Florida State has shown glimpses of its potential this season, just always at home.
Although the Seminoles continue to be dominant at Doak Campbell Stadium, averaging more than 600 yards of offense and 55 points per game at home, on the road they have been inconsistent, and at times complacent.
Once again on Saturday, FSU looked like a different team than the group that blows away opponents in Tallahassee.
But perhaps in a sign that Jimbo Fisher and his team are starting to turn the corner, the Seminoles fought through it in their 33-20 win over the Miami Hurricanes.
“I saw some of the same stuff kind of rear its head, we were kind of complacent on the sidelines,” senior kicker Dustin Hopkins said.
“But I think those lessons we learned at N.C. State did come through, because eventually leaders were stepping up, making sure the guys weren’t overconfident— even though we were behind — and kind of realizing the situation and how urgent it was and how much we needed to come and start really playing and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
After a first half that included nine penalties for 82 yards and five fumbles (two lost), the Seminoles headed into the locker room with a 13-10 lead.
“I told them ‘listen, we went out on the field and did about everything wrong you can do, but you overcame it and have the lead’” Fisher said. “That says something, to me that’s your sign — as crazy as that sounds — I think it’s a competitive football team that’s growing up, learning to fight through some things. Some days you just don’t have it.”
The Seminoles certainly didn’t have it Saturday. Even when things were going well, penalties and miscues continued to plague the FSU offense as much as the Hurricanes defense did.
But unlike two weeks ago when FSU was tested by a scrappy N.C. State team and headed home with a loss, the Seminoles fought through it this time.
“I thought it was very big for our kids to overcome what they did today,” Fisher said. “There’s too many good guys on our team, too many leaders, too many good human beings to sit there and everybody look at the each other and not do anything.
“I told them sometimes you may like each other too much. Every now and then when you’re on the field — like I used to tell them — you’ll be my buddy off the field, but when we’re on the field we’re competitors, if I need to get on your tail, I’m going to get on your tail.”
That’s exactly what the Seminoles’ leaders did in the second half.
“From the sidelines we just want to win so bad, and sometimes I think you try to do too much,” Hopkins said. “I think if we start off still with our energy high but at the same time composed, it shouldn’t be a problem. But at the same time our leaders took care of it and nipped it in the bud real quick, it’s just I saw a glimpse of it.”
That glimpse of complacency will be an issue the Seminoles battle the rest of the season. FSU has the talent on its roster to be elite; it’s a matter of finding the correct mentality to accompany their talent.
Saturday night was a step in the right direction.
“The Miami games, the Florida games, those are so special in the state of Florida,” Hopkins said. “And to come out here and start out slow and it kind of got your blood flowing, and then to finish well, it was really a rewarding win.
“It was a good way to go out [as a senior], especially given the kicking history that’s happened with a Florida State-Miami game.”