'Noles seemed to think the game was over.
The kick-off coverage unit broke contain allowing OSU star Tyreek Hill to bounce outside, hitting a 46 yard return as a result. The Cowboys promptly scored a touchdown a few plays later to cut the lead back to 37-31 with just under two minutes remaining, making it a tight game once more.
"I think after the game in the locker room there was a sense that we are a lot better than how we played tonight, wide receiver Rashad Greene said. "We need to get back in the lab and create better practice habits."
While Florida State didn't perform at its best it is important to note that a wake up call this early in the season may in fact be what the doctor ordered to jump start the Seminoles' focus. It took a few games last season for FSU to realize it could not take any plays off and Oklahoma State should have provided that eye-opener tonight.
"I feel like this is a lesson," Edwards Jr said. "We need to go one hundred percent every play."
"This was an eye-opener, we have to execute better every chance we get, every play. We can't take any plays off," added Ramsey. "We need to go out there and practice how we want to play."
Florida State faces Clemson in 20 days. If the Seminoles are to play at a national championship level, it will start with practice.