TALLAHASSEE -- No. 8 Florida State handled its business Saturday night against Bethune-Cookman, winning 54-6 and dominating the Wildcats offense. But afterward, coach Jimbo Fisher wasn’t satisfied.
“I’m very proud of our team; I thought we did the things we needed to do to win the game,” Fisher said. “But there’s still a lot of room for improvement in my opinion.”
Florida State struggled to get off the field on defense at the start of the game, allowing Bethune-Cookman to hold on to the ball for more than 12 minutes in the first quarter.
But, much as it has done in its first two games — the defense was able to adjust quickly and hold the Wildcats at bay for most of the rest of the night.
“Weird game in the beginning; we were a little undisciplined I think coming out a little too hard on defense,” Fisher said. “We jumped offsides, didn’t squeeze down, little things. We were trying too hard to come out and prove a point right off the bat.”
A 68-yard interception return for a touchdown — the first pick six for Florida State since 2011 — stopped Bethune’s first drive in its tracks and handed momentum back to the Seminoles.
“That was a huge play by Telvin Smith, being able to make that play, because they were doing the things they wanted to do, which was eat the clock and shorten the game,” Fisher said.
“I give them credit; they were doing a very nice job in the game.”
The Florida State offense took over after the first quarter, though, racking up 492 total yards — including 266 on the ground. Former Miami Central High standout Devonta Freeman led the way for the Seminoles with 10 carries for 112 yards and a score.
“I left a lot out there. I’ve got to get better; I think we’ve got to get better as a whole unit,” Freeman said. “You may be satisfied [with your performance] for maybe a day, but after that I’ve just got to find what I’ve got to get better at.”
Despite a few misfires early, Jameis Winston finished 10-for-19 passing with 148 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought Jameis had a very solid game,” said Fisher before going into what also needed to improve with Florida State’s passing game. “I think he had four dropped balls and one or two bad reads I would like to take back.”
Added Winston: “I was making bad decisions out there, and I was just so unfocused and making a few bad decisions, but the team as a whole did great.”
Defensively, the Seminoles were stout, giving up just 3.3 yards per rush and limiting Bethune-Cookman to 60 passing yards.
Terrance Smith, starting in place of suspended senior linebacker Christian Jones, led the team with 12 tackles and a sack in the first start of his career.
“Pretty much I knew this was my first opportunity, so I just wanted to make the most of it and show the people what I could do,” Smith said. “They were running a lot of zone plays, and I just read it right. I was able to
... make some big tackles.”
Florida State travels to Chestnut Hill next Saturday to face Boston College.
“We’ve got a lot of room to grow, but we did the things we needed to do and now we get to go back in our conference [next week at BC],” Fisher said.
“[We] need to play better on the road and have to clean a lot of things up, but we’re getting where we need to go.”