Penalties. Fumbles. Interceptions. The mistakes added up again in Florida State’s ACC and road opener on Saturday at Wake Forest.
The Seminoles had some moments on offense, putting together a few effective drives, and forced some first-quarter turnovers, too. But the moments were just that. Not nearly enough as FSU turned it over six times and fell 35-14 to Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.
FSU dropped to 0-3 for the first time since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first season as head coach.
“Disappointed in the outcome of today,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “In no way did we really give ourselves a chance to play winning football. Any time you finish a game and you have six turnovers, you’re poor on third downs, we talked about penalties and the continued emphasis of having to eliminate that. In the first half, they converted on three first downs off of penalties. Continue to see the mistakes that have cost us in prior weeks. Just not doing a good enough job allowing that to show up on gameday. I’m hurting for these guys that are in the locker room. A lot of work that goes invested. I believe in these guys. I believe in what they can do. I believe in what they can accomplish. Just in the moment, we’ve got to keep that same belief and go up there, play to the level, coach to the level that we’re capable of. It’s a disappointing outcome.”
Mike Norvell’s climb, in its second year, is stuck in reverse, slipping backwards in a storm of self-inflicted mistakes. The Seminoles were shut out in the second half, with McKenzie Milton being stopped short on a fourth down in the red zone and a fumble on the goal line (among other turnovers).
Wake often matched FSU with the penalties, preventing the game from getting out of hand earlier. But the Demon Deacons led 27-14 at the half and had the game well under control.
“I’ve got to have these guys better prepared to play,” Norvell said. “I’ve got to have them better prepared to go out there and execute, to take the things we’re emphasizing at practice, the things we’re emphasizing every day in our program. It’s got to apply. We challenge, we push when it comes to discipline, when it comes to fundamentals, but in the moment, I’m not doing a good enough job of having that be showcased when we get our opportunities on gameday. We are a young football team and we’ve got to continue to grow, got to continue to believe, got to continue to push.”
Jordan Travis completed 5 of 6 passes for 107 yards with two touchdowns in the first half. He connected with Ontaria Wilson on a pretty, in-stride 65-yard TD pass and then Treshaun Ward on an 8-yard TD pass. Travis’ interception was on a Hail Mary just before halftime, and he took a vicious hit as he released the ball.
McKenzie Milton was 1 of 3 for 6 yards in the first half, tossing a costly interception into double coverage (it could have been viewed as triple coverage considering the number of black shirts in the vicinity). Milton played in the second half and finished 11 of 16 for 119 yards with a second interception.
FSU started an offensive line of (from left) Darius Washington, Dillan Gibbons, Baveon Johnson, Devontay Love-Taylor and Brady Scott. When Johnson was injured on FSU’s second drive, Washington moved to center and Brady Scott went to left tackle.
The Seminoles ran the ball well in the third quarter but couldn’t get any points out of drives. Milton was stuffed on a fourth-and-2 deep in Wake’s end. Treshaun Ward had six carries for 48 yards.
In the second half, FSU went punt, stopped on downs, fumble, interception and fumble.
Wilson led FSU with 91 receiving yards on three catches. Ward also caught three passes for 34 yards, and Camren McDonald had three receptions for 32 yards.
Wake ran 89 plays, extending drives by converting on third down at a 7-of-17 rate.
FSU forced two turnovers early in the first quarter, although the offense gave one right back. Aside from the turnovers, FSU forced just one punt and gave up five scoring drives (three touchdowns and two field goals) in the first half. The Demon Deacons’ touchdown drives were 63, 65, 75 and 90 yards.
Wake quarterback Sam Hartman was efficient, completing 22 of 31 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Jermaine Johnson had 10 tackles (six solo) and .5 sacks.
Derrick McLendon had four tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Sidney Williams had six tackles and an interception but also was flagged for targeting. He will miss the first half of the Louisville game.
Amari Gainer had eight tackles and a sack.
“Faith being huge in my life it is just going on to the next play, going on to the next day, keep fighting,” Gainer said. “That’s all you can do. If you keep dwelling on this you’re going to be in a bad place. You got to keep fighting. You got to keep working. You got to work harder than what you’ve been doing.”
FSU has been penalized 27 times in three games for 233 yards.