Florida State holds on to defeat Duke

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Florida State (2-3) fought off a scrappy Duke (4-3) team to win 17-10. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Seminoles did enough, in the end, to pull out the victory.

FSU scored on their first drive but was held in check for most of the game by a stout Duke defense. The `Noles used a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Cam Akers to secure the win. Jimbo Fisher’s squad is now 2-0 in the state of North Carolina and 0-2 in Doak Campbell Stadium. Certainly a peculiar stat.

Louisville travels to Tallahassee on Saturday, October 15 for a noon matchup with the Seminoles. The Cardinals are reeling after a home loss to Boston College that saw them put up 625 yards of offense. Charles Kelly and crew will have their hands full against reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who accounted for 362 yards last year in Louisville’s huge win over FSU.

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1. Running Backs

Florida State’s running game made things a lot easier on true freshman quarterback James Blackman yesterday. The `Noles rushed for 228 yards as Jacques Patrick, Akers, and Amir Rasul saw time in the backfield. Patrick had 18 carries for 98 yards and continued to run with physicality. He ran through arm tackles all game and was a handful to bring down. The junior running back has stepped up this season to create a two-headed monster attack with star freshman Cam Akers.

Akers had 15 carries for 115 yards and the first touchdown of his career in the win over Duke. The true freshman continued to show off his talent. He put his head down and trucked a Blue Devil defender on a run in the first half. Akers gave the Seminoles lead in the fourth quarter. He took a carry on 3rd and 2 up the middle and shook off a Duke defender before exploding up the right side for a score. Rasul had two carries for 16 yards of his own and showed off elusiveness when he got in the game. Fullback Jonathan Vickers had a couple catches for 29 yards. He made big plays in the passing game to continue drives.

2. Playcalling

Head coach Jimbo Fisher finally made things a little easier on his true freshman quarterback against Duke. Fisher had essentially been chewing the clock in games over the past few weeks, focusing on pounding the ball on the ground. Blackman threw only seven times in the first half against Wake Forest. He had 52 passing yards in the opening 30 minutes against Miami but most of them came on quick passes or bubble screens.

Fisher used misdirection and play action to put Blackman in space to be able to make plays with his arm against Duke. Rolling his quarterback out of the pocket helped hide the struggles across the offensive line. Blackman routinely had ample time to read the field and complete throws. The extra time and savvy play calls helped the freshman showcase his abilities. Blackman finished 18 of 21 passing for 197 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

3. Noonie Murray

FSU’s top returning receiver in 2017 finally had a breakout game. Junior Nyqwan Murray caught five passes for 81 yards. Prior to the game against Duke, he only had 10 total catches for 99 yards. Murray needs to build on this positive outing and keep working on his consistency.

The junior receiver made a mental mistake when he lined up wrong in the second quarter. Murray caught a 36-yard pass on the play but it was called back for an ineligible receiver downfield due to Noonie covering up another player. He made up for his mistake on the next drive. Murray caught a pass from Blackman on a crossing route and cut up the left sideline for a gain of 38 yards, his longest catch of the season thus far.

Hopefully, the successful game gets Noonie out his funk. He was electric down the stretch in 2016.


1. Charles Kelly

This is quickly becoming a weekly thing. Personally, it seems like the talent is there on Florida State’s defense, but the players haven’t been in the position to make plays. Duke had a third and five in the first quarter. Kelly lined his defensive backs up ten yards away from the receivers and they backpedaled even more after the snap. A Blue Devil receiver ran a curl route right at the first down marker and got it easily due to the defensive alignment.

Later in the game, Kelly would be outwitted yet again. This time Duke had a third and 17, Kelly ran a press coverage and had seven players in the box. The Blue Devils quarterback rolled out of the pocket away from the pressure and launched a pass downfield that was caught by a receiver who had broken away from the man coverage. This is starting to get old.

2. Tarvarus McFadden

McFadden had a bad game against Miami last Saturday. The Hurricanes caught the game-winning touchdown over him and made him look average for much of the game. You’d think the junior cornerback would want to come out and prove his performance was a fluke, instead, he did the exact opposite.

The preseason All-American looked soft and disinterested for much of the day. He was the player who missed the tackle on Duke’s only touchdown of the afternoon. The Blue Devils also took advantage of him on the last drive of the game. We’re starting to see what McFadden looks like when he isn’t making plays. He’s been exposed the last two weeks.

3. Offensive line

Florida State’s offensive line gave up two sacks against Duke and allowed a fair amount of pressure from the Blue Devil defense all day. James Blackman took some brutal hits and he looked gimpy after the game.

The day got even worse for Rick Trickett’s group when Derrick Kelly went down with an injury. The `Noles were already starting their backup offensive tackle, Josh Ball, due to the season-ending injury to Landon Dickerson last week. Brock Ruble came in to replace Kelly and the left side of the offensive line was shaky for the remainder of the game. Things will get even uglier on the offensive front if Kelly is forced to miss extended time, and that’s saying something.

Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Staff Writer for the FSView and contributor for Celtics Hub.

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