There's no sugarcoating Saturday's game with Bethune-Cookman: it was about as bland as the soupy weather in Tallahassee. While Florida State did get some younger bodies on the field with the first team defense, everything else in the 54-6 Seminole win went as expected. So with a simple gameplan and nothing brand new to dissect, in lieu of technical breakdowns, there are a few impressions that helped define FSU's final ACC dress rehersal.
What they wanted, when they wanted
The Seminole offense - specifically the first team - could pick its concentration all evening. The point of attack was dominated by an athletically superior offensive line, which provided both Jameis Winston and the running back corps all the support they would need. Save for the jaw-dropping touchdown (which was on a blitz misdiagnosis) in which Winston had to fight off an edge rush in order to complete the broken play, Florida State did what it should have: Serious damage in the trenches.
In the first three quarters, the Seminoles averaged 8.9 yards per play. Of course the what-if game can't always be played, but that figure includes at least two sure-fire drops from the wide receivers. Regardless, while the passing game may have been a bit off Saturday, credit the offensive line for clocking in and doing what it was supposed to against an out-gunned opponent.
Karlos has a home
Kick returns told us what we needed to know about Karlos Williams' top-end speed. Combine that with Williams' size and Seminole fans were frothing at the mouth when the defense-to-offense switch was finally announced. But one of the big questions was how much Williams could be counted on as a traditional, between-the-tackles threat. Saturday went a long way to dispensing any concern in that area.
Though the offensive line created some crater-sized land areas for Williams, there was still significant evidence shown that he could end up being Florida State's best overall running back in the near future. Much had been made of the junior's acceleration (remember the velocity meter readings in summer workouts of years past?), but to see just how fast Williams was moving when he hit the hole out of a traditional set had to be encouraging for head coach Jimbo Fisher. Fisher does not typically weigh in on naked eye conclusions from a game before seeing the film, but even in a blowout win, he did offer up right away that Williams will be playing earlier in games.
The final hurdle for the safety turned tailback will be how he responds to being squared up by a formidable defensive lineman or linebacker. But with that speed and some burgeoning instincts, Williams' potential is trending way up in the short term.
Linebacker Terrance Smith had been something of a press conference legend heading into this season. The reason: Fisher would often praise Smith for how he was pushing for serious playing time, but outside of a September blowout or a Spring game, there wasn't a whole lot to go on from the public's perspective. Smith filled up the stat sheet (team high 12 tackles, sack) and showed impressive sideline-to-sideline speed in his first start.
And though freshman Matthew Thomas produced two tackles for loss in the second half, it was interesting to note that the coaching staff had him on the field early on, including a third-and-long situation in the first quarter. That play ended up being Telvin Smith's interception return for a touchdown, which was FSU's first since Terrance Parks in Gainesville back in 2011.
Though the defense's day was far from perfect - Fisher noted a tackling issue in his press conference - the staff has a healthy amount of film to review on the younger lineman, backers and defensive backs. As ACC play picks up this week, it will become clear which young players have earned the coaches' trust.
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