Florida State vs. NC State: What We Learned

After a slow start, Florida State scored 27 unanswered points to beat North Carolina State 34-17 in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. Everett Golson started the day at quarterback but Sean Maguire came in after Golson turned the ball over three times. Maguire threw for 231 yards and two scores, but the real start of the game was, as always, Dalvin Cook. The sensational sophomore continued his Heisman campaign with 138 yards and two scores on the ground even after pulling up early in the game with a hamstring injury. Charles Kelly’s defense held NC State scoreless in the second half en route to a 17-point victory by Florida State, their eighth on the season.

What Did We Learn?

Maguire is the guy: Everett Golson started the game at quarterback but Jimbo Fisher yanked him after three turnovers. Sean Maguire came in and immediately sparked the offense and crowd. He finished the game with 231 yards and two scores, but had an ugly interception when he tried to throw the ball away under pressure. However, he connected with Kermit Whitfield twice for scores and showed some surprising mobility as well to get away from pressure in the pocket. Overall, it was a good performance by Maguire and he should remain the starter for the final games of the season. Neither quarterback is a game-changer, but Maguire’s knowledge of the passing system is clearly an advantage.

Dalvin Cook is literally a robot: Despite his lingering hamstring injury, Dalvin Cook put up another terrific performance in his Heisman campaign. Early in the game, Cook went down holding his hamstring and it looked bad, almost as if he had finally tore the ligament. However, Cook came back into the game and finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. In this game, Cook also broke Warrick Dunn’s single season rushing record despite only playing in nine games so far. With three games left on the schedule (including the bowl game), Cook has a chance to put up set the standard high for future running backs at Florida State.

The offensive line is still a question: Florida State started this game with yet another combination along the offensive line, this time kicking Chad Mavety out to right tackle after playing him at left guard the past couple of games. This might have been the combination that coaches wanted at the start of the season, but injuries and inconsistent play forced Rick Trickett to switch his linemen around to find the best lineup. It looks as if Alec Eberle has finally solidified the center position, but left guard and right tackle are still big questions. If Kareem Are is healthy, he’s a solid starter at left guard. Right tackle has been a revolving door of players, but if Mavety can hold down his spot that’s an encouraging sign for the final games of the season.

Javien Elliott a phenomenon: Javien Elliott has been playing phenomenal football ever since he came in during the Louisville game. A former walk-on, Elliott earned a scholarship in the offseason and has rewarded Jimbo Fisher with terrific play at the “star” position. In this game, he forced a fumble and provided several stops behind the line of scrimmage. Elliott might not be the biggest or fastest player on the field, but he is playing with a ton of heart and has definitely made the most out of his final season of collegiate football.

Walker and White are raising their NFL stock: Demarcus Walker and Marquez White are two juniors who came into this season with relatively no NFL buzz. Walker played good in 2013 as a sophomore, but not well enough to warrant NFL attention. White, on the other hand, spent the last two season as a backup to future NFL defensive backs. But now, both are gaining draft momentum and have been two of the best players on Florida State’s defense. White has been a lockdown corner opposite of Jalen Ramsey and Walker is having a phenomenal season both as a run-stopper and a pass rusher. Neither is forced to leave after this year, but both will definitely look into their draft stock as the season comes to an end.

Jimbo Fisher and the coaching staff should be very encouraged by this win. Maguire and Cook sparked the offense and the defense shut out NC State in the final three quarters. They limited future NFL quarterback Jacoby Brissett and moved the ball well against NC State’s defense. With two games remaining in the regular season, Florida State has a chance to end the season on the high note especially if they can upset Florida in the final game of the season.

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