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Offensive observations from FSU’s comeback win over Jacksonville State

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Florida State has found their QB and offensive identity.

@FSUfootball twitter

Florida State football got off to as slow a start as possible on the offensive side of the ball. The ‘Noles totaled just 25 yards of offense in the first quarter, while also throwing a pick-six. After a change of the starting quarterback before the game stalled, an in-game change proved effective.

  • Many have called for a youth movement at Florida State, and they got it today. But with that youth movement comes some growing pains, which were quite present early on. True freshman Tate Rodemaker got his first career start after a decent showing at the end of the Miami game. It was a very different story for Rodemaker in his first start.
  • Rodemaker threw a pick six on an under-thrown out-route which led to an easy pick-six for Jacksonville State. He also took a bad sack on a broken screen play which led to a missed field goal. FSU’s offensive line didn’t give him much help, but he looked shaky in the pocket and was often hesitating to make throws. Norvell tried to settle the freshman in with screens and easy throws, but mistakes hampered their ability to move the ball down the field. Rodemaker finished the day 8-12 with 58 yards passing.
  • FSU needed a spark down 14-0, and they got it out of quarterback Jordan Travis. Not only did he provide them with a spark, but also an offensive identity for the rest of the year. After Travis was put in the game, the ‘Noles scored a touchdown on five straight drives, after scoring just 2 TD’s in the first nine quarters of the season. Travis’ running threat opened up lanes for the running backs, which also effectively opened up the passing game for the Seminoles. His mobility and awareness in the pocket also made the offensive line look the best it has since the first couple drives of the year.
  • The shot plays finally showed up in Mike Norvell’s offense today. As the running game gained some traction, the top of the defense was opened up, and FSU’s wide receivers started to flash for the first time this year. FSU gained that running traction through the triple option with Travis’ legs. The triple option gave the ‘Noles another dynamic, which put stress on the JSU defense. After not having a single play over 30+ yards on the year, Florida State produced seven plays of 20+ yards on the day.
  • Florida State has found a running back to build around for the future in Lawrance Toafili. Toafili flashed at the end of the Miami game and carried that momentum into this week’s game.

The freshman running back flashed on multiple long runs, including an 11-yard TD run off a pitch from Travis. Toafili bounced the run outside and beat a couple defenders to the pylon. He finished the night with 99 yards on 12 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per carry.

  • Once Travis came into the game, the running back trio as a whole had an impressive night. La’Damian Webb produced two TD’s on hard runs.

Webb finished the night with 55 yards on 10 carries. Jashaun Corbin also posted more than 50 yards, as he finished the night with 63 yards on 14 carries. With all three runners carrying the ball well and Travis making the right reads, FSU found an identity and was dominant on the ground.

  • FSU’s starting-WR trio of Tamorrion Terry, Ontaria Wilson, and Keyshawn Helton broke out for the first time this year. Helton made a good adjustment and tough catch in tight coverage on an under-thrown ball for a 41-yard TD, his second of the year. He also had a nice day in the kick return game, going an average of 27 yards on 4 returns.

Terry finally landed his first big catch of the year on a perfectly thrown ball from Travis for a 48-yard connection out of the half. Wilson led the way in both yards and receptions, as he went for 86 yards on seven catches.

  • Obviously, it’s hard to say that this offensive production will continue going into the rest of ACC play. After all, Jacksonville State is out of the FCS and doesn’t have the talent of ACC defenses. But Travis gives Florida State consistency and flexibility as an offense. He gives Florida State the best chance to hide their weaknesses, open up some gaps, and be an efficient offense. After Travis took over, Florida State averaged 7.5 yards per play on 64 plays. It’s a small step, but a much-needed step in the right direction. Florida State now has momentum, confidence, and a QB to build on.