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Offensive observations from Florida State’s win over Syracuse

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It’s the Cam Akers show

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Syracuse at Florida State Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cam Akers show was on full display Saturday as Florida State dominated Syracuse to the tune of 35-17. Akers also tied a school record for rushing touchdowns in a single game with four trips to the end zone. He finished with 145 yards on just 20 carries, a 7.2 yard per carry average.

Fittingly, Akers started off the scoring, finding the end zone on FSU’s first two drives to quickly put the Seminoles up 13-0. Despite Akers being the biggest threat on offense and a household name for Seminole opponents, FSU is still finding new ways to get him the ball.

Enter the WildCam, featuring Akers at Quarterback with starting QB Alex Hornibrook lined up out wide.

Using the WildCam Akers scored again right before halftime and shortly after the second half began. He even completed his first two pass attempts on nice throws that combined for 26 yards. Not to mention a successful two-point conversion attempt, or the multiple direct snaps even with quarterback Hornibrook under center.

Hornibrook started the game after head coach Willie Taggart had publicly stated that James Blackman played well enough to win last week at Wake Forest. Hornibook wasn’t great today, often underthrowing his passes or throwing them behind his receivers. Though to be fair, when Blackman finally saw the field in garbage time he wasn’t much better, poorly underthrowing Jordan Young who made an incredible adjustment to catch it.

Hornibrook, who finished 15 of 26 for 196 yards, still left a ton of yards and points on the field. Hornibrook famously once stated that it doesn’t matter how much arm strength you have if you throw the ball at the right time. Yet he badly missed an open receiver over the middle, throwing so late the defenders were able to break on the ball and force an incompletion. Hornibrook often didn’t throw it at the right time tonight against the Orange. That may or may not have had something to do with the implementation of the WildCam on FSU’s third drive of the day interrupting his rhythm. FSU still finished with a combined and respectable 7.7 yards per pass attempt.

Thanks in large part to the WildCam, by the time the first quarter ended FSU had a yards per play advantage of 8.1 to 1.2. Akers was averaging 9 yards per carry. After that the offense stalled for a short time. At halftime the ’Noles were up 21-3, and Akers already had three touchdowns and FSU was averaging 6.6 yards per play to 2.8 for Syracuse.

As for role players, Tamorrion Terry again didn’t have a great target to catch ratio, but he did finish with two catches for 84 yards. His longest reception of 54 yards, was, well, whatever this is:

Aside from Terry, tight end Tre’McKitty also had himself a day. He only finished for 40 yards on four receptions but he had a big 22-yard reception on a TE screen play where he created tons of yards after the catch, aided by some great blocking.

Unfortunately, FSU couldn’t get out of this game without new injury woes. Both offensive tackle Ryan Roberts and guard Donte Lucas left the game with injuries. Akers also went into the locker room late in the game, and missed out on his chance to set the school record. Khalan Laborn also kept the FSU offense on pace, finishing with 68 yards on 17 carries.

Still, the WildCam was the big takeaway in this game. FSU ran a lot of concepts (like Dart and Veer concepts) that were more reminiscent of Taggart’s USF offenses with Quinton Flowers. It might not make a difference against teams that FSU can’t block up front, but against the Orange it was effective and devastating.

By the time garbage time arrived in the fourth quarter, FSU had thoroughly dominated the Orange per play to the tune of 6.4 to 3.6.

It was a solid team win in a must-win scenario. The ’Noles now have the rival Miami Hurricanes on deck. Raise the flags.