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Quick hitter: Florida State 41, Jacksonville State 24

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Florida State grabs its first win of the season after trailing early

Don Juan Moore

Florida State Seminoles football was ready to expect a dogfight against Jacksonville State — and through one half, that’s exactly what it was.

While the Gamecocks are an FCS school, they have former Clemson quarterback and blue-chip quarterback Zerrick Cooper under center, along with a talented front seven on defense. They’ve leaned on both strengths to take a 21-14 lead on the Seminoles, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Quarterback Tate Rodemaker got the start instead of James Blackman (who has started the last two games for Florida State), but after a pick six on his first drive and some early struggles, quarterback Jordan Travis entered the game and provided a spark for a Seminoles’ offense that’s struggled to put point on the board all season.

Score/Result: Florida State Seminoles 41, Jacksonville State 24

Player of the Game (Offense): Uh, this is gonna be hard, hmm, who should...lmao as if it would be anybody but quarterback Jordan Travis, who has consistently provided a spark for Florida State over the last two season but nothing like Saturday. His first five drives saw him score five touchdowns, leading multiple 60 and 70-plus yard scoring drives, the first time FSU has scored more than a single touchdown in a game all season.. He had an instant impact, not just on the ground but through the air — a plane that most hadn’t realized the quarterback was capable of taking full advantage of. He managed to spark Tamorrion Terry’s best game of the season, including on a huge toss down field.

“Jordan provided a great spark for the offense,” head coach Mike Norvell said at halftime on ESPN.

Player of the Game (Defense): Defensively, the Seminoles struggled, allowing the Gamecocks to earn over 6 yards per play — though Joshua Kaindoh’s return from injury provided an extra bit of help setting the edge. The Gamecocks had success attacking the boundary side of the field, and also finding opportunities through the air on busted coverages or late turns.

Key Statistic: 5. As mentioned above, FSU had only managed to find the end zone twice this whole season, only putting up 23 combined points through two games. Jordan Travis’ skill set allowed Florida State to find success on the offensive side of the ball for the first time this season.

Offensive Play of the Game: It’s easy to pick any of Travis’ plays (especially his 41-yard toss that was the longest play for FSU this season), but this touchdown run by La’Damian Webb was just ridiculous:

Defensive Play of the Game: It could’ve been the forced fumble that wasn’t called on Jacksonville State’s third touchdown — but there wasn’t too much outside of that, though FSU did notch its first sacks of the season.

Unsung Hero: Picking the offensive line is a cliche here — but the boys in the trenches played a huge part in FSU’s best offensive output this season. A few players went down again with injury, but there wasn’t a huge drop off when others rotated in — a testament to the work that offensive line coach Alex Atkins has done this year.

Game-Clinching Moment: When Jacksonville State decided to punt following FSU’s touchdown to take a 34-24 lead. The Gamecocks were on the 32, but facing a fourth and three early in the fourth. In games where you’re trying to keep up with a more talented opponent, you push for all opportunities you can — at that moment, it became obvious FSU wasn’t at the same level of risk of losing as it so often has over the last three seasons.

What Do They Need To Do?: Figure out the defense. We’ve broken down what the issues with FSU’s defense are so far — not filling gaps, not getting home when bringing pressure, not finishing tackles, an inability to protect the boundary — and those didn’t seem to be corrected on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller has hands full on figuring out how to fix what was supposed to be the main strength of this Seminoles’ squad in 2020.