Florida State started things off on the right foot on Saturday, beating Texas State 59-16 in front of more than 80,000 screaming fans at Doak Campbell Stadium. After a second look, we tell you what went well for the Seminoles in the Week 1 victory and where they can stand to improve.
What Went Right:
Parts of the offensive line – it was noticeable that the left side of the line, anchored by tackle Roderick Johnson and guard Kareem Are, was much better than the right side, with guard Wilson Bell and tackle Brock Ruble. Johnson and Are opened up huge running lanes to the left side and tailbacks Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender ran for the vast majority of their yards behind them. Ruble was playing for the injured starter Derrick Kelly, who in turn is starting because Chad Mavety is struggling with minor off-field issues. The left side was also much better than the right in pass protection, with Ruble in particular giving up plenty of pressure on new FSU quarterback Everett Golson. This offensive line is extremely young and hopefully, will get healthy and gel in the next few weeks.
Golson also had himself a good game, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Another noticeable difference from last year was the play-calling. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher usually likes to pass to set up the run but with Golson, who is still clearly learning the offense, along with an incredibly inexperienced corps of receivers, Fisher chose to run first and have Golson throw off of play-action. It was extremely effective, for whatever that’s worth against Texas State. It’s still a good development because the change in style is something this team needs to be successful this season.
The defense was also excellent, with junior cornerback Jalen Ramsey of course leading the charge. The secondary was fast and aggressive (in Trey Marshall’s case too aggressive) and played very well. Uber-freshman stud safety Derwin James did not play much and it seems he’s still learning the defense, but it’s only a matter of time. The defensive line has pretty good depth and rotated constantly. 2015 No.1 defensive end recruit Josh Sweat appears to be superhuman and almost had a couple sacks just months removed from major knee surgery. If his rehabilitation continues, his pass-rushing abilities could be a revelation later in the season. The linebackers Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup finally looked healthy — something they weren’t for most of last year — and they played extremely well. Also worth noting is that the defense appeared to communicate much better than last year which resulted in far fewer busted coverages.
What Went Wrong:
Special teams were largely horrific. From Cason Beatty regressing to an infuriating 26-yard punt to multiple muffed punt returns, the special teams must get cleaned up. The only bright spots were Jalen Ramsey’s kick return (hilarious and dumb jersey-swapping aside) and of course Lou Groza Award winning kicker Roberto Aguayo, but even he had two kickoffs go out of bounds. If Fisher can get the special teams fixed, this is a well-rounded team that should be competitive in every game.
There’s not much else to take away from a game against an inferior opponent like Texas State but at this point Seminole fans have to be happy with how both the offense and defense played. FSU will host South Florida this Saturday.