Florida State certainly didn’t make Saturday night’s game any easier on itself.
While the Miami Hurricanes came out of the gates firing, the Seminoles stalled out and turned in one of the ugliest first halves in recent FSU memory.
After forcing a punt on Miami’s opening possession, the Seminoles took over at their own 18. On Florida State’s first offensive play of the game, quarterback EJ Manuel rolled out after a play-fake and found tight end Nick O’Leary in the flat. O’Leary attempted to leap over a Hurricanes defender, got spun like a helicopter in mid-air and fumbled the ball. Miami pounced on it and scored four plays later to go up 7-0.
On the ensuing Florida State possession, after being forced to go three-and-out, punter Cason Beatty shanked a punt 17 yards off the side of his foot, setting Miami up with great field position at the Seminoles’ 32 and paving the way for a Jake Wieclaw field goal to put the Hurricanes up 10-0.
In addition to letting Miami score on two of their first three possessions, holding penalties brought back both of Florida State’s first-quarter kickoff returns, leaving the Seminoles deep in their own territory on both drives.
Just 7:28 into the game, Florida State already trailed by two scores.
And the Noles weren’t done stumbling.
Down 10-0, Florida State’s comedy of errors continued. A high pass to Kenny Shaw was challenged as a fumble, but Florida State maintained possession after the call on the field stood. A few plays later, Rashad Greene was bailed out by Chris Thompson after fumbling on an end-around.
But the Seminoles were intent on turning the ball over again on that very drive.
Several plays after Greene coughed the ball up, receiver Jarred Haggins had trouble with the exchange from Manuel on a wide-receiver sweep and again Florida State put the ball on the ground.
The Hurricanes were more than happy to take it that time.
Even when the Seminoles were moving the ball they continued to trip over themselves. Holds and false starts from the offensive line slowed progress and an offensive pass interference penalty committed by Kelvin Benjamin in the Hurricanes’ end zone prevented Florida State from capitalizing on a Miami turnover of its own.
After an opening quarter that featured two turnovers, three holds, a false start and an offensive pass interference, Florida State was lucky to trail only 10-3.
In the first half, Florida State committed nine penalties for 82 yards, fumbling five times and losing two, but the Seminoles started to turn it around before the half.
In the second half, the Seminoles cleaned up the play a little but didn’t execute much better. They went up 16-10 on a Dustin Hopkins field goal before a fourth-quarter Devonta Freeman touchdown put FSU up for good, 23-13.
Although Florida State won 33-20,
it got lucky considering the abysmal first half, during which the team committed a season’s worth of mistakes in just 30 minutes.