Florida State fans got what they wanted- a quarterback change. True freshman quarterback Tate Rodemaker got the nod over incumbent starter and redshirt junior James Blackman, completing 8 of his 12 passes for 58 yards.
However, Rodemaker’s third attempt sailed into the hands of a Gamecock cornerback for a pick-six on the game’s opening possession, and FSU found themselves in an early 14-0 hole.
Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell quickly pivoted away from Rodemaker just four drives into his first career start, opting instead with redshirt sophomore and dual-threat quarterback Jordan Travis.
Finally crossing midfield on the first drive of the second quarter, Travis took a shot downfield, hitting wideout Keyshawn Helton for a 41-yard touchdown. Florida State was held to just 1 touchdown against Georgia Tech and Miami, but Travis made sure FSU would find the end zone a few more times on Saturday.
Florida State quickly flipped the script: Travis led the Noles on 5 touchdown drives on 5 straight possessions, all drives of 63 yards of more. Jacksonville State struggled to hold off the newfound rushing attack of FSU. Sophomore La’Damian Webb found the end zone twice, and Travis ran one in on his own as well.
Breakout freshman running back Lawrance Toafili capped off the 14-point comeback with his first career touchdown, plunging into the end zone from 13 yards out. Toafili continued to impress, racking up 99 yards on just 12 carries.
After receiving spot playing time last season, Travis, the brother of former Florida State baseball standout Devon Travis, may have finally grasped the reins of the starting quaterback job. The West Palm Beach, Fla. product completed 13 of 18 passes for 210 yards, adding 11 carries for 49 yards on the ground.
Only a holding penalty haulted the scrambling play-making of Travis on his sixth drive of the game, and the Noles punted back to Jacksonville State with 10:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing defensive possession, junior defensive back Asante Samuel grabbed his third interception of the season, icing Jacksonville State’s offense and the game. FSU held the Gamecocks to 3 points in the second half.
From there, the Noles rushing attack kept stayed hot, pushing the offense over 500 total yards with a 13-play, 88-yard touchdown drive. Redshirt sophomore Jashaun Corbin, who had 15 carries for 66 yards, finished off the 6 minute game-clinching series with a two-yard dive to put FSU up 17.
Despite getting shut out for the first 23 minutes of the game, FSU finished the game with 41 points, 533 yards of total offense, and went 10/16 on third down as Norvell won his first game as Noles’ head coach.