Florida State isn’t having the season anyone expected.
Not the coaches, players, fans, or media.
The Seminoles (4-6, 2-5 ACC) are one loss away from missing a bowl game for the first time since 1980 and a loss to Boston College away from producing their worst conference record since joining the ACC in 1992.
Because of the way the season has gone, FSU’s coaching staff is working to keep the players engaged through the end of the season.
“Create as much morale as you possibly can, create as many opportunities for kids to be a part of the football program as possible, know that they’re counted on so they’re invested in practice and invested in the game,” FSU offensive coordinator Walt Bell said.
FSU did that against Notre Dame by implementing the “Hippo” package on the goal line in the third quarter of the Seminoles’ 42-13 loss to the Irish.
FSU went under center with quarterback Deondre Francois and put in defensive tackles Robert Cooper, Marvin Wilson, and Cory Durden, who weigh a combined 985 pounds according to the FSU roster.
The package didn’t get the job done on third down because an offensive lineman allowed penetration into the backfield before the play could get started and didn’t get it done on fourth down with Wilson out running a route on the play.
“On third down from the one, want to put big bodies on big bodies,” Bell said.
“Got beat on a slant across our face. Didn’t handle that great. Then on fourth down, we obviously didn’t get that thing completed. From a situational standpoint, I think really the second down and third down, not doing a great job with our big bodies. But we’ve got to just keep putting those guys in those positions and get it correct.”
FSU went to that package because they’ve lacked physicality in short-yardage situations and wanted to send the message that that’s changing.
It didn’t work, but the effort was there.
“When you’ve got the ball on the one-yard line, I think the old adage since I was a 12-year old triple-option quarterback, and doing it really poorly, the adage has always been if you can’t gain a yard, your probably don’t deserve it,” Bell said.
“I think that was kind of the mentality, let’s go find a way to get a yard. And we didn’t get it done.”
Wide receivers looking to bounce back
The wide receiver position has been one of the only strong points for the FSU offense this season.
The FSU passing game has accounted for 77.6 percent of all the yards the Seminoles have from scrimmage this season and 66.6 percent of the offensive touchdowns.
But against Notre Dame, the wide receiver unit collectively struggled.
“It can probably be attributed to a lot of things,” Bell said.
“But we didn’t do a great job. We’ve got to pitch and catch. That’s one of the things as the system progresses and the longer that we’re here, I feel like you don’t have a choice but to enhance and make better. But you’ve got to pitch and catch.”
The receivers dropped at least five passes in the game, including three by normally sure-handed Tamorrion Terry.
It was the first time this season that the receivers let the offense down.
“This isn’t a break the glass in case of emergency type situation,” Bell said.
“We’ve got great receivers. They’re coached incredibly well. Coach Kelly does a great job with them. They just didn’t have their best day. They just so happened to not have their best day in a really important football game on national T.V. Nobody wants that. I still believe in those guys, man.”
FSU’s receivers knew after the game that they struggled and made it a point not to let it happen again.
“We’v got to come back,” FSU wide receiver D.J. Matthews said.
“Practice harder. Came in Sunday and worked harder… Just coming out and working, man. Can’t overwhelm yourself. You got to come out and play football, just like we have been doing since we’ve been little kids.
Florida State vs. No. 22 Boston College
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPN2/103.1 FM