North Carolina State spoils FSU’s home opener

Florida State fell to 0-2 on Saturday after falling to North Carolina State 27-21. It was the first time that the team lost a home opener under Jimbo Fisher. The last time this prestigious program started off 0-2? 1989. 28 years. Thankfully, there is hope. In 1989 after starting 0-2 the Seminoles would rebound and finish 10-2. That could be the outlook for the 2017 team as well depending on if they can adjust.

FSU had their struggles on both sides of the ball. Head coach Jimbo Fisher needs to work with his offense on starting faster. The `Noles failed to get a first down over their first two drives of the game. After two drives they were already down 10-0 which probably forced Fisher to go to the air more than he would’ve liked to. True freshman James Blackman attempted 38 passes during his first start compared to 26 rushing attempts by the team.

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1. Veteran receivers

Blackman stuck to finding his experienced receivers during his first start against the Wolfpack. He went to Auden Tate early and often. The 6’4” Tate caught a touchdown in the second quarter, the only time FSU would get into the endzone on Saturday. By halftime, Tate already had a new career-high in receptions with eight. The junior receiver continued his onslaught into the second half. He caught a 51-yard deep ball from Blackman on the `Noles second play of the half. However, Tate was injured on the play and walked off holding his wrist. In total, he finished with nine catches for 138 yards and a score. Fisher said after the game that he didn’t expect the injury to be serious.

Nyqwan Murray finished with five catches for 29 yards after only catching three passes against Alabama. Noonie has struggled to find consistent separation from defensive backs over the first two games. Redshirt sophomore George Campbell had the best game of his career yesterday. He caught three passes for 85 yards including a 60-yard catch and run. It was encouraging to see Campbell make some plays after missing him on the field for almost two years.

2. Cam Akers

Florida State was forced away from their running attack after falling behind, but Cam Akers shined once again in limited reps. The true freshman running back finished the game with 12 carries for 56 yards. He ripped off 14 yard and 16 yard runs on the Seminoles third drive of the game, which were the longest runs by the team this season.

Akers runs with a purpose that most running backs don’t have. He’s not running away from contact, he’s running to make the contact. Unfortunately, current starter Jacques Patrick does not run with the same intensity despite having the frame to deliver damage. Patrick had eight carries for 38 yards and has been out touched by Akers in both games to begin the season. Expect to see Akers taking the starting snaps soon.

3. Special teams

The Seminoles were leaps and bounds better on special teams, the unit that cost them against Alabama. FSU fumbled on a kickoff return, returned a kickoff to the ten, had a punt blocked, and averaged less than 40 yards a punt. It was a catastrophic meltdown against an elite opponent who took full advantage of the miscues.

Logan Tyler punted four times and averaged 47.2 yards per boot including a 54-yarder. Tyler looked a lot more comfortable behind his punts in this game. Derwin James had a 49 yard kick return after the North Carolina State safety. The return game was a lot more dynamic than it was against the Crimson Tide. Sophomore defensive end Brian Burns also blocked a punt. It was an improvement across the board on special teams for FSU.

Ricky Aguayo did miss a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter but he rebounded by making his next four straight attempts. Aguayo needs to continue to work on being consistent on his kicks. He is 4-6 on the season with all of his attempts coming from 30-39 yards.


1. Pass defense

Florida State’s defense certainly didn’t look as elite as they did against Alabama. The `Noles surrendered 255 passing yards. NC State quarterback Ryan Finley completed 22-32 passes for 230 yards and two scores. Finley connected on a 71-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that put the Wolfpack up 17-7. He used a 14-yard shovel pass to give his squad a 27-18 lead in the fourth quarter that forced FSU into panic mode.

The Seminoles defensive backs were routinely getting beat all day. James was the one beaten on the long score while multiple players missed the tackle on the 14-yard touchdown. It was a questionable performance from a team that held the Crimson Tide to 96 passing yards and 269 total yards of offense. FSU was short-handed in the game. Matthew Thomas departed in the first quarter and did not return from a back injury. Jacob Pugh was ejected on a horrible targeting call in the third quarter. Fisher will likely appeal his penalty to make sure Pugh isn’t suspended for the first half against Wake Forest.

One thing is for sure, Charles Kelly needs to make some adjustments throughout his defense to defend the pass better. The defense also was very inconsistent on getting pressure.

2. Redzone offense

The Blackman led offense actually outgained North Carolina State 382-365. The `Noles didn’t have a ton of trouble moving the ball after going three-and-out on the first two drives of the game. They would punt just two more times throughout the contest. However, FSU just couldn’t get into the endzone often.

Despite getting into the redzone six times, Fisher’s offense would only come away with one touchdown. FSU was forced to attempt five fields goal, making four of them. This team will need to take a big step forward inside the 20-yard line if they want to salvage what’s left of the season. Not having Tate in the second half limited Blackman’s choice of having a go-to goal line target.

3. Penalties

North Carolina State was called for six penalties for 41 yards. Pretty reasonable right? Florida State was called for almost double that amount. The `Noles were whistled for 11 penalties that resulted in 93 yards. And a few of the calls were pretty ridiculous.

The aforementioned Pugh was ejected after a terrible targeting call. The senior linebacker was rushing Finley on a passing attempt. Finley wound up to throw the ball and Pugh raised his arms above his head and brought them down into Finley as he threw. The hit was deemed targeting by officials and Pugh was sent to the locker room. Josh Sweat said after the game that if defenders can’t use their hands to play defense then what can they do?

A Derwin James interception was nullified in third quarter after a pass interference call. The ball was deflected before James caught it, interference should’ve been ruled out after the tip. Sophomore offensive lineman Landon Dickerson was also called for a personal foul while tussling with an NC State player after a play.

This Seminole team needs to work on their discipline while hopefully getting a better officiating crew against Wake Forest.

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