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Samuel’s INTs, Wilson’s blocks bright spots in a dark loss

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With Florida State’s 16-13 loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday, the Seminoles have now lost four straight season openers. This is the first time that this has happened since Bobby Bowden took over the program in 1976. 

It has been a familiar feeling for the program and its fans as of late. Excitement for the new season quickly turns to confusion and underwhelming play. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record.

“We missed out on some opportunities tonight,” Coach Mike Norvell said. “We struggled to sustain momentum, struggled to sustain drives … collectively as a football team we’re not consistent enough.”

The phrase “missed opportunities” was the most common one uttered in Norvell’s postgame press conference, but despite the takeaways from the game being mostly about those opportunities, there were some instances in which opportunities worked out in favor of the Seminoles.

The ’Noles gave up 341 yards of offense (277 passing and 64 rushing) to a true freshman and former commit in Jeff Sims. It was certainly not a night to remember. However, Sims also threw two interceptions and was dangerously close to throwing a third, as the defense was able to force the young quarterback into making bad decisions. The two interceptions fell into the hand of junior cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., who established himself as the next star leader of the Seminoles defensive back core. 

“I had been watching those same plays on film,” Samuel Jr. said. “When I saw it (in game), I just had to react and make a play.” 

Asante’s interceptions helped hold the Yellow Jackets scoreless in the first half – stopping drives that had the potential of reaching the pylons. His play throughout the game was a highlight for the Seminoles, as Samuel Jr. also had two pass breakups and kept his man relatively quiet for most of the night. 

The special-teams unit had a good night as well, which was an area that Norvell promised improvement in. The Seminoles had two blocked field goals and one blocked extra point and, on a surface level, a unit that looked lost and scared last year, moved with purpose and power. Marvin Wilson earned both blocked field goals, the first coming after teammate Joshua Kaindoh went down with yet another leg injury. The blocked field goal was another way that the team had to push through adversity – another common phrase used in the wake of the game. 

“Starting tonight, I hope everyone on the team is going to watch film like the majority of us are, Wilson stated. “We got UM in two weeks, so we got to get ready to prepare and get our first win of the season. That’s how we are going to push through the adversity, we are going to get the win that we were supposed to and then go get another.” 

“We know the mistakes we made,” Samuel Jr. added. “They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves.” 

The outcome is hardly what the team wanted, but defensively, the stars seemed determined to not let the season slip away from them early. Though it came in a losing effort, Wilson and Samuel Jr. were two bright spots in a dark loss for the program. 

We have yet to see how a Norvell-coached team will respond to such a bitterly disappointing loss but if the comments of the defense’s current and emerging stars are anything to go by, they are chomping at the bit to blow past the adversity this fourth straight season opening loss has dealt them. 

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