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Notes, stats and key plays from FSU’s loss at Notre Dame

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Jordan Travis again sparked Florida State, delivering the Seminoles’ best half of football against an FBS opponent. The problem? Notre Dame couldn’t be stopped, unless the Fighting Irish turned it over.

Travis and the ground attack made an admirable effort but the defensive shortcomings were again underscored. Notre Dame had touchdown drives of 75, 76, 75, 81, 57 and 73 en route to a 42-26 win on Saturday night.

FSU (1-3, 0-3 ACC) capitalized on a few Notre Dame turnovers, converting those into a field goal and a touchdown early. The Seminoles even had the lead a few times, 3-0 and 17-14.

But Notre Dame (3-0, 2-0) could not be stopped. The Fighting Irish averaged more than 8.4 yards per carry.

A week after FSU took a step forward with Travis at quarterback against Jacksonville State, he again helped the Seminoles’ offense make plays against one of the nation’s top defenses. There aren’t moral victories but Travis says the Seminoles should have high expectations regardless of the opponent.

“We should have these expectations,” Travis said. “We should be winning. We’re a good team. There’s little things that matter. Over and over. We make mistakes, little mistakes that matter so much. And it cost us a couple touchdowns today. Coming from me too. There’s mistakes that I made that need to be corrected and that can help us be very successful.”

The Seminoles last opened 1-3 in the 2017 season. Next up for FSU is a home game against North Carolina next Saturday.

Offense

FSU scored 17 points in the first quarter, more than it had generated in full games against FBS opponents Miami (10) and Georgia Tech (13). While FSU benefitted from short fields, the Seminoles were able to put points on the board.

A big emphasis postgame for Mike Norvell was third downs. FSU struggled in third-down situations, converting just 2 of 8 in the first half. The Seminoles finished 2 of 14.

Jordan Travis completed 13 of 24 passes for 204 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown pass to Tamorrion Terry. He also ran 19 times for 96 yards, as well as a 4-yard TD run.

Terry caught nine passes for 146 yards, averaging 16.2 yards per reception. It was his first 100-yard receiving game of the year and the fifth of his career.

Travis threw well on the move but often struggled from the pocket. He marched FSU down the field midway through the fourth quarter, with the Seminoles trailing by 16, but his pass intended for Keyshawn Helton was picked off at the goal line.

Late in the fourth quarter, Travis appeared to injure his hand. James Blackman was 4 of 5 for 48 yards on FSU’s final drive, which ended near midfield.

“My hand is doing good,” Travis said. “I’ll get some treatment in the morning, I’ll be fine. But I’m learning that I have to get down and protect myself a little bit. I have to do a lot better because there’s hits that were unnecessary today. I just have to work on that.”

In large part because of Travis’ running, the Seminoles had their best day against an FBS defense on the ground. FSU had 40 rushes for 153 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry (some late sacks brought the average down considerably). La’Damian Webb had 59 yards on 13 carries, including a touchdown. In prior games vs. FBS opponents this year, FSU averaged 3.1 yards per carry vs. Georgia Tech and had 151 rushing yards (4.2 yards per carry) at Miami.

The Seminoles started three quarterbacks in three straight games, the first time that has happened since the 2002 season.

FSU tallied 405 yards of total offense: 153 rushing and 252 passing. It was the first time since Oct. 8, 2016 at No. 10 Miami the Seminoles produced at least 400 yards of offense against a ranked team on the road.

Defense

It was the second straight FBS opponent to surpass the 40-point mark, following Miami’s 52-point outburst.

Notre Dame ran 42 times for 353 yards and averaged 8.4 yards per carry, whopping numbers for an FSU defense that struggled to get the Fighting Irish off the field quickly.

Amari Gainer led FSU with 11 tackles. He also forced a fumble and had a quarterback hurry. Gainer said the Seminoles’ missed assignments led to Notre Dame’s chunk plays.

“It was not the scheme,” Gainer said. “The scheme we went over in practice. We practiced everything they were running. It was just the attention to details and just focusing in on our keys and what we have to do. … I thought we played with a little bit more physicality and we were playing with some effort but we got to pick it up because it wasn’t good enough.”

Samuel recovered the fumble that Gainer forced. It was his fifth takeaway of the season (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries). He has accounted for five of FSU’s seven takeaways on the season. He is just the third Seminole since 2000 with at least three interceptions and two fumble recoveries in a season (Nate Andrews, 2014; Telvin Smith, 2013). 

Kyren Williams had 19 rushes for 185 yards and two touchdowns for ND, which accumulated nearly 600 yards of offense.

The Seminoles did show its resolve late, making a fourth-down stop near the goal line with 1:52 left in the game.

But the Seminoles did not record a sack of the Irish, which has featured one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Still, FSU has just one sack in three games vs. FBS teams.

Defensive tackle Robert Cooper returned to the field. Safeties Hamsah Nasirildeen and Travis Jay did not play.

Special teams

Ryan Fitzgerald connected on field goals of 42 yards and 26 yards.

Alex Mastromanno had to punt six times for a 44-yard average. He had a 51-yard punt.