Florida State vs Chattanooga: What We Learned

There’s not much to take away from any game against an FCS team, and less to take away from a game featuring two teams that are looking to a future matchup more so than the one at hand. Florida State travels to Gainesville to face the Gators in their final game of the regular season while Chattanooga is preparing for a first round bye in the FCS playoffs. So while I’m sure each coaching staff would have liked to call this game at halftime, we still got to see some of the younger players in extended snaps for the first, and probably last, time this season and got to honor the senior Seminoles in their final game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

It was clear from the first quarter that Jimbo Fisher was not going to take Dalvin Cook out early in this game. While fans might have wanted Fisher to rest his star player for next week, Cook played well into the third quarter and finished with 106 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Cook’s name has chilled in the Heisman conversation, but there is no denying the amazing performances he is putting up on a week to week basis, on one hamstring no less. Early in the first quarter, Cook had to leave the game with hamstring tightness but came back in to finish the game. He is already rewriting the record books at Florida State and is quickly entrenching himself as the best running back to ever don the garnet and gold.

Sean Maguire and the passing offense had a fairly consistent day as Maguire finished 12/17 for 152 yards and two scores, both to Kermit Whitfield. With Florida on deck, Jimbo Fisher took no chances with Maguire’s health and pulled him early in the third quarter. J.J. Consentino came on in backup duties, ahead of senior Everett Golson, and engineered an impressive touchdown drive. Consentino had the opportunity to display his strong arm that has fans and coaches excited for his potential.

Speaking of Kermit Whitfield, it is amazing to see the transformation he has had this season. Viewed as simply a returner and situational player his first two years on campus, Whitfield is one of Florida State’s most consistent receivers this season and is tied for first in catches with Travis Rudolph (51), second in receiving yards (690) and tied with Rudolph for touchdowns (6). Jimbo Fisher and Lawrence Dawsey deserve credit for scheming up ways to get the ball into his hands to take advantage of his world-class speed. On another note, Nyqwan Murray wasn’t the most highly touted recruit coming out of high school, but the coaching staff seems to really like him so far. Murray has been working as the fifth receiver coming off the bench and finished this game with 4 catches for 59 yards, both career highs.

The offensive line had a good day in both pass protection and run blocking. Florida State finished the day with 193 yards on the ground and averaged 5.2 yards per rush. Perhaps the most impressive performance came from Roderick Johnson matched up against Keionta Davis, a Chattanooga defensive linemen who is on the watch list for FCS Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson held Davis mostly in check for the game, which is expected of Florida State’s best offensive lineman.

Defensively, Florida State continued its NCAA-best streak of not allowing more than 25 points in a game. Chattanooga, which is known for its rushing attack, only had 165 yards on the ground averaged 4.2 yards per rush. Of course, Chattanooga continues its rushing attack when the game was well out of hand, partly to make sure they escaped without any injuries. Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman, son of head coach Russ Huesman, scored his 100th career touchdown on a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

There isn’t really much to take away from the defensive performance when Chattanooga was trying to run out of the clock for the majority of the game. Yes, they did give up some yards early in the game but held strong in the red zone and limited them to two field goals until late in the game. It seemed as if Derwin James made the first dozen tackles and the freshman safety continues to amaze fans and coaches alike. Senior Lamarcus Brutus ended his time in Doak Campbell Stadium with an interception that he returned to the 13-yard line (he later joked that he went down on purpose to help set up a Dalvin Cook touchdown and thereby help his Heisman campaign).

On a day where Florida State was favored by 30 points, the ‘Noles did what they were supposed to do and won by 39 points. Next week, they travel to Gainesville to face a Florida team that needed overtime to squeak by 2-8 Florida Atlantic. If Florida State can secure a victory, it will help their case for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Leave a Reply