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5 questions, 5 answers: Breaking down FSU’s victory at Boston College

Florida State grinds out another down-to-the-wire win

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Florida State Seminoles took down the Boston College Eagles in an exciting albeit stressful fashion 26-23 to close out ACC play for the season. It was a tale of two halves that seemed suiting for this Noles team but coming home with a win (and some sod) inches them one step closer to 6-6 and bowl game eligibility. The Seminoles now look ahead to another classic rivalry against the Florida Gators in the swamp next week.

So what went right? What went wrong? Our staff here at Tomahawk Nation sat down to discuss another dominant performance by the defensive line, improvement overall from the offense, and how the Seminoles managed to let the Eagles sneak back in to make this game more nerve-wracking than it needed to be:

What went right on offense? What went wrong?

Perry Kostidakis: What went wrong was mostly FSU’s inability to sustain drives in the second half. On five possessions, they only mustered out one score and most crucially, went three-and-out in just a minute right when Boston College was starting to get some momentum back. As for what went right, phew man did you see that Malik McClain catch? Jordan Travis was on point today, racking up 251 yards through the air and three scores.

Tommy: What went right? Jordan Travis. 20-34, 251 yards, and three touchdowns were enough to stave off a driving Eagles team determined to win. Both Wilsons (Jordan Wilson with two crucial blocks in the red zone for scores and Ontaria with three catches, sixty yards, and one of the aforementioned touchdowns,) Douglas, Corbin, and Ward all played major roles in the first half slaughterhouse. However, the Boston College defense adjusted after the half that mixed with penalties to slow the offense down. Whether you like the calls or not, 13 penalties overall for 120 yards is unacceptable. The play calling on the final drive made sense when Mike Norvell opted to take the delay of game in order to drain the last few seconds off the clock to win.

Brett Nevitt: I thought Jashaun Corbin was really good today. 4.8 yards per carry on 13 attempts, also had a 20-yard reception. And Jordan Travis was just really efficient in the first half. He looks better and better in the pocket every week. Injury luck and penalties were FSU’s offensive downfall today. Devontay Love-Taylor and Keyshawn Helton both couldn’t give it a go and Darius Washington was injured late. Penalties on fourth downs and third downs really made it hard for them to take advantage of more points. Some of that was also due to the shuffling of offensive linemen.

What went right on defense? What went wrong?

Perry Kostidakis: Just like every week — Jermaine Johnson went right. Joining him was Keir Thomas, who had an absolutely dominant performance vs. the Eagles on Saturday. It’s hard to pinpoint anything that went particularly wrong against the defense, other than getting hampered by penalties.

Tommy: The defensive line. There is no question about it. The talent that the starting four have and also the depth has been a nice surprise compared to how I felt at the beginning of the season. It felt like déjà vu from last week against the Miami Hurricanes on the Eagle's final drive. The defense was able to keep the Eagles at bay and fortunately enough the Seminole offense didn’t spike the ball to end the game in an odd and confusing way. If I had to nitpick it would go back to penalties (some deserved and some not so much.) The way the game was officiated was baffling at times but I still feel the middle of the field is a weakness. Major shout out to Kevin Knowles II and Deloach for stopping big plays before they got going.

Brett Nevitt: I don’t know if there’s a better defensive line in the country right now than FSU (besides UGA). Keir Thomas was in the backfield basically every play. Jermaine Johnson is Jermaine Johnson. Fabien Lovett had some massive tackles early. And Malcolm Ray is really starting to turn into a valuable piece up the middle. I also thought Kalen Deloach was as good as it gets today. Man, that play on the screen was unreal. And he really filled gaps in the run game. I don’t really have any gripes with the defense today, just thought they had really bad penalty luck in the second half. Jurkovec really hurt him with his legs, but it felt like they were contempt with that and it played out with a win.

What play changed the game?

Perry Kostidakis: Maybe out of left field, but Kalen DeLoach causing a safety late in the second quarter I think provided the right amount of cushion for FSU to work with going into the second half. Those two points coupled with Ryan Fitzgerald’s field goal pushed the Seminoles out enough ahead that their opening third-quarter touchdown proved to be the difference.

Tommy: Sack, QB pressure, sack, sack, and more pressure. Not one play for me changed the game but the 4th down stops, the safety with Deloach blazing into the end zone like he was shot out of a bazooka, and all the pressure generated upfront won the day. Shout out to Akeem Dent on his interception and to Jarques McClellion for leading the team in tackles with eight after stepping in for Jammie Robinson.

Brett Nevitt: This might be really specific, but I’m going to go with Malcolm Ray’s tackle for loss on second and eight on Boston College’s last drive. BC was really starting to gash FSU. It felt like they were going to be able to score as the time ran out to win. Ray destroyed the interior of the offensive line and brought the running back down for a loss to force third and nine. That made BC go back to the air and allowed Keir Thomas to get after Jurkovic. They got pressure on back-to-back plays after that to force bad throws. If BC gets a couple on that run, could play out a whole different way.

Who’s your MVP?

Perry Kostidakis: I’m writing first, so I get to pick him first — Keir Thomas. Dude has been showing off his talent all year, but today, he especially flashed. It seemed like the transfer lineman was in Boston College’s backfield all day — and it’s crazy to think he could’ve added 1-3 more sacks to his total.

Tommy: Yes! No one took the obvious so I will. Jermaine Johnson II killed it today as usual providing constant pressure and padding his stats for the draft next year.

Brett Nevitt: My MVP is Alex Mastromanno. Weird take maybe, but FSU doesn’t win the game without him. He was exceptional. Five punts, four downed within the 20. Two of those inside the four, including one at the one-yard line. This is a kid that is in his second year of football. Second. And he’s been a weapon for FSU all year. Hats off to the mullet. (Also Keir Thomas, like Perry said, tip of the cap. Left every single bit of his effort on the field tonight.)

What’s your main takeaway?

Perry Kostidakis: After starting 0-4, the Seminoles are just one win over the Florida Gators away from qualifying for a bowl game. It’s still not an ideal season, considering the lapses that led to that 0-4 start, but it’s reflective of the progress this team has made since the opening kick vs. Notre Dame.

Tommy: Whew, another nail-biter. We’ve seen what a team firing on all cylinders can do and what a team whose timing ratio is off. My main takeaway is that I’m happy with the win and look forward to a showdown in the Swamp. Ja’Khi has really stepped up and even if some of our starters on the defense go down (or get ejected) there is some tangible depth.

Brett Nevitt: My main takeaway is this team loves their coaches and their coaches love them. Mike Norvell didn’t lose this team at 0-4 because his players loved playing for him and the coaches love coaching the players. Players and coaches don’t care about their individual success, they just want to see the guys around them doing well. Watch the team’s reaction to Malik McClain’s TD catch. Watch the joy on Mike Norvell’s face after the win in the press conference. Listen to Keir Thomas’ answer when asked about Adam Fuller breaking the rock. Dudes care and dudes believe. That goes a long, long way.