Notes: Banged-up OL gets heap of praise, three Noles win ACC honors

Florida State’s offensive line cleared the way for a fifth 200-yard rushing game and 35 points, the most since the season opener. The biggest number? Zero.

The Seminoles did not allow a sack for the first time since 2019 in Saturday’s 35-25 win over North Carolina. While the Seminoles did have Maurice Smith back in the starting lineup, they did it with right guard Devontay Love-Taylor on the sideline.

“Rob Scott played probably his best game of the year,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “You could see him getting more and more confidence. He’s really been pushing and battling. Darius (Washington) played really well, did some good things. Maurice is still battling away, he’s not 100 percent. The confidence in what we’re doing, his growth mentally from a year ago to where it is now is incredible. Just the ownership of the calls, what he sees, how he’s able to adjust to that during the game.”

Left guard Dillan Gibbons was named the ACC’s offensive lineman of the week. Gibbons played all 54 offensive snaps.

“Dillan Gibbons played one of his better games since he’s been here from a physicality aspect, he had some plays where he’s creating some significant movement there along the front.”

FSU hasn’t had much continuity week to week in practice, which makes the line’s performance all the more impressive. Gibbons, Smith and Love-Taylor were among those who were limited on the Tuesday going into the UNC game. 

“Those guys are banged up,” offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said. “They need this (bye) week probably more than position group on our team, potentially. They were banged up and they fought.”

Johnson has experience at guard and held his own in Love-Taylor’s spot. Beyond not allowing a sack, Norvell noted FSU allowed just two tackles for loss.

“We’ve had guys who’ve been limited in practice, who’ve had to rotate through the course of the game,” Norvell said. “But because of the versatility of the guys that we have and the investment that they’re making, I think they’re growing in confidence with what they can do. When Devontay went down and Baveon had to step in, it had to continue to operate with that efficiency. And it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but I think those guys are getting better and playing with more confidence.”

ACC players of week

Beyond Gibbons, Jermaine Johnson claimed the ACC’s defensive lineman of the week award and Malik McClain was named the ACC’s rookie of the week. 

Johnson had six tackles and a fourth-quarter sack, giving him seven sacks in six games. He leads all ACC defensive linemen with 44 tackles. McClain had a 5-yard touchdown reception for the first score of his career.


Dillingham fielded a question about Jordan Travis smiling on the sideline and responded that he has heard about it but doesn’t get to see that from the press box. He then had an interesting response about the coaching profession.

“I say all the time, people in the profession, we get paid to score points,” Dillingham said. “We get paid to try to win. But if you don’t coach to see the look on your guys’ faces when they have success, they’ve got major issues and you shouldn’t be coaching. I was back, we had off yesterday as a staff. I just laid in bed with the wife, we just watched the game and to watch him (Travis) smile and just joke around and play with that passion and energy, you can see it.”

Kick return set up first TD

FSU’s returners have had a rough start but Travis Jay’s 41-yard kickoff return was a big bright spot Saturday and set up the Seminoles’ first touchdown.

“That was a big play,” special teams coordinator John Papuchis said. “It was a spark when we probably needed one, down 10-0. I think we’d only had the ball for three plays offensively to that point. And to get good field position, get it out to the 41 to start a drive, I thought that was a big play. Really, the opening kickoff had the potential to be a really big play. We ended up missing one block, which was a key block where the guy targeted Corey (Wren). But I thought, as a whole, the return units did a really nice job and we were able to finally break one out.”

Bye week schedule

Norvell and the staff have scaled back the schedule this week with FSU on a bye. The Seminoles did not hold a light practice on Sunday, instead allowing players to focus on treatment. Practices on Tuesday and Wednesday will be lighter, he said.

“Big fundamental focus,” Norvell said. “Will get some good on good work, but will reduce the amount of contact we have this week, especially with those front-line guys. … We’re a physical team, I believe, and there are things that are going to have to carry over in the second half of the season. We’ll get good work, but we’ll let some bodies heal up.”