Okay so let me begin this piece by acknowledging that yes, of course, no single play ever wins or loses a game (especially when you face 108 of them on defense). But there were several key errors in Florida State’s season-opening loss to Boise State on Saturday, and we at Tomahawk Nation have been discussing which was the most important turning point in the Seminoles’ coming up short against the Broncos.
So we thought we’d put it to a vote. Here are the four finalists, in order of when they occurred, along with some context.
Early in the second quarter, the FSU offense was still rolling, having scored a touchdown on its first three possessions en route to a 21-6 lead. After forcing a punt, the ’Noles took over on their own 11 and looked to be primed for the knockout blow when QB James Blackman hit Warren Thompson for a 51-yard completion down to the Bronco 1-yard line.
A bad/mishandled snap then backed up the Seminoles a bit, as did a rush for negative yards. But it was still third and goal from the 4 when a miscommunication led to another snap issue, this one sailing past Blackman all the way back to the 28, circa Clemson, 2014.
Yes, Ricky Aguayo made the 46-yard field goal, but a 24-6 FSU lead could have been a fourth straight TD, a 28-6 advantage, and possibly seen some Bronco heads hanging. For as well as the Boise State defense played in shutting out the ’Noles after halftime, the first real stop of the garnet and gold was self-inflicted.
Not Gavin It
The Broncos outscored Florida State 13-7 over the rest of the first half, and the second stanza began in an offensive stalemate, as both squads punted twice before the ’Noles took over with nice field position at their own 40 in the third quarter, still up 31-19. A 14-yard Blackman toss to D.J. Matthews moved the ball into Bronco territory, and on the next play, Blackman lofted a great pass to Keith Gavin inside the red zone. But Gavin, as shown in our featured image, couldn’t come up with it.
While there’s no guarantee that Gavin would have scored, it’s probably six, a 38-19 gap, and the second half’s first strike from either team. A catch would have at least reignited the crowd and given FSU the ball well within field-goal range. It’s as close as Florida State would come to scoring in the second half, but it slipped through Gavin’s fingers.
Return to Sender
There weren’t a lot of feel-good moments for the Seminoles after halftime, and when they did occur, FSU seemed impervious to the concept of success. And our next candidate demonstrates just that.
When the ’Noles had to punt after the Gavin drop in the third, the Broncos were again on the move, though still trailing, 31-19. Boise State had made its way into Florida State territory when Seminole DT Marvin Wilson stripped Bronco QB Hank Bachmeier and the fumble was recovered by FSU’s Robert Cooper.
Taking over on offense, ’Nole RB Cam Akers ripped off a 14-yard run to get Florida State to the Boise State 33. Again, the Seminoles seemed destined to put points on the board. A play later, Akers fumbled the ball back to the Broncos, relinquishing not only possession after just two plays, but some sorely needed rest for the FSU defense. Boise State took over and less than two minutes later found the end zone to trail just 31-26.
Scoop and Snore
After another inept ’Nole drive that saw Florida State amass -9 yards and punt, the Broncos were on the move again in the fourth quarter; but the Seminoles still had the lead. Boise State again found the FSU red zone, but on a screen pass to George Holani, ’Nole safety Hamsah Nasirildeen forced a sideline fumble at the FSU 5 that squirted back into play right between Florida State defenders Levonta Taylor and Dontavious Jackson— and pretty much no one else. Taylor tried to fall on the ball, while Jackson tried to pick it up, and it popped loose from both, winding up in the arms of the Broncos.
Just like that, first down, Seminoles, with the lead, instead became first-and-goal, Broncos. Two plays later, Boise State took its first lead of the game. It was the only one they’d need. Or was the writing already on the wall at this point?
So. What’ll it be? If you had to pick just one...
Which single Seminole miscue was most responsible for FSU’s loss to Boise State?
This poll is closed
The errant goal-line snap
The fumble-recovery flub