What seemed like a sure-fire victory for the ’Noles in their season-opener Saturday under a new head coach morphed into a nightmare for a once-proud program.
FSU Coach Mike Norvell could only look on in dismay as his team was outscored 16-3 in the second half in a 16-13 loss to Georgia Tech, a team that had never won in Tallahassee.
This marks the fourth straight year that Florida State has lost its season opener under three different coaches. Jimbo Fisher, Willie Taggart and now Norvell all brought different coaching styles to this FSU team. However, no coaching style has brought the team a win in their season opener.
The ’Noles came out strong in the first half. During the first quarter, Camren McDonald made a huge 27-yard catch, putting the ‘Noles inside the 10. During the next drive, quarterback James Blackman connected with wide receiver Keyshawn Helton for a three-yard touchdown.
Early in the game, the ’Noles looked polished. Blackman was able to get the offense going early with precise passes.
After two weather delays, the ’Noles resumed the game with 8:05 left in the first quarter, leading 7-0. Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims not only played in the first game of his college career but he baffled FSU’s defense.
Sims totaled 341 yards (277 passing, 64 rushing) and picked up three third downs by himself. Although Sims walked all over the FSU defense, players like Asante Samuel Jr. served as a vital threat to Georgia Tech’s offense.
The 5-foot-10, 180 pound defensive back picked off two huge passes in the first half. Samuel explained his competitiveness throughout the game. “Film study and just determination to win. I’ve been watching those same plays on film and when I see it, I just had to react and make a play,” Samuel said at the post-gram press conference.
With a minute left in the first quarter, FSU was forced to kick a field goal, making the lead 10-0 at halftime. During the third quarter, Jordan Mason was able to get a 19-yard run touchdown, allowing Georgia Tech to get on the scoreboard.
Later in the third quarter, Blackman was unable to connect with any receivers. A 53-yard field goal attempt was made by Parker Grothaus and the ‘Noles led the game 13- 7.
In the fourth quarter the ‘Noles proved their comeback, was too good to be true. Due to poor offensive line coverage, Blackman was sacked on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. With 13:17 left to go in the game, Malachi Carter completed a 15-yard reception, leaving the game tied.
Janarius Robinson was able to block the extra-point attempt,.However, it wasn’t enough to save the ’Noles. Blackman fumbled the ball on the next drive, leaving the game in the hands of Georgia Tech.
Jude Kelly made a 32-yard field goal attempt and secured the win for the Yellow Jackets.
What does this FSU team need to do in order to win?
Fans, coaches and players are still trying to figure that out.
Key players like Marvin Wilson briefly expressed his thoughts after the game.
“We didn’t get the job done. I hope everybody on our team is going to watch film, like a majority of us is. So we respond better with our next game coming up. We have UM in two weeks, so we have to get ready to prepare and go get our first win of the season. This is our next point of adversity, we didn’t get the win that we were supposed to, so now we have to respond and get another one,” Wilson said.
Many FSU players left the game with injuries. Four of them were starting offensive linemen.
Norvell’s debut didn’t go exactly as he planned. However, he is still confident in this team. “This football team does not have to be defined by tonight. They’ll be defined by how they respond to this situation and how we move forward together as a program,” Norvell said.
Due to the current pandemic, 19,500 fans were allowed in the game and many could be seen during the broadcast of the game to not be wearing masks.
FSU will face off against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 26. The time for that game is to be announced.