The number one Florida State Seminoles have a lot to work on, but the sky is not falling by any means. After a narrow 37-31 victory in Dallas, Texas over Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State, some folks are not happy with the performance by the Seminoles. There are many that think the defending national champions should have won by a much larger victory, especially after the Seminoles jumped out to a 17-0 lead.
The game started out great for Florida State. After a quick three and out by FSU's defense, Jameis Winston and company quickly went down the field and capped off a decent drive with a 36 yd Roberto Aguayo field goal. After awful field position on great pursuit by the kickoff team, J.W. Walsh would throw a pick 6 and the Noles were quickly out in front 10-0. Midway through the second quarter, FSU had a 17-0 lead and to the naked eye it looked as though they were dominating the game. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
On their next possession, OSU would put together about a 4 minute drive and travel 80 yards for a touchdown. They would add a field goal as time expired and go into the half at trailing 17-10.
The game would go up and down with FSU holding the lead through out the second half. A Roberto Aguayo field goal and two electrifying plays by the QB's put the game at at 27-17 at the end of three quarters. Walsh connected on a 55 yard touchdown strike through the air and Winston answered by rumbling 28 yards for a rushing score.
The fourth quarter saw Florida State doing enough to hold on. On a critical drive with the score only 30-24 in favor of Florida State with 4:13 left, Jameis Winston Threaded the needle to Rashad Greene for a 50 yard TD that put the game out of reach. OSU answered with a late TD and failed on the ensuing onside kick, as FSU held on 37-31.
There are many reasons to worry if you are a Noles fan, even if it was only the first game against a quality Big 12 opponent. Winston had two picks and the defense was not the shut down force we last saw in the BCS Title Game. Also, FSU's running game tended to sputter much of the game. The 17-0 lead was followed by a lackadaisical effort that allowed OSU and Walsh to get a rhythm and confidence that led to the game coming down to the fourth.
That is a dangerous habit to get into. A fumble or pick here or there, can lead to a season ruined loss when you are in close games.
The 2013 Noles were legendary by blowing teams out and never letting up on the throttle. Good bowl teams had their doors blown off in the blink of an eye. FSU needs that kind of fire and fear struck into their opponents minds if they are going to get to this year's playoffs.
The good signs were there too on Saturday. Rashad Greene had over 200 yards receiving and Jameis Winston 370 yards passing. Roberto Aguayo looked amazing again with the kicking duties. Kermit Whitfield and Christian Green were dazzling on the few touches they got. There were also flashes of that defensive tenacity throughout the game.
Look for FSU to build on the good and eliminate the bad versus the Citadel on Saturday. The Citadel lost 31-16 to Coast Carolina last week so there is a high probability that FSU will be into the backups by the second half. Improving on Karlos Williams Sr.'s 2.9 yards per carry should be objective number one. They also have to get more than just Rashad Greene involved in the passing game. One receiver catching 55% of the yards is a bad sign for any team. Winston needs to gain confidence in the others now that Kelvin Benjamin is playing on Sundays. The offensive line will be worked on as well. A rhythm has to be found by these veterans before Clemson comes calling on September 20th.
FSU should win this game going away, but that is not the key to Saturday's tilt. Head coach Jimbo Fisher will be looking for both units to be hitting on all cylinders before any substitutions are made. This is the last tune up before conference play begins. And you can bet there are many programs in the ACC that will be looking for revenge after last year's drubbings.