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Florida State struggles at No. 3 Notre Dame, but Seminoles sure they can turn things around

Florida State suffered a 42-13 loss at No. 3 Notre Dame Saturday.

The Seminoles dropped to 4-6 overall and are one loss away from being eliminated from bowl eligibility for the first time in 36 years.

Check out three things we learned from the Seminoles’ loss:

1. FSU’s defense still isn’t on the same page

It was a rough night for both the secondary and the defensive line, with Notre Dame backup quarterback Brandon Wimbush finishing 12-of-25 passing for 130 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Dexter Williams racked up 202 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 32-yard touchdown in the fourth.

The defense as a whole has given up 774 passing yards during the past three games and the secondary is struggling in man-to-man coverage.

Coach Willie Taggart said the staff recognized the issue and made slight adjustments in the second half, which led to two interceptions.

The pass-defense issues thought to be an anomaly against NC State, however, are looking like a pattern at this point in the season.

Taggart said better tackling and the improved play by the offense should help the defense improve significantly.

2. Seminoles’ run game is still missing

At this point, many know the depleted offensive line has hindered FSU’s quarterback play, but the unit that has fielded nine different starting lineups this season also is having trouble creating holes for the running backs.

Tailbacks Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick combined for just 116 yards against Notre Dame and the ’Noles are averaging just 79.8 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry this season.

3. Amid adversity, FSU morale still appears to be high

Despite the struggles, FSU seems to be ready to get back to work rather than sulk.

Linebacker Dontavious Jackson said the Seminoles believe they are a better team than what their record shows.

“To me, [facing Clemson and then Notre Dame has shown] that we should be a top team,” he said. “Our mental mistakes, our lack of discipline as far as flags and stuff have held us up and I feel like if it wasn’t for that, if we minimize that, we’d be a top team.

“So we gotta get back to the drawing board and understand we’ve got to be a disciplined team.”

It seems likely Deondre Francois will be leading the offense still working to master Taggart’s Gulf Coast offense.

Backup James Blackman started the Seminoles’ loss two weeks ago at NC State after Francois suffered injured ribs and a concussion. Francois insisted he expected to lead the offense at Notre Dame, but the Seminoles practiced with both quarterbacks running the first-team offense and Taggart wouldn’t name a starter until game day.

Taggart said the decision to start Francois, who finished 23-of- 47 passing for 216 yards with no touchdowns and one interception at Notre Dame, was one he stands by, and it appears he may be leaning toward sticking with Francois to close out the season.

“Francois, he was healthy, ready to go. He didn’t play the week before because he wasn’t healthy,” Taggart said. “We had to go through the week and see — he didn’t practice the week before. We needed to see how he practiced and performed and he did a good job with it.

“So we thought it was right to put him in there and he did some good things. Probably missed a lot of throws, but he had a lot of drops that didn’t allow him to get into a rhythm, and that’s tough for a quarterback. I don’t care who you are, it’s tough to get into a rhythm and get some things going. That’s why we started him.”

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