Offensive Observations from FSU vs Clemson

A couple of days removed from Saturday’s big matchup, we’ve had time to sit down, collect our thoughts and review the film from Florida State’s 37-34 loss to Clemson, their third loss of the season. At first glance, many fans may be disappointed by this loss, seeing as Florida State had a chance to win the game. Clemson, the No. 2 team in the country per the newly-released playoff poll, was vulnerable and the Seminoles had a chance to capitalize and make a statement on the national stage.

Unfortunately, Clemson pulled away with a late touchdown and escaped from Tallahassee with a victory. Despite this loss, there are several positives that we can take away from this game. This team showed more resilience than it has in perhaps any game this season and nearly upset the No. 2 team in the nation, a team that has not lost a regular season game since 2014. This might be hard to swallow, especially because the scoreboard still shows a loss, but this was perhaps FSU’s best game of the season.

Here are some observations from the offensive side of the ball:

  • Quarterback Deondre Francois (12) continues to show flashes of excellence. He missed some easy throws in this game and took some ugly sacks due to holding onto the ball too long, but also made some NFL-caliber throws. His touchdown pass to Nyqwan Murray before halftime was an elite throw. He also made some nice throws as Florida State was driving late in the game, including their conversion on 3rd and 23 on FSU’s final drive. Yes, he still makes some freshmen mistakes, but the future of bright for this kid.
  • The aforementioned Nyqwan Murray (80) had a breakout performance in this game, catching six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. With Bobo Wilson out with an injury, Murray stepped up in a big way and became FSU’s most reliable receiver for this game. He and Francois connected twice for 45 yards and a touchdown in their drive before halftime and the 5-11 receiver made some big time catches in this game. With Bobo out for the foreseeable future, Murray should continue to see major playing time.
  • It goes without saying, but Dalvin Cook (4) had a monster performance on Saturday. His stat line (19-169-4) doesn’t even tell half of the story. He installed life into this team with his back-t0-back touchdown runs in the second half. For the second year in a row, Cook ran all over Clemson. While he might not be in the Heisman race anymore (due to Florida State’s three loses), NFL scouts are salivating over his talents. He has firmly cemented himself as a first round talent and perhaps one of the best overall players in the 2017 NFL Draft.
  • While Ryan Izzo (81) failed to catch a pass in this game, he was instrumental in the running game. He made several key blocks on Cook’s touchdown runs that set up Cook with a lane to hit. Izzo has continued to develop as a blocker throughout his career at Florida State and is one of the better run blockers on the team. It was also very nice to see him and Cook working in tandem at times during pass protection. It is clear that the coaching staff trusts Izzo and Cook with pass protection responsibilities, which is an encouraging sign.
  • Fullback Freddie Stevenson (23) had perhaps the best game of his career. His big 38-yard run late in the game was fantastic, but he also blocked very well. Yes, the egregious penalty that was called on Stevenson probably was a bad call, but Stevenson was routinely opening holes for Cook throughout the game.
  • While it may be an unpopular opinion, I thought that the offensive line played pretty decently against Clemson’s defensive line. Were they amazing? No, of course not. But Clemson has perhaps the best defensive line in the country, so decent to average play against them should be expected. And I believe that’s what FSU got on Saturday from their OL. People will rag on them for that last drive, when false starts and sacks killed FSU’s potential to score, but they routinely protected Francois throughout the game and opened up some holes in the run game. They were not perfect, but they also were not horrendous like people thought in real time.
  • This may be a look ahead to the future, but I am super excited to see the receiver trio of Murray, Travis Rudolph (15), and Auden Tate (18) in 2017. Murray has established himself as a playmaker out of the slot. Rudolph is always a reliable outside receiver. If Tate can continue to develop and establish himself as a No. 1 option for Francois, Florida State will have a dangerous rotation next year.

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