Florida State took a leap in the right direction over the course of 2022, writing all the wrongs of the first 2 seasons of the Mike Norvell regime.
But this season had one last test of the season for Norvell, who had not beaten the Florida Gators since arriving in Tallahassee (2020’s game was canceled).
And, despite a fierce Florida upset bid, Norvell and his squad passed it. While the offense was not perfect, Jordan Travis put the team on his back and the Seminoles put up 45 points versus a state rival. The team finished with nearly 500 yards of offense and needed every single part of it to outlast the Gators.
What went right
Trey Benson is a stud and it only took two carries for him to score on FSU’s second offensive possesion. The ‘Noles have been elite with explosive plays, he continued that with a huge 45-yard run.
Benson will be an NFL running back — book it.
While they could not convert on 4th down and long, their next possession led to a 29-yard Jordan Travis TD.
At that point, the game was tied and the ‘Noles may have left some points on the board but they showed why their offense was so special. They went 75 yards in 2:38 of game time.
Jordan Travis is so amazing (just a small part of what was yet to come)...
The Seminoles then put together another big play drive finishing with a Jordan Travis TD.
This first play would not count but Travis ran it in the next play.
Jordan’s elusiveness is unmatched. He was the ultimate x-factor against the Gators.
In the second half, Jordan really put the team on his back, they opened the second half with 10 straight points and it was all Jordan. He was magic in the backfield, escaping constant pressure from the Gators.
While his receivers were letting him down early they made some nice possession catches to keep pushing the ball downfield. Both Mycah Pittman and Malik McClain had important catches in the third quarter.
Here was the big throw to Malik and the near TD that was eventually overturned...
The Seminoles were so dominant in the third quarter scoring 17 points in three straight drives. They averaged 6.1 yards per play and were crucially 4-6 on third down.
In the fourth quarter, it was a struggle to get the offense going but they were able to score and drive down the field when they needed to with the game tied at 38-38.
Jordan was the offense in this game. He accounted for 353 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns (it could have been one more). This was what he has done all season and now he did it in the most important moment of the season.
In the second half, the offense was very efficient averaging 5.8 yards per play and going a combined 7-10 on third and fourth down conversions. They were clutch in the most crucial moments.
Trey Benson finished with 111 rushing yards and three touchdowns - that marks 4 of his last 5 games with at least 100+ rushing yards. Since Treshaun Ward went down with injury he has taken over the backfield and is now 35 yards away from breaking 1,000 yards on the season.
What went wrong
It’s not great to lose a fumble on a third and long conversion on your first drive - but the Gators also didn’t make the most of it.
The Seminoles were too mistake-prone to start, with penalties, a fumble, and a strange 4th and 12 decision to go for it. They had too many compounding bad plays early on and could have scored more early.
While the offense was moving the ball well in the first half the wide receivers were letting down their offense with drops, fumbles, and missed opportunities.
I believe the Seminoles had 6 drops from pass-catchers in the first half, that just isn’t good enough in a close rivalry game. Travis threw many catchable balls that were not completed.
They left points on the board in the first half.
While it was all Seminoles in the third quarter they did not start the 4th quarter well as they had multiple opportunities to steal momentum from the Gators and just were not able to.
Jordan Travis got hit and was clearly bothered by it, while the Gators were building momentum the ‘Noles offense started stalling at the beginning of the 4th quarter.