Florida State new what it was getting into Saturday, knew it was going to get Boston College’s best shot.
The No. 8 Seminoles bested the Eagles 48-34, and the main story line as FSU departed Boston that evening was a near-miraculous last-second touchdown pass that saw Jameis Winston evade two defenders before finding Kenny Shaw for a 55-yard touchdown.
But FSU also was met with significant resistance. BC — fresh off a bye week — came in well-rested and well-prepared and potentially exposed cracks in the Seminoles’ defense and special teams.
“Hard-fought victory on the road, we knew this was going to be a tough football game, knew it going in,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher after the game. “They caught us with some things and made some plays and got us behind early, but the kids kept a lot of poise, I think.”
The Seminoles (4-0) have made a habit of slow starts this season. They trailed Pittsburgh in their opener, fell behind Nevada early and took a couple of drives to get going last weekend against Bethune-Cookman.
Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium was no different.
“We’ve got to learn to start better. We had some mistakes, some critical mistakes I thought on that first drive on offense that were inexcusable,” Fisher said.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Winston missed on his first two passes before taking an 11-yard sack that sent the punt team on to the field. A low punt and a 19-yard return set Boston College up with great field position — as the Eagles had for much of the day — with the ball at the Seminoles 36.
Boston College would go on to score in each of its first three possessions — taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter. In total, the Eagles racked up more than 200 yards rushing. BC running back Andre Williams finished with 149 yards on 28 carries, and quarterback Chase Rettig utilized FSU’s overaggressiveness to throw for a career-high four touchdown passes.
“We’ve got to go back. We’re going to look at film and see what we did wrong because this, we didn’t expect this,” sophomore cornerback PJ Williams said after the game. “We expect to come out and dominate teams and play hard, so we’re going to back and look at what we can do better.”
In total, the Eagles amassed 397 yards, and the 34 points they scored was the most against FSU in the series’ history.
This is the portion of FSU’s schedule where things get difficult, too.
The Seminoles host No. 25 Maryland on Saturday before traveling to Clemson in three weeks to face the third-ranked Tigers. North Carolina State visits the following weekend. Then the annual slugfest with the 14th-ranked Miami Hurricanes at home is on Nov. 2.
FSU’s offense has scored points in bunches this year — putting up at least 48 in every game this season — but if Saturday was any indication, the Seminoles’ young defense might not be as far along as defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s would like.
“We’ve got to get better in all three phases,” Fisher said after the game. “But guys we’re a work in progress. We’re learning to win on the road, we’re very proud of that, and we’re 4-0.”