Florida State, after outlasting an upset bid by the Pitt Panthers, is 9-0 (6-0 ACC) and headed to the ACC Championship game.
It wasn’t a particularly pretty win for the Seminoles, who led Pitt just 10-7 at halftime, but a stout defensive performance and timely explosive plays on offense helped separate the score in the end as FSU secured a 24-7 victory.
Florida State was without star receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson and the effect was apparent on the Seminoles’ offense, with the team’s 14-game streak of scoring 30-plus points coming to an end (though quarterback Jordan Travis still put up 360 yards on the day).
What is there to takeaway from the Seminoles’ win?
The Tomahawk Nation staff breaks down five questions with five answers below.
How much of FSU’s offensive struggles can be attributed to Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson’s absences?
Tim: Tons. FSU had zero vertical threat which allowed Pitt to compress their defense. When FSU finally started having some success, then the rest of the offense started to open. There’s other issues that need to be worked out but without your two biggest targets, it made the defensive scheme easier.
LastNoleOfKrypton: Tim hit the nail on the head, Pitt felt comfortable playing with 8 in the box and with that cover 4 scheme behind it it was curtains for FSU’s vertical game without Keon, Johnny, and Hykeem.
Perry: The majority — if you want to go even further, the hidden yardage lost on punt return as a result of Coleman’s absence played a huge factor. Moreso than lack of talent throughout the rest of the offense, it seems as if some of that struggle was self-inflicted by some of the play-calling. That all said — It’s not like Pitt’s defense is a pushover, either, so it was going to be a battle regardless.
Evenflow58: It certainly affected things but I don’t know how much. Williamson was open a few times on long passes and JT threw him into the defender instead of into space. Maybe Coleman or Wilson comes down with one of those two or maybe JT feels a bit more comfortable in his throws. I think Pitt is a pretty good defense and Narduzzi’s whole schtick is to ruin all offenses no matter who’s they belong to. I think the bigger issue was Norvell’s play calling at times. He’d get too cute with the flea flickers or try and man ball it in short yardage.
Which part of the Florida State defense played the biggest part in the win?
Tim: The front six. The constant pressure, the run stuffs, the linebacker coverage and blitzes. This kept the Pitt offense at bay and should get the credit.
LastNoleOfKrypton: Front six once again; Braden Fiske should break the rock
Evenflow58: I agree that the front six really did a good job but the secondary did a good job in run support and, after cleaning up a few busts, put in a pretty good day.
Perry: Cheating by not saying a position group, but the way that FSU effectively shut down the run game forced Pitt to rely heavily on the pass game — which while the Panthers racked up 224 yards and their sole touchdown through the air was ideal, given their struggles in the pass game overall.
What did you like from FSU’s offense today?
Tim: The wide receivers finally started finding success in the second half. Pitt’s defense definitely came out hyped and punched the receivers in the mouth. Ja’Khi Douglas was able to finally stretch the field. ‘Dre Jacobs picked up a huge reception, and Destyn Hill flashed at times.
LastNoleOfKrypton: FSU’s TE group is excellent. Kyle Morlock was excellent today; the game-changing play in the first half and setting the edge once the running game got going. FSU needs to let Jaheim Bell run more routes down field; he’s great at it and how about Biscuit? FSU has an embarrassment of riches at the tight end position.
Perry: The tight ends were awesome — Kyle Morlock continues to get more and more comfortable within the offense and the results are evident each week, Markeston Douglas came up clutch to separate the Seminoles on the scoreboard and Jaheim Bell, while not exactly lighting it up on the stat sheet, was a safety blanket for Travis in a game where he especially needed it.
Evenflow58: I thought they ran the ball well for what this team is. The run game is not one that’s going to keep FSU on schedule and maybe that’s kind of how Mike Norvell’s offense runs. They did break a few long runs, which means you have to pay attention to it as a defense and opens things up.
Who, on either side of the ball, impressed you most?
Tim: Watching the game, it doesn’t really stand out but Jordan Travis had 360 yards passing on the day. He connected with eight different receivers and was the difference maker.
LastNoleOfKrypton: I’ll go with Travis as well; as the game went on it became clear to me that Mike Norvell was the one that was more uncomfortable without Keon than Travis. Once the players around him started playing better he started dropping some serious dimes to help decompress Pitt’s defense.
Perry: Conrady Hussey — two game-clinching turnovers, all while fighting against the fact that FSU, at least in the eyes of next week’s opponent, fails to play or develop freshmen.
Evenflow58: I think Hussey probably busted the big play Pitt had early that should have gone for a TD but he’s really really good. He’s active in run support and he had his first pick. I think it’s very likely FSU has the best safeties in the country in two years if not next.
Free space — it’s Miami week, y’all, go wild
LastNoleOfKrypton: Mike’s play calling against Pitt has me convinced Cristobal is about to get absolute cooked in Tallahassee next Saturday.
Evenflow58: My grandfather went to Miami and his dad was a Miami fan. He used to call them the zephyrs. That feels appropriate.
Perry: My fiancee is a double-Gator, so this is the one rivalry week that I can fully be obnoxious about how much hate is truly in my heart. At risk of getting screenshot and tagged in a Freezing Cold Takes post, I cannot wait to see Mario Cristobal with his dumb blank expression as he kicks a field goal down 48-0 — FFFM as a staff, record label and as a crew.