59 unanswered points by No. 9 Florida State and a 62-7 victory against Nevada goes a long way toward making fans forget about a slow start.
Through the first 27 minutes of the Seminoles home opener Saturday, Florida State did not appear to be the same group that demolished Pittsburgh 41-13 two weeks ago on the road.
After preparing to stop a fast-paced, hurry-up offense Nevada audibled because quarterback Cody Farjado, who had an undisclosed injury, could not play.
Nevada used a ball control, power running offense. And it worked early as the Wolf Pack took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.
Then Florida State came alive and held Nevada to 82 yards the rest of the way.
“That’s all coaching,” joked coach Jimbo Fisher. “I just think our kids realized we were in the game, and we responded and quit worrying about results and worried about the process and started taking it one play at a time.”
Big second half
That approach worked for Fisher’s Seminoles, who lit the scoreboard up in the second half.
“We don’t look at the scoreboard because we know the only people that can beat us are ourselves,” redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston said. “That’s what coach Fisher always harps on and we bet on ourselves so when that adversity came we knew we had to go higher.”
After a couple of early incompletions and a pick, Winston recovered by completing his next 13 passes, driving the Seminoles down the field for two late first-half scores and finishing the day 15 of 18 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a second-half score.
“That’s part of the growing up stage you got to do,” Fisher said. “What I liked about it was he made a mistake and didn’t get gun shy. He went right back to it and started making throws and making plays.”
After a field goal, an interception and a punt on their first three drives, Florida State proceeded to score on its next nine consecutive possessions, scoring 62 points despite running 63 offensive plays.
Miami Central graduate Devonta Freeman ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, but the breakout star for the day was safety-turned-running back Karlos Williams.
“I’m not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat,” Fisher said. “He’s very dynamic with the ball, he’s big, he’s strong and explosive. He’s a natural.”
Williams found an opening for a 65-yard touchdown run on the first carry of his career. The 6-1 223-pound junior finished with a team-best 110 yards on eight carries.
The Seminoles finished with 617 total yards while giving up just 214. Six running backs scored touchdowns for Florida State as the Seminoles picked up 377 rushing yards — 316 of them in the second half.
Defensively, the Seminoles struggled early as they adjusted to Nevada’s game plan, but by midway through the second quarter Jeremy Pruitt’s unit had settled down.
“We just had to make a couple adjustments,” junior defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. “I saw a lot of things on film that I came out prepared for that they didn’t do, so I had to adjust my game.”
With Farjado out, Nevada was forced to turn to Devin Combs. He was going 6 of 9 for 41 yards and a touchdown before being knocked out with an injury. Tyler Stewart replaced him and struggled, completing 7 of 15 passes. He threw an interception to safety Tyler Hunter to end one of the few promising drives the Wolf Pack sustained in the second half.
It’s possible Florida State won’t face a legitimate challenge until the Seminoles travel to Clemson on Oct. 19.
For now though, Fisher and the Seminoles aren’t about to rest on their laurels.
“I’m proud of our guys, [that’s] one more game,” Fisher said. “Got to continue and get ready for Bethune [Cookman].”