Florida State Seminoles football stood strong on the road in the team’s ACC opener vs. Louisville, coming back to take the lead late against the Cardinals to secure a 35-31 victory.
FSU is 3-0 for the first time since 2015, as well as 1-0 in the ACC for the first time in that time span as well.
Here’s some thoughts from the Tomahawk Nation staff after the Seminoles’ second-straight thriller.
What’s your main takeaway from FSU vs. Louisville?
LastNoleOfKrypton: An FSU team hasn’t fought this hard since Jameis Winston was on campus and that’s why they’re 3-0.
Perry: I can’t tell you a Florida State team in recent memory that would’ve been able to outlast that level of adversity. There were plenty of headscratchers that we can analyze tomorrow — for now, FSU is 3-0.
Juan Montalvo III: HELL YEAH BROTHER 3-0
Ben M: This is such a weird team and this year will continue to be the most unpredictable rollercoaster - like Game of Thrones anything can happen at anytime ever. Anyone could die and you shouldn’t be too fond of your favorite characters. Chaos is a ladder and somehow this team is 3-0.
Evan Johnson: They won. FSU won the dang game when everything was going against them. That’s not how it’s happened for the better part of the last 10 years but it’s how it happened tonight. Down the best QB the school has seen since Jameis Winston and three impactful defensive players FSU held Louisville to 10 points in the second half. Both the coaches and players adjusted to circumstances and adversity and persevered. Sure they got a bit lucky but they took advantage of those lucky opportunities. You can’t ask much more from this team.
Jon M: Without Jordan Travis they found a way.
Gwyn Rhodes: No thoughts, just tate rodemaker
How did Florida State win?
Perry: Relying on its strengths. The run game helped keep the offense chugging as it figured itself out following the injury to Jordan Travis, Norvell made sure to use the giant, athletic freak that is Johnny Wilson and the defense held as steady as it could against Louisville’s own freak athlete, Malik Cunningham.
LastNoleOfKrypton: By relying on its superior depth; holding Louisville to 10 second half points showed the kind of depth they have on both sides of the line despite multiple people going down with injuries.
Ben M: I’m still not sure that they did I may have blacked out. They ran the damn ball and played just enough defense to win that game. Tate had a trademark INT out of the gate and then came out of the second half with just enough to push this team over the edge. He had some clutch moments, what a game for him and Johnny Wilson.
Evan Johnson: Anybody who says they know is lying. Nobody would have expected Tate to throw some of those passes. That TD to Wilson over Brownlee was pretty. Yes, Wilson has quite a bit of height on Brownlee but the pass was perfect. I guess ultimately they stepped up. They called and executed a very good game plan with Tate in as QB and turned things around on the defensive end by tightening up their coverage and going away from the zone a bit. None of that feels like the right answer though. The answer is that they took advantage of almost every opportunity they could.
Juan Montalvo III: I’m not a soft factor guy, but the first thing I’ll point out is a soft factor: will. We’ve seen a lot of FSU teams lose this game in the last 10 years. Setting aside intangibles, depth across the defensive line. Jared Verse and Fabian Lovett weren’t around for the second half, and on top of that Duke Cooper wasn’t there in the back end. Despite losing their best two DL, in the final Louisville drive, Fuller was able to rush four with Deloach spying, and it worked excellently. No prevent tonight.
Tommy Mire: If this is the type of win that we should start getting used to then A. I’m here for it and B. I’m starting to realize that the win close stage of this rebuild is more stressful than just outright getting blown out. Tonight we saw a team that took charge of adversity and held on (even excelled in some areas) when teams in the past would’ve laid down and quit. The season might not solely depend on the extent of Jordan Travis’ injury but that is definitely something to pay attention to moving forward.
Jon M: I have no idea. It doesn’t make any sense.
Gwyn Rhodes: Other than some weird magic that seems to happen every time we play at Louisville (good and bad), defense stuck their ground and made the big plays when it was needed the most. Rodemaker stepped into huge shoes that many doubted he could fill.
What do you make of FSU’s defense three games in?
Perry: They have left a bit to be desired in terms of dictating the game rather than reacting to it, but you’d be a pretty big stickler to think that the unit overall hasn’t impressed so far. The linebacker duo of Kalen DeLoach and Tatum Bethune is unreal.
LastNoleOfKrypton: This is a unit with better depth than top-end talent but the one thing I learned is that the unit just doesn’t make a lot of mental mistakes. That will keep you in and help you win ball games.
Evan Johnson: I have thought very highly of the defensive unit this year but this first half was a struggle. I think it took them too long to adjust by going away from the zone a bit but once they did they looked like what I expected. They aren’t great but they are good enough for this team to accomplish their goals and, hopefully, show some recruits what they could be at FSU. Maybe the biggest change from this year to the last is the depth on the defensive line. Even without a Jermaine Johnson off the edge this unit looks to be better and can rotate enough to not get worn down. Hopefully Verse and Lovett can get back soon to keep that depth, and higher end talent in their case, strong.
Juan Montalvo III: this is a good unit. They aren’t elite, and that’s fine - there aren’t a dozen blue chip kids along the line like Georgia or Alabama. They play well together and have proven themselves at key moments two games in a row. Their depth along the line, as well as finally having competent linebacker play, allows them to play a full slate of defensive coverages without major compromises. That flexibility is huge.
Ben M: This is a very solid defense with few weaknesses and nice depth across the entire roster. Losing that many defensive linemen in that game and not having Fabien Lovett is concerning. If they can figure out how to get more pressure and contain QBs better they could be very good.
Jon M: I don’t know where to start. They are both as good and as bad as we’ve seen.
This is not a question, but merely a free space for you to talk about how good Johnny Wilson is
Perry: Like.........how did he do all of that? I mean this as nicely as possible while also giving full credit for making the passes, but he made Tate Rodemaker look phenomenal on a couple of throws and uh, that has not happened frequently in his three seasons in Tallahassee. Wilson put together one of the better receiving games in FSU history — he didn’t set any records nor was his effort in a championship situation, but rising to the occasion in that environment with those outside factors cannot be lauded enough.
LastNoleOfKrypton: Andre Ware called him baby Mike Evans and that is the first time that fool has ever said anything that I will agree with. The best game by a FSU WR in a long time he has beyond rare movement skills for a 6’7 frame. The move he put on the UL CB for his first TD was Travis Kelce-like.
Ben M: He has by far the biggest upside of any FSU receiver since Kelvin Benjamin - that was quite the performance from him and he deserves huge praise. He was up and down somewhat in the off-season but showed just how good he can be. I wanna see how he continues to build on this performance and has big NFL potential.
Evan Johnson: Honestly this is what everybody hoped and knew Johnny Wilson can be. If he can hold onto the ball he’s 2013 Kelvin Benjamin. Thus far he’s done exactly that. He’s not just a one-trick pony as he more than showed tonight, getting open with his route running and his size, but he’s shown the ability to make the contested catches. Now the question is where does he go from here? Can he maintain this level consistently? He’s got a lot of money riding on that answer.
Juan Montalvo III: FSU has had some good individual receivers over the last decade - Tamorrion Terry, Auden Tate, Travis Rudolph. All were good players, but this is the best individual receiver performance I can recall since Kelvin Benjamin in the 2013 UF game. Sure, the above trio had larger yardage totals, but the spectacular catches and plays JOHNNY! had today are unparalleled since KB made the Gators look silly a decade ago.
Tommy Mire: Hey Johnny — good job. I don’t think FSU would’ve won the game without an absolutely solid performance from you.
Jon M: That guy is tall as hell and has been better as a receiver than I gave him credit for.
Gwyn Rhodes: Buying his jersey as we speak, thank YOU Arizona State