It didn’t take long for Florida State’s defense to take control of the game.
In Florida’s second drive, Brian Burns came screaming off of the edge to strip the ball from Gators’ quarterback Feleipe Franks. Jacob Pugh picked it up and ran untouched for a 16-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
The ’Noles managed to control UF’s offense for most of the game, racking up four takeaways and five sacks. Franks, who had struggled to move the ball downfield all season, threw for 184 yards, but tossed three interceptions. Levonta Taylor snagged two of them, returning one for a touchdown, and Matthew Thomas picked off the third one.
Thomas was untouched as he ran into the end zone, but replay showed his knee hit the ground at the one-yard line. It was a play that went viral on social media, but thankfully Florida State’s offense managed to correct his mistake and punch the ball in on the ensuing drive.
Hello, here is the definitive 2017 Florida play.— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) November 25, 2017
It is also the definitive 2017 Florida State play.https://t.co/FAovR9TIGY
Overall, Florida State did a great job of limiting Florida’s offense throughout the game. The Gators averaged 3.9 yards per play and Franks’ only touchdown came in the final moments of the contest.
It started up front, where FSU’s defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Derrick Nnadi had a career game, racking up 1.5 sacks and making life difficult for Florida’s run game. In all, the Seminoles totaled 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
As previously mentioned, Burns had another huge performance. The sophomore pass rusher stripped Franks for a fumble early in the game, but also had 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a pair of pass breakups. Taylor, another sophomore, snagged the first two interceptions of his career as well.
This game also showcased the future of Florida State’s defense. When Josh Sweat left with an injury late in the game, Joshua Kaindoh stepped in and made a tackle for loss. Stanford Samuels continued his impressive freshman season in this game, showing shades of another cornerback to wear #8 for the Seminoles.
Florida State only allowed two drives of over 50-yards in the game, the second of which game in garbage time. Four of Florida’s 15 drives resulted in turnovers, with a fourth-down stop coming on another. The Gators’ also punted six times, resulting in a fairly efficient day overall for FSU’s defense.
Next week, FSU returns to Tallahassee to host Louisiana-Monroe. The Seminoles sit at 5-6, with one win remaining for bowl eligibility. Despite a 4-7 record, the Warhawks boast the 21st ranked offense in the country per S&P+ rankings (not updated for Week 13). Florida State will be favored heavily, but the defense cannot let up if the ’Noles want to claim bowl eligibility for the 36th year in a row.