The 2022 Louisiana Kickoff game was one for the ages. On Sunday night inside the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Florida State held on to defeat LSU 24-23. The Brian Kelly era for LSU is off to a not-so-great start. On the other side, Mike Norvell’s team has looked solid with two wins in FSU’s first two games of the season. So far, the Noles are much improved from a season ago. Despite injuries, the Florida State Seminoles prevailed and are on track to finish better than projected this season.
Louisiana Kickoff: One For The Ages
New Orleans was rocking on Sunday night as the Caesars Superdome was a 50/50 split between FSU and LSU fans. Coming into the game, the Seminoles fan base knew that the week zero game against Duquesne was only a tune-up for a pivotal match-up against LSU. In what was basically a home game for the Tigers, FSU got off to a hot start. LSU scored first as freshman kicker Damian Ramos booted a 36-yard field goal to give the Tigers an early 3-0 lead. In the second quarter, Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis found Ontaria Wilson for a 39-yard touchdown pass on an astounding flea flicker trick play. Travis has looked poised in the pocket through FSU’s first two games. Many believe that it is time to give Travis the respect he deserves early in the 2022 season.
The Seminoles jumped out to a 17-3 lead as the defense was holding its own and containing LSU’s offensive line to avoid giving Jayden Daniels time in the pocket. In the fourth quarter, DJ Lundy extended the Noles’ lead to 24-10 with nine minutes left in the game. At that point, many thought that score was the final dagger that would seal the win. However, the Seminoles defense allowed LSU to push down the field and score to make it a 24-17 game with four minutes left.
Just as the Noles were about to go up 31-17 with under two minutes to play, Treshaun Ward fumbled at the one-yard line to give LSU a chance to drive 99 yards and tie the game. Preceding FSU’s fumble, LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers fumbled his second punt return of the game. That miscue set FSU up with a terrific field position to close it out.
Noles Special Teams Prevails
The Noles defense played the game it needed to play. Up front, the defensive line pressured LSU early and often. The Tigers’ offensive line really had no answer. But on the final drive, LSU made key plays to get down the field and score. What should have been a game-tying PAT to send it to overtime ended in a Seminoles blocked kick. That block marked the end of a marquee win over a top-tier LSU program.
Assessing the FSU Offense
Travis made solid throws and utilized his pocket presence to lead the Noles down the field. He finished the game 20-of-32 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. After rushing for 406 yards in week zero, the Noles had just 132 total rushing yards. Ward led the Seminoles with 16 carries for 49 yards. Wilson and Mycah Pittman both stepped up in a big way to provide the spark that Florida State needed in the passing game.
Overall, Florida State’s offense still has work to do. If this team is to be better than projected, the miscues have to be few and far between. Norvell and offensive coordinator Alex Atkins drew up the perfect game plan to utilize as many key players as possible to keep LSU’s defense on its heels. In the end, the game plan on offense worked minus the key fumble late in the game. FSU finished 11-of-17 on third down. When it seemed like the Noles would go three-and-out, Travis make plays happen in the pocket with decent throws to open receivers.
Seminoles Defense Clutch
The Louisiana Kickoff was a solid defensive battle in the beginning. FSU constantly pressured LSU and the Tigers had to figure out a way to get down the field. Eventually, it happened but not without consequences. The Noles held Tigers star wideout Kayshon Boutte to just two catches in the game. While Daniels was able to keep drives going with his feet, the pass protection from the Seminoles was solid.
Jared Verse made his presence known all game long with three tackles, two sacks, and two and a half tackles for loss. Kalen DeLoach had seven tackles with half a sack and a huge tackle for loss.
Looking Ahead For FSU
After a wild win in New Orleans, the Seminoles enter an early-season bye week before beginning ACC play on September 16 at Louisville. The off week will certainly help as a few key Seminoles stars will have extra time to recover before the meat of the 2022 schedule begins.
The win for Florida State puts the program at 8-2 all-time against LSU. After suffering a season-opening loss to Brian Kelly’s former team, Notre Dame, in 2021, the Noles leave the Big Easy with a big revenge win over Kelly.