Florida State’s special teams had one of its best days in years with plays that kept the team in the game on Saturday night.
Marvin Wilson had a pair of blocked field-goal attempts, joining B.J. Ward (in 2003 vs. Duke) as the only Seminole to have done that in program history. Janarius Robinson added a blocked extra-point attempt. While those two defensive linemen struggled to wrap up GT quarterback Jeff Sims, Wilson and Robinson can be credited with erasing seven potential points by the Yellow Jackets.
Walk-on kicker Parker Grothaus also connected on two of his three field-goal attempts, the first of his college career, including a 53-yarder. Freshman punter Alex Mastromanno had three punts for a 48.3-yard average, which is 10 yards more on average than Tommy Martin averaged in 2019.
Travis Jay also had three kickoffs for 75 yards, including a 31-yarder. And while Jay fielded a punt at about his 5-yard line, he did break some tackles on a 16-yard return.
“Our special teams, I thought, did some really good things with the blocked kicks,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “They did a nice job with their coverage and had a couple of opportunities to impact the game.”
Offensive growing pains
The offense didn’t have but a handful of penalties and none in the early part of the game. But the mistakes, growing pains and injuries added up.
While not making an excuse, Norvell commented that the offense was breaking in a number of new players. Jashaun Corbin and La’Damian Webb were making their first starts at FSU, while Warren Thompson and Camren McDonald made their first FSU starts. Offensive linemen Darius Washington (fourth start) and Maurice Smith (third start) are still learning on the fly, and another lineman, Devontay Love-Taylor, made his first FSU start after starting 17 games at FIU.
“We’re still growing, we’re still at the infant stage of where we’re going,” Norvell said. “As an offense, we have a lot of guys that are newcomers or guys that haven’t played much football here at Florida State that are trying to establish that role and understanding that times are going to be tough. They’re going to be times that you’re going to have to overcome and just truly trust your training. And I thought there’s a few moments where we tried to do maybe a little bit too much in all aspects.”
Change of pace with Travis
Jordan Travis came off the bench in the second half and provided a spark with a few good runs, helping FSU jump-start a couple drives. While he attempted just one pass, an incompletion, Travis ran six times for 39 yards.
“I like the explosiveness of what what Jordan brings to this team,” Travis said. “He has been out for a good portion of fall camp and so we were trying to be smart with him and just the things that he’s able to do at this time. I thought he did provide a couple couple spark runs, did a nice job when he went in there. And he’s going to continue to grow and get better as the season progresses.”
Sims stays composed
GT quarterback Jeff Sims, an FSU commitment for nine months until he picked the Yellow Jackets, played with a maturity beyond his years in completing 24 of 35 passes for 277 yards, a touchdown and running for 64 yards. He also bounced back from two early interceptions to rally GT from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
“If you look at his stats, the best thing about him is on the sideline, he was not fazed, he was not flustered,” GT coach Geoff Collins said. “He stayed poised. He never got too high, he never got too low, learns from his mistakes. … His leadership, his demeanor, his composure, the way the guys believed in him. And he got the thing rolling.”
FSU senior defensive tackle Marvin Wilson: “As a D-line we got to play a lot better. I’m not happy with my performance. I’m not happy with anybody’s performance. We got to get a whole lot better.”