Florida State rolled up 48 points and an extremely memorable highlight on Boston College yesterday, but that's only half the story.
Fresh off a bye and with two full weeks to prepare, Boston College really gave it to the Seminole defense on Saturday afternoon. Andre Williams racked up 149 yards on 28 carries, the Eagles had 200 on the day and by the final whistle FSU had given up 397 total yards and a career-high four passing touchdowns to BC QB Chase Rettig.
There was a point in this game where Florida State fans couldn't help but get that all-too-familiar feeling of dread in the pit of their stomachs. This started to feel like the typical Seminole-swoon around the start of the 2nd quarter when BC pushed their advantage to 17-3 and FSU's defense was on its heels.
"They caught us with some things and made some plays and got us behind early but the kids kept a lot of poise I think," said Jimbo Fisher after the game.
The Seminoles are not a first-quarter team this season. They have started out three of their four games trailing early and didn't come out firing on all cylinders against Bethune-Cookman two weeks ago either.
It hasn't caught up to FSU yet, but neither has the Seminoles' schedule. FSU has been in the cake-walk segment of their year. Now they have six straight ACC games, a gimme and then end with their rival, UF. Of those eight games, half the teams could legitimately make Florida State pay if they falter early against them.
"We’ve got to learn to start better. We had some mistakes, some critical mistakes I thought on that first drive on offense that were inexcusable," said Fisher. "Thought defensively that after a while we really settled down and started making plays [though]."
FSU's defense did settle down enough to keep the BC offense at bay for most of the second half. But the Eagles did still score 34 and there were more than a few issues that have crept up time and time again over the course of the season for this Seminoles defense.
Problems setting the edge, linebackers having issues in space and penalties have all cost Florida State points and stops, but the most problematic thing facing Fisher and his team right now is the tackling.
There were many points where the scheme was fine, the call was right and the player was in position. But a missed tackle negates all of that.
It could just be an aberration, or it could just have to do with a sport-wide emphasis on safety that has teams tackling less and less in practice. Florida State almost never tackles to the ground, they thud, that's what FSU was doing on Saturday too, thudding but not really wrapping up.
And a big back like Andre Williams didn't go down on just thudding alone yesterday, you have to wrap that sort of RB up.
Whatever the cause, FSU has to address it quickly or else a team like Clemson could really have a field day.
But it's also worth pointing out that sometimes teams just have those kinds of games. Before Seminoles fans chuck the baby with the bathwater, that was a BC team that does one thing well and had two weeks to scheme with it against FSU. Credit Steve Addazio for coming up with a good gameplan that let BC exploit FSU's over-pursuit and some of the problems that had shown up on film in other games.
This very well could be the defensive low-point of FSU's season and will serve as a well-needed catalyst to help push the unit where Fisher and DC Jeremy Pruitt need it to be.
Or it could be a sign of what's to come.
It's too early to tell at this point.
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