Florida State’s defense played tremendously against Alabama. For much of the game, its offense wasn’t awful. But its special teams were a disaster, accounting for much of the 24-7 margin in the game.
Florida State ended the first half with sophomore kicker Ricky Aguayo setting up for a 37-yard field goal to tie the game. To make the situation even better for the ’Noles, they would receive the ball to start the 2nd half. Alabama had other plans, as it blocked the attempt with no resistance.
Things would only go downhill from there.
On its first drive in the second half, Alabama rushed in untouched, blocked a Logan Tyler punt and recovered the ball on FSU’s six-yard line.
The Crimson Tide were positioned to take a double-digit lead on Florida State...or so ‘Bama thought. Junior defensive end Josh Sweat sacked Jalen Hurts on second down, before Derwin James tackled the ’Bama QB shy of the end zone on the following play. Alabama made the field goal, and it remained just a one score game.
Florida State’s special teams continued to falter with sophomore wide receiver Keith Gavin fumbling the ensuing return, after a questionable decision to even take it out, giving Alabama another free possession in the red zone. This time, the Tide would put up eight on the scoreboard after a two-point pass from Hurts to Calvin Ridley. It was a 21-7 ball game with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois, perhaps pressing, threw two interceptions late in the second half and struggled mightily before leaving with injury.
Then Jimbo Fisher was forced to use a timeout on a punt return to avoid a too many men on the field penalty.
After all that, Florida State still trailed 21-7 with 10:48 left in the contest.
And then— you guessed it— another Florida State special teams blunder. Senior linebacker Matthew Thomas made a late hit after the ’Bama specialist called a fair catch. For the fifth straight drive, Alabama began in FSU territory.
The Crimson Tide would tack on a field goal to make it a three possession contest with 6:25 left in the game.
Florida State would’ve had too many men on the field for a punt with 5:44 in the game, but hustled a player off to avoid a penalty.
It was a disastrous night of special teams, wasting a pretty good night for the offense, and a great showing from Charles Kelly’s defense. However, it ended on a very sour note, as 12 went down on a sack by Ronnie Harrison. Now, FSU waits to see just how injured its sophomore gunslinger is.