MIAMI GARDENS — The game was well out of hand and Miami had plenty of backups in the game.
But there was a glimmer of hope for the future as Florida State deputy head coach Chris Thomsen emptied the bench and gave some extensive playing time to true freshmen.
Following James Blackman’s interception on FSU’s final drive of the third quarter, Thomsen and the staff opted to give Tate Rodemaker his first college playing time with 14:57 left in the game.
After two incompletions, Rodemaker connected with tight end Camren McDonald for a 10-yard gain — and a first down. But the growing pains were evident as Rodemaker overshot or miscommunicated with a receiver on the next play, resulting in an interception. A second drive with Rodemaker was unproductive, but he was 4 for 4 on his third and final drive as he completed two passes apiece to Darion Williamson and Kentron Poitier. Rodemaker finished 5 of 9 for 47 yards and the interception.
“I was just impressed with his overall demeanor and the way he handled the situation,” McDonald said. “Being a true freshmen out of high school that’s no an easy situation to be thrown into.”
FSU also turned to Lawrance Toafili in the second half, and he led the team in carries (eight) and rushing yards (64). Toafili also had two receptions for 35 yards, including one for 23 yards. Ja’Khi Douglas also had two receptions for 13 yards as well as three carries for five yards.
Poitier had two receptions for 22 yards, while Williamson had two catches for 15 yards. Bryan Robinson and Jordan Young were also on the field late but did not have a catch.
Thomas Shrader also saw playing time on the offensive line.
The play of the younger receivers was also encouraging after FSU’s starting trio — Tamorrion Terry, Warren Thompson and Keyshawn Helton — was held to just one catch. Terry and Thompson did not have receptions and Helton had one catch for two yards.
On defense, linebacker Stephen Dix Jr. again was productive and had six tackles.