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Offensive observations from FSU’s loss to Pitt

Penalties, sacks, and injuries doom Florida State’s offensive production.

Don Juan Moore

Florida State football’s offense once again got off to a hot start, before completely disappearing for the rest of the night. The ‘Noles went through three quarterbacks on the night, after an injury to starter Jordan Travis. Florida State has now scored just eight points in their last four second halves, as they were shut out in the second half. The early flashes have been all for nothing, as there’s been no consistency after the first quarter for the majority of the season. Here are our observations from FSU’s loss to Pitt:

  • It was obvious that Jordan Travis was much more healthy to begin the game after the bye week. The explosion and elusiveness that was missing at Louisville, was back against the Panthers, and in a big way early. Travis kept the ball on a zone read, made a man miss (completely took his ankles from him), and blew every Pitt defender out of the water for a 88-yard TD. But after that, there wasn’t much room for Travis to work. Instead of showing his elusiveness downfield, he was showing it in the backfield trying to avoid multiple Pitt DL on what seemed like every drop back. Those pressures, ultimately led to an injury that knocked Travis out of the game. Travis finished the night 11-18 for 106 yards in the air and 83 yards and a TD on the ground.
  • After Travis came out of the game, Mike Norvell made the head-scratching decision to bring in James Blackman. Three plays later, Blackman threw a pick and was pulled for the likes of FR Chubba Purdy. Purdy wasn’t much more successful. Purdy completed 12 of 21 passes but for a total of just 38 yards, good for 1.81 yards per attempt. He was only able to get free on one scramble for a long of six yards. Purdy also threw a pick six in the fourth quarter, as all three QB’s tossed an INT. There wasn’t much room to work with, but the QB’s didn’t help themselves on the night.
  • FSU’s wide receivers had their worst game of their season in Louisville last week. That poor performance looked to lead to some distrust and multiple miscommunications between the wideouts and Travis. Three separate times in the first half there was an obvious miscommunication. The most costly one came when Travis threw a hook route to Kentron Poitier, who looked to be expecting a back shoulder throw. Pitt’s AJ Woods capitalized on the opportunity for a game-changing interception. The timing all night looked to be off, as it hampered the offensive production.
  • Once again, FSU had success on their opening drive. The Seminoles went on a 10-play, 75-yard drive to open up their day on offense. Norvell showed off all of his creative colors on the scripted drive. FSU opened up with multiple screens that netted positive yardage. For the second time this season, they brought out the pop pass play. This time it wasn’t as successful, as Pitt read the play, but still resulted in positive yardage. Norvell capped off the drive with the vaunted tight-end sneak. Former QB and now TE Wyatt Rector motioned under center, before taking the snap and plowing into the end zone for a TD.
  • FSU’s run game was hitting on all cylinders in the first quarter, as they rushed for 146 rushing yards. Pitt didn’t allow more than 116 rushing yards in any of its first seven games. Florida State was averaging 8.9 yards per play in the first quarter and the offense looked to have a good game plan for the Panthers. That was until arguably FSU’s most important offensive player went down with an injury. After that, it seemed FSU almost completely forgot about their run game. FSU’s running backs combined for just seven runs the last three quarters as the QB’s ran for their lives in collapsing pockets.
  • Offensive tackle Devontay Love-Taylor went down with a knee injury late in the first quarter. He was replaced by Darius Washington and did not play the rest of the night. It was obvious after the injury that Love-Taylor is the most important player not only on the offensive line, but the whole offense.
  • We’ve heard over and over this season how FSU needs to negate it’s negative plays and self-inflicted mistakes. Today they did anything but that, giving up sack after sack and having multiple pre-snap penalties. Those sacks and penalties negated any positive plays that the Seminoles would make. It completely hampered their ability to sustain any drives after the first couple quarters. It also led to the starting QB getting hurt. 21 of Pitt’s 41 points came off FSU interceptions. The offensive line was simply dominated after the loss of Love-Taylor. Pitt’s defense posted seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The turnovers and sacks put the defense in tough spots all night.
  • One positive on the night was tight end Camren McDonald. McDonald made multiple crucial third down conversions on the night and was a main target for both Purdy and Travis. The junior ended the night with a team leading seven receptions and 61 yards. No other players had more than 20 yards receiving.