Florida State coach Willie Taggart’s slogan entering his first season was simple: “Do something.”
The Seminoles did a couple of key things when they needed them most Saturday, earning a 22-21 home win over Boston College. As a result, they have the opportunity to keep their 36-year bowl streak alive.
Here are three things we learned from the victory:
1. Defense takes a step forward
After weeks of extending opposing team’s offensive drives with frustrating pass-interference calls, FSU was able to avoid those penalties while coming up with two interceptions against Boston College.
Brian Burns and Dontavious Jackson each got to the quarterback Saturday, with FSU recording sacks for the first time in three games.
The Seminoles also were able to contain Eagles running back AJ Dillon. In the first half the FSU defense held him to just 3.6 yards per carry — his third lowest total of the season. He finished with a hard-fought 116 yards.
Jackson said pride was a driving force behind the defensive unit’s efforts. They also were able to stick to their assignments.
“Just knowing where we were supposed to be gap-wise and just knowing that feeling that we had up there,” he said, recalling the painful loss the previous week at Notre Dame. “We went up there and got whooped and that wasn’t a great feeling coming back home. It was a long flight. I just wanted to win for that feeling. Didn’t want to have that feeling again.”
2. The offense is capable
Deondre Francois was able to shake off a sluggish first half to make perhaps the biggest play of the season. He finished 19-of-39 passing for 322 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Tamorrion Terry finished with 112 receiving yards while Keyshawn Helton was consistent throughout and had 74 yards.
Taggart said the offense remained poised and came through at the right time.
“It was pretty neat,” Taggart said. “Danny Kanell came and talked to our team this week, and he spoke about some times all you need is somebody to step up and make a play and that can change some things around.
“And sure enough in that game, we’re struggling, struggling, struggling, and then Tamorrion Terry and Deondre make the play for us at a perfect time for us, and that was big for us.”
The run game finally got a chance to shine and made the most of it, with Cam Akers gaining 110 yards, including a 55-yard run.
Taggart credited Akers for maturing and doing whatever he could to help the team instead of forcing action. Akers said this season has taught him a lot.
“On a consistent basis, a couple of weeks ago coaches just kept drilling it in me all year from Week 1. I think it’s starting to pay off,” he said.
“In this offense, you have to be patient. You’ve got to let everything happen. Whatever it took to be successful, that’s what I was going to do. Being patient is a key thing.”
3. The Seminoles have a chance
Saturday was FSU’s first win over a ranked opponent as an unranked team in 13 years. The Seminoles also snapped a three-game losing streak. The adrenaline that comes with Florida-rivalry week, coupled with the momentum of Saturday’s win, makes FSU a more dangerous team than it was a week ago.
The mood in the locker room reflected the new energy boost entering the biggest week of the season.