The Florida State Seminoles fell short ending their season in an upsetting loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday. A game where nearly everything in the officiating book and under the sun came into play involved targeting, multiple unsportsmanlike penalties, and punches thrown, made it a classic rivalry in it’s own right, starting and ending in an abject fashion. Although the Seminoles ultimately fell to the Gators there were some bright and dark moments in the 24-21 loss. So what happened? What went right? What went wrong? The Tomahawk Nation staff sat down to answer a few questions about the matchup and give some insight into the loss:
What went right on offense? What went wrong?
Tommy: Changing three quarterbacks in the first 17 snaps is never a good thing for any team. Jordan Travis’ injuries made the beginning of this game feel like it was over before it began and that feeling never really went away. UF was able to remove the run game from FSU’s offense only allowing 145 total on the ground with Travis accounting for 100 and that to me is what went wrong offensively. What went right comes from those 100 yards Travis mustered which opened up his ability to move the ball through the air 18-29 for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Perry: As always, Jordan Travis. The redshirt sophomore went down early after being hurt on a sack, but rallied back and gritted out a performance that saw him produce the bulk of FSU’s offensive success. FSU’s inability to do anything outside of his big plays, especially when he went down, combined with struggles on third down (an issue all year for the Seminoles) led to its inability to produce points.
Jon: Travis' injury and the offensive line being banged up. UF controlled the line of scrimmage and limited FSU's rushing game. Brenton Cox harassed Travis all game. Consequently, FSU did not take advantage of UF's mistakes, including Emory Jones' three interceptions.
What went right on defense? What went wrong?
Tommy: Emory Jones throwing three interceptions went right. Actually the secondary for the most part did a good job keeping the big plays out of the game and played fairly well. Jammie Robinson led the team in tackles with 18 followed by DJ Lundy and Kalen DeLoach. What went wrong? The emotions ran a little too high for this team and stupid penalties cost them a lot of yards. The wheel route has constantly been exploited this season and once the Gators committed to the run in the 4th quarter to drain the clock it seemed everyone was gassed.
Perry: Three interceptions is a fantastic stat to put up, especially when it continued a now eight-game streak of picks, but when you allow a team to convert 11 of 19 third downs, it’s not going to matter much. FSU only forced 3 three-and-outs throughout the day, with the Gators putting up 357 yards of total offense.
Jon: I thought FSU's defense and UF's offense were closer in talent. FSU dominated up front early and really shut down the Gators' rushing attack. But it was a bad matchup for FSU - the Gators' short quick passing game really exploited FSU's lack of athleticism in space and coverage ability in the short underneath zones. UF converted more than 70% of their third downs through the first three quarters and finished something like 11/15 on third downs. Brutal. They held steady for a while and three interceptions is very good, but the Seminoles' defense lost a war of attrition and were worn down throughout the game. UF ran close to 66 plays thru three quarters.
What play changed the game?
Tommy: Two plays, the muffed punt, and the muffed on-side kick. Had the muffed punt return by Ontaria Wilson not happened there wouldn't be such a deficit to come back from after allowing points off that turnover. The muffed kick, I mean, that just doesn't happen. It was such a strange way to end the game but had so much potential to make this one for the ages.
Perry: Jordan Travis’ sack on the Seminoles’ first drive of the game where he injured his shoulder. It prevented FSU from doing anything on offense for the majority of the first half, setting it up for its desperate dash for points in the fourth quarter.
Jon: Ontaria Wilson's muffed punt. FSU's special teams has been terrible all year and unfortunately it never got corrected.
Who’s your MVP?
Tommy: It’s gotta be Jordan Travis. Battling through injuries and really putting the team on his back to keep this as close he did was commendable. When he was out of the game and in the locker room it looked like the offense had nowhere to go and when he came back in it added a much-needed spark.
Perry: There’s really no other option than Travis here, really. You saw how valuable he was to the team when he was out, to the point that FSU’s offense could not function without him in the huddle. He gritted out a game in which he was hurt from it initial series, and it's really encouraging knowing how well he’s progressed this season.
Jon: Travis on offense. He's the team's most valuable player.
What’s your main takeaway?
Tommy: My main takeaway is that we have seen so much growth from this team it is incredible. Starting off 0-4 looking hopeless turning into a feared defense and explosive offense, I think the team fought through adversity and showed major improvement.
Perry: Despite the progress made over the course of the year, the cracks in the foundation were still made apparent by showing that FSU still does not have the ability to 100 percent control the tide of a game. The 2021 season was a step forward for the program, one especially aided by a win over other rival Miami, but there are some easily identifiable weak points that will need to be addressed for a successful 2022 campaign.
Jon: This was a successful season for FSU but this game will leave a bad taste in the mouth of FSU fans for a long time. The loss to Jacksonville State really killed you. FSU should be going bowling. This was a winnable game, but really bad mistakes and bad luck with the early injury to Travis negating the benefit you might have otherwise gotten from UF's turnovers doomed what could have been a very sweet victory. I knew the Gators would come out fighting for an interim coach, but I was disappointed in two ways - that FSU didn't match that intensity and that they allowed UF players to get to them mentally. The Gators certainly appeared to want to bait FSU into chippy play and it worked and it felt like FSU lost focus.
Still, FSU won 5 of their last 8 games and split with their rivals. It was the "lose a little" season and FSU lost again by one score. Time to move on and keep climbing.