For the first time since 1976, Florida State dropped its fourth season opener in a row.
The similarities to last year’s opener are eerie. The Seminoles started strong, shutting out the Yellow Jackets for the entirety of the first half. The offense was crisp on the first drive, going 52 yards to the house. But they couldn’t put the Jackets away, and Tech hung around and ultimately come back for a 16-13 victory.
One of the recent glaring weaknesses has been the teams’ ability to respond to adversity. And when adversity struck, FSU folded.
Florida State looked like an entirely different team at the beginning of the game. The defense got into the backfield often, and Asante Samuel took advantage of the mayhem with two first-half picks. The Ramblin’ Wreck attempted six drives and ended the half with two punts, two field goals blocked, and two interceptions.
The offense started just as hot. Quarterback James Blackman went 3-for-3 passing, ending the drive with a 3-yard strike to Keyshawn Helton for the touchdown. The next drive ended in a field goal, after some classic ACC referee tomfoolery reverted a converted third down pass.
Although the offense slowed, the defense held strong. The Seminoles entered halftime with a 10-0 lead, and they were getting the ball back to start the second half.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
A glaring issue for Florida State in recent years has been its offensive line. Lack of depth and discipline once again plagued the unit during the second half.
The Seminole offense wasn’t able to establish the run and the receivers had a case of the drops, leading to a punt on the first drive. Georgia Tech was ready, retaliating with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that finished with a 19-yard touchdown run by running back Jordan Mason.
Florida State answered with a field goal, but those would be the last points it would score. The Yellow Jackets were unstoppable on the following drive, going 72 yards downfield to score another touchdown. If not for the third blocked kick of the night on the extra point, Georgia Tech would’ve taken the lead.
The score was tied at 13-13, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
A drop and two sacks later, James Blackman fumbled the ball and Georgia Tech took over at the FSU 11-yard line. The Seminole defense held their opponents to only a field goal, keeping the score at 16-13.
With 8:56 left to play, the offense showed they still have a lot of work to do. The injured offensive line could not keep the pocket clean, and Florida State fumbled again. After a miracle stop by the defense, the offense once again could not make a play.
The Yellow Jackets assumed victory formation with 55 seconds on the clock.
- The starting offensive lineup, when healthy, blocked well and kept a mostly clean pocket
- Special teams were phenomenal, blocking three kicks and mostly controlling field position
- The defense was solid, getting stops when it needed to and forcing two turnovers
- Could not establish the running game, averaging only 2.6 yards per rush
- Three turnovers.
- Poor third down efficiency, converting 6 of 17
- Wide receivers dropped far too many passes
- Injury luck. All five starting offensive linemen left the game for a time and star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh exited early.