Florida State's defense continues to be a work in progress.
The first half was frustrating for Florida State fans in many ways, namely the defensive line continues to have issues stopping the run and Nevada was able to exploit that several times for nearly 100 yards and a 4.4 yard average in the first half. That doesn't seem like much but Nevada has held the ball for over 17 minutes in the first half and as a result the Seminoles' offense has had very few opportunities to make drives- early on, at least.
The issues have been two-fold for the defense, mistakes in the form of penalties and then mental errors in the form of missed assignments that see players not setting the edge or not maintaining their gap responsibilities allowing the Wolf Pack offense to jump out to a surprising second quarter lead.
Florida State's defense got off the field fairly quickly after surrendering a single first down on Nevada's opening possession. The Seminole offense however was unable to kick things into gear right out of the gate. There were several big plays, including chunk yardage on a run by Devonta Freeman and on a pass over the middle to Kenny Shaw, but a couple of false starts set FSU back and after a close play in the back of the endzone to Kelvin Benjamin on third down, the Seminoles settled for three.
Then something strange happened, Nevada - who typically runs a high-tempo fast-paced brand of offense - came out with a lot of two TE, big personnel-type sets and controlled the ball. At the end of the first quarter FSU had just one offensive possession to its name, Jameis Winston had barely seen the field.
Then, right as Nevada seemed to see daylight - following a 23-yard Chris Solomon rush - they broke that tendency and started to run their up-tempo offense again to put the Seminoles on their heels.
It didn't work the first time, they failed to punch it in and a fake field goal saw the drive end without points. But a Jameis Winston interception shortly into the Seminoles' second drive of the game gave the Wolf Pack the ball back with great field position and a short time later they were able to score on an 11-yard TD pass and go up 7-3.
After a three-and-out on their third possession and a Nevada punt, the Seminole offense finally showed up with around 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter. FSU went seven plays for 92 yards in just a little over two and a half minutes to go up 10-7.
Then things started going FSU's way, a three-and-out followed by another quick scoring drive featuring an exceptional TD catch by Rashad Greene gave FSU a 17-7 halftime lead.
Seminoles fans can breath a little easier now, but Florida State isn't quite out of this one yet either. Depth should begin to help FSU pull away in the second half, but credit Nevada for a great first half.
Passing: Jameis Winston (10/13, 140 3TD, INT)
Rushing: Chris Solomon (15-75)
Receiving: Kenny Shaw (5-72 TD)
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