Seminole fans love our film reviews-- here are some notes on the extracurricular activity from when the 'Noles topped the Gators.
Barring injury, quarterback Everett Golson looks to be relegated to the sideline for the remainder of the 2015 season. But, evidently, he's far from checked out. I saw Golson staying late to throw passes after FSU practices leading up to the Florida game, and throughout Florida State's victory over the Gators in The Swamp, Golson was often in the ear of Jimbo Fisher on the sideline, seemingly inquiring about play calls. The grad-transfer deserves credit for this, as he could have easily withdrawn after being replaced by Sean Maguire.
These 'Noles continue to display a real affinity for one another, and it was shown several times in Gainesville. After Ermon Lane was knocked around following an incompletion that saw him wind up in a swarm of Florida defenders, center Alec Eberle quickly rushed to the outnumbered-WR's side to help extricate him from the situation.
Later, following Jeremy Kerr's first-ever catch -- which just happened to be for the game's first touchdown -- his teammates, primarily the offensive line, mobbed him in the end zone. It was a scene reminiscent of the treatment afforded Kelvin Benjamin after he snagged the title-clinching TD in Pasadena. And it came from a squad knowing that it had a shot at neither the national, nor ACC championship-- which, one could argue, makes such a response all the more impressive.
But just because these Seminoles look after each other doesn't mean they don't do so while seemingly imparting constructive criticism as well. To wit: after a short Bobo Wilson punt return in the second quarter, the seldom-seen Malique Jackson appeared to impart some criticism to the former about getting upfield.
Such a circumstance reoccured after Giorgio Newberry batted down a Treon Harris pass to get the 'Noles off the field on a first-half third down. Derwin James and Nate Andrews had each come after Harris and converged on the Gator QB; when UF tight-end Jake McGee held the arm of Andrews, who smacked it away, the freshman James was quick to sling his arm around Andrews' neck, while walking him away and patting him on the helmet as the pair jogged to the sideline, thus eliminating any possibility for a retaliation penalty in a game in which field position played a massive role.
These instances look much less like a team schism than examples of players wanting to make the most out of their opportunities and deeply desiring to better the team in their time on the field. Forget about seniority; accountability has taken hold.
Point being, teaching moments on this team don't just occur from upperclassmen to newbies-- and 'Nole fans should be happy about that, because as invaluable as senior leadership is, buying in consists of everybody, regardless of age or experience, doing his part.
And, of course, that extends all the way to the coaches. After the win over UF, Fisher said he was "as proud of this football team as any team [he's] ever been around." And that really showed on the sideline after the FSU win was beyond in the bag. With less than a minute and a half left to play, and the 'Noles possessing the football while up 20-2 in Gator territory, Fisher was not satisfied. It had nothing to do with the score, but everything to do with getting it right.
So, when his wide recievers were out of position, in the game's final moments, Fisher called a timeout. And then another. Call it a teaching moment. FSU fans love to tout former-Seminole defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' mantra of playing through the echo of the whistle. Well, call this coaching through the echo of the outcome. The game was decided, sure-- yet time remained to teach.
And the message took hold. For when Florida State went for it on fourth and three with under a minute left, Fisher saw what he wanted: a flawlessly executed run that wound up with Dalvin Cook trotting to the end zone untouched to secure a final result of 27-2. But make no mistake about it-- this was never about running it up. Sending Roberto Aguayo, the all-time leader in NCAA field-goal percentage, out to tack-on points would have been far more unsportsmanlike. And it's not like Fisher called for a pass.
He gave the formidable UF defense every chance to take back the football and close out the game at a more respectable score. Fisher, and the players he's coached to play from the first whistle to the last, have nothing for which to apologize. But they had everything to celebrate-- most notably, the first time in FSU history that the 'Nole beat the Gators three-straight times in The Swamp.
And the 'Noles seemed to appreciate every aspect of the win, extending beyond the FSU sideline. Cook himself took on the role of good-will ambassador, congratulating UF's Khairi Clark as he ran off the field, while hugging a police officer on the sideline thereafter. Fisher got the traditional water-cooler soak (you knew it wouldn't be Gatorade, right?), from Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith, while defensive coordinator Charles Kelly was doused by Jalen Ramsey, Tyler Hunter, and Marquez White.