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Three thoughts from FSU’s blowout loss to Clemson

Well, the best part about Saturday’s game is that it’s over. Florida State has to figure out what it did wrong, burn the tape, and get back to work. 2019 isn’t even close to over. The Seminoles are currently sitting at 3-3 (2-2 ACC) and have a solid chance to get to at least six wins and a bowl game.

ACC title contention is essentially out of the question at this point with two conference losses but the ‘Noles still have a chance to finish the season over .500 in-conference for the first time since 2016. It’d be a big step forward following a 3-5 finish in the ACC last year.

Here are three thoughts from FSU’s 45-14 loss to Clemson:

1. Florida State didn’t quit

After the Seminoles got smacked by the Tigers 59-10 in 2018, it was the first time we ever saw head coach Willie Taggart call out his team for quitting during a game. It was clear that FSU gave up and that became the theme of its season following the loss. They lost three of their final four games while not making a bowl game for the first time since many fans have been alive.

One thing is for sure from Saturday. Despite being outmatched and overpowered, Florida State didn’t quit in this game. I thought the ‘Noles fought hard for 60 minutes, they just simply aren’t as good as Clemson. The offensive line got dominated while Trevor Lawrence eviscerated the secondary for three touchdowns.

Down 42-0 in the third quarter, there’s no doubt that FSU had the opportunity to quit against the Tigers. Instead, the offense fought their way to two touchdowns while the defense stopped Clemson on a few fourth downs for pride. The mentality of this team is ten-fold what it was a year ago. Now it’s all about how the ‘Noles respond.

2. The two-quarterback experiment isn’t viable moving forward

While it may have been an interesting wrinkle against Louisville, it’s obvious that Florida State’s two-quarterback system isn’t the best option for this team going into the final six games of 2019. It’s just too hard to sustain consistent success when you’re constantly flip-flopping between signal-callers. James Blackman played just two, albeit unsuccessful, drives against Clemson before being pulled for Alex Hornibrook, who promptly tossed a terrible interception.

From there, it was basically all downhill in the passing game. Blackman threw a pick, and on the ensuing return, FSU lost starting wide receiver Keyshawn Helton for the season due to a leg injury. Later in the contest, Blackman threw a pick-six. All in all, it was an ugly outing for QB’s wearing garnet and gold.

Hornibrook (8/12, 84 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and Blackman (9/23, 66 yards, 2 INT) combined to go just 17/35 for 150 yards with one touchdown compared to three interceptions. A mind-boggling stat? The two combined for a 12.3 QBR. Lawrence had a 95.6 QBR alone and running back Travis Etienne had a 45.6 QBR on one attempted pass. Basically, Hornibrook and Blackman were REALLY bad.

Taggart and Kendal Briles have to settle on a starting quarterback for the Seminoles. It doesn’t matter which one of the two it is but they can’t continue to split snaps between both players. Not only does it get the quarterback out of rhythm, it’s also very confusing for the offensive skill players.

It’s a decision we’ll be monitoring throughout the week.

3. The ‘Noles can still go bowling in 2019

Regardless of the disaster in Death Valley, FSU still has plenty of opportunity over its next six games to generate enough wins to get to bowl eligibility. The ‘Noles are 3-3 with road trips to Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida as well as home games against Syracuse, Miami, and Alabama State remaining.

Personally, I think three wins is the bare minimum that Florida State comes out of this six-game slate with. Obviously you can pencil in ASU as win while I also believe the Seminoles will come out on top of a struggling Syracuse at home and an ailing Boston College on the road.

Outside of that, it’s going to be a grind. Wake Forest is going to be rocking following a loss to Louisville last weekend and it’s no guarantee FSU walks out with a win. Miami and Florida will both be tough rivalry games, more so the Gators. The ‘Noles will be trying to avoid three straight losses to Miami and two straight to Florida after dominating both opponents for the better part of a decade prior to this stretch.


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