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First Impressions: Fast start allows FSU to outlast BC for 5th win

FSU improved to 5-6 on the season and kept its bowl hopes alive after escaping Boston College with 26-23 win on the road. It was a tale of two halves with Florida State dominating the first half and taking a 19-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Boston College trailed 26-3 with 12:23 to go in the third quarter and stormed back to make it a 26-23 game with 10:21 to go in the fourth quarter. FSU ended the comeback bid on BC’s last offensive drive by putting pressure on quarterback Phil Jurkovec, whose fourth-down throw from Florida State’s 37-yard line with 1:45 to go in the game was picked off by the Seminoles. The interception allowed FSU to run out the clock and secure its second consecutive ACC win and its fifth win in its last seven games after an 0-4 start to the season.

Here is a look at the Osceola’s keys to victory for FSU and how they impacted the Seminoles’ victory over Boston College:

Phil the Pressure

FSU needed to keep BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec off balance and out of rhythm and it did just that. Jurkovec found himself under constant pressure from FSU’s front four, especially Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas, who both had dominant performances. Johnson was officially credited with two quarterback pressures for the game but that number was a lot closer to double digits than it was two based on my count. Thomas was credited with one sack and five quarterback hurries. Fabien Lovett and Derrick McLendon also had a sack apiece. For the game the Seminoles had four sacks. The official scorekeeper credited FSU with just seven quarterback hurries but that was with some very conservative math.

The end result was Jurkovec having the worst start of his 2021 season. He entered the game completing 63 percent of his passes on the season. Against FSU this afternoon he completed just 10 of 24 (41 percent) for 148 yards and just one touchdown. BC did have success on the ground (170 yards) so limiting the Eagles passing attack was the defensive key of the game.

Don’t Let Flowers Bloom

The best playmaker on BC’s offensive is wide receiver Zay Flowers and the Seminoles were able to shut him down for the most part. He was targeted six times by Jurkovec but only caught three. Only one of those completions, a 36-yard touchdown to cut FSU’s lead 26-23, did any real damage.

Run the Dadgum Ball

If FSU’s offense had a motto or theme T-shirt under Mike Norvell, like it did for its teams under Coach Bobby Bowden, this would be it for the 2021 team: Run the Dadgum Ball. FSU has run the ball well all season outside of games (and losses) against Clemson and NC State. All of FSU’s offensive success is predicated off its ground game. FSU ran for 71 yards in the first half in taking what would be a lead BC would not be able to overcome, but just 114 yards for the game minus 30 yards lost in sacks. With Jordan Travis at quarterback, opposing defenses have to account for his ability to run the ball on every play. The early success running opened up the passing game for Travis, who was for the second week in a row outstanding throwing the ball. He finished the game 20 of 34 for 251 yards and three touchdowns. His numbers could have been better than that if it weren’t for a couple of drops by FSU receivers.

Sweet Emotion

Another question coming into the Boston College game was would a (mostly) young FSU team be able to play with the same intensity and focus as it did a week ago in an emotional win over in-state rival Miami? There is no doubt that FSU got off the bus in Boston ready to play, at least from an intensity standpoint. The Seminoles dominated the game for the first two-plus quarters of the game, which allowed them to survive a furious comeback bid by Boston College. You can make an argument based off of FSU committing 13 penalties for 120 yards that maybe the team wasn’t totally dialed in. Seven of those penalties were committed in the second half and certainly some of those aided BC’s comeback. That being said, there were several questionable calls against the Seminoles, including the targeting call against Jammie Robinson in the first half. However, even if FSU didn’t play with great discipline, it did, as it has all year, play with tremendous effort and toughness. Traits this team showed early this season and traits that look to be becoming trademarks of FSU’s program in its second season under Norvell’s leadership.

Victory is sweet in all forms and it was again Saturday for an FSU team that won’t back down and it now prepares to head to Florida one win away from a bowl bid.