Florida State was trailing for the first time this season and facing a third-and-8 deep in its own territory midway through the fourth quarter Saturday against Miami.
Fail to convert and Miami could seal the win, or at least make it very difficult for FSU, depending on the time remaining when it got the ball again.
“That play, we really grew up,” coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Everett Golson zipped a pass to the middle of the field to Jesus Wilson for 20 yards to the Seminoles’ 38-yard line. Five plays later, Dalvin Cook put the finishing touches on the drive with a 23-yard TD run, recapturing a lead FSU would not relinquish in a 29-24 victory.
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“Big time scramble, throw,” Fisher said. “There has to be some conviction, knowing where you’re going with it, understanding where you’re going with it and trusting yourself and that receiver.”
The pass encapsulated Golson’s night and his best performance to date for FSU. He completed 25 of 33 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown and had a 159.8 rating, second only to a 230.3 rating in the season-opener against Texas State.
And Fisher showed a lot more trust in his graduate transfer quarterback, calling for more downfield throws and opening up the offense.
Golson entered the game averaging 7.2 yards per attempt. On Saturday, he averaged 8.8 yards per attempt.
Fisher said Monday expanding the offense was a combination of Golson growing in the offense, the pass protection improving and the young receivers maturing.
“It’s the evolution of what we’re doing offensively,” Fisher said.
No. 11 FSU (5-0, 3-0 ACC) will keep trying to evolve Saturday against Louisville (2-3, 1-1) in a game scheduled for noon at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Golson is 28th nationally in passing efficiency and one of three quarterbacks in the top 40 without an interception.
Wilson, who had five receptions, said Golson was unusually “hyped” before the game.
“We’ve never seen that before,” Wilson said. “He’s usually quiet. To see that, I knew he had a lot of confidence. He was poised.”
Golson still has not spoken to the media since his only availability during the team’s preseason media day Aug. 9. Fisher said the reason is to allow him to grow and get comfortable without any outside distractions.
“It’s what I think is best for our football team and what I think is best for him,” Fisher said. “There may be a time he does [talk], but just not right now.”
Fisher credited Golson’s experience of playing in 25 games for Notre Dame, including the 2012 BSC national title game, in helping FSU overcame its first brush with adversity this season.
Miami took the lead with 10:01 remaining in the game. The Seminoles responded to trailing for the first time in five games with the eight-play drive kept alive by the 20-yard pass to Wilson and capped by consecutive 23-yard runs by Cook.
“What I liked was controlling the momentum of the game and the tempo of the game and then when you lose it, the way you can change it back is people have to change it back,” Fisher said. “Big-time players making big-time plays.”
▪ Fisher said the swelling in linebacker Terrance Smith’s ankle has improved, but his availability for the Louisville game remains unknown. Smith did not play against Miami.
▪ Cook was named the ACC’s offensive back of the week after rushing for 222 yards and scoring three touchdowns (one on a reception) against Miami. Defense end DeMarcus Walker (two sacks) was named defensive lineman of the week.