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Florida State Displays Offensive Depth

Florida State displayed a full offensive arsenal against Southern Miss in an explosive performance Saturday night in Tallahassee.

The opening week 45-24 rematch victory over LSU in Orlando was stressful. Now, the Florida State faithful could breathe a sigh of relief. Week two marked somewhat of a tune-up game for the Seminoles prior to the start of conference play. Florida State took on the Sun Belt’s Southern Miss Golden Eagles; a game that also marked the season’s home opener in Doak-Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Southern Miss was fresh off a 40-14 drubbing of FCS foe Alcorn State. The game was never in question, although the Golden Eagles did give up an alarming 184 rushing yards to the Braves. This was perhaps the biggest talking point coming into the game. While the Seminoles passing game was flowing in rhythm against LSU, the running game never quite seemed to get going. However, this was an opportune time for the running back room to step up and shine.

Another question mark coming in was how well the defense could contain Frank Gore Jr., perhaps the most talented and dynamic player on the Golden Eagles roster. He had a breakout season in 2022. Gore Jr. scored both on the ground and through the air in week one. However, his 2023 campaign began somewhat slow in terms of yardage.

Improvements from Week One

The biggest positive takeaway from the game was the Seminoles showing off their depth. Florida State displayed its full offensive arsenal against the Golden Eagles. This game allowed several backup players to see the field and show what they could do. Wide receiver Darion Williamson was one such contributor. He was on the receiving end of a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Travis in the first half. On his first pass attempt, Tate Rodemaker found 6’4” 285-pound backup tight end Markeston Douglas for a powerful 42-yard rumble to the end zone. This was the start of an explosive second half for the Noles offense, largely consisting of second-stringers. Rodemaker went 3-for-3 for 73 yards and two touchdowns, cementing himself as a reliable backup. Overall, eleven different receivers logged a catch over the course of the night.

The passing game wasn’t nearly as much of a point of emphasis as it was against LSU. This opened up lanes in the running game, as the FSU offensive line was able to find a push against the Southern Miss front. Lead back Trey Benson finally got going, efficiently logging nine carries for 79 yards, a third of those touches resulting in scores. The anticipated return of the run game, largely absent during the LSU matchup, was another notable improvement.

Widely regarded as one of the deeper position groups of the team, the running back stable heated up throughout the course of the game. Backup running back Caziah Holmes also found paydirt with a 40-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Holmes didn’t have a carry in the season opener against LSU. The match-up against Southern Miss allowed fans and coaches to see what Holmes could do, even if against a lesser opponent. The Penn State transfer spent the 2022 season on the scout team for the Seminoles and didn’t see much action prior to his transfer. He finished the Southern Miss game with four carries for 63 yards.

Defensive Efficiency

The Florida State defense has been steady from week one to week two. There was no slump or letdown after an impressive performance against LSU. The defensive line maintained its physicality, and the secondary knew its assignments and executed them. Every facet was clicking for Florida State, outgaining the Golden Eagles by nearly 300 yards, 554 to 258.

The defense dampened the Southern Miss offensive efforts, holding the Golden Eagles to three of 13 on third downs. In addition, Gore Jr. couldn’t get started. He logged only 31 yards on 11 carries. A pick-six by Jarrian Jones officially ended the night for the first team midway through the third quarter. This allowed the second team to prove themselves as more than capable of stepping up when called upon. With a 66-13 final tally, the point total marked a record high for the Mike Norvell era.

Moving Forward

The FSU-Southern Miss outcome details the depth that Florida State possesses at several position groups. From top to bottom of the roster, this team is similarly built to and closely mirrors the 2013 National Championship squad. With nearly two full quarters of football under their belts, the backups showed off their talent, and that they can compete when called upon.

Following Alabama’s home loss to Texas over the weekend, the Seminoles moved up to No. 3 in both major polls. The Seminoles also picked up three first-place votes, second-most in the country. This is the first time the program has been ranked in the top three since starting off the 2017 campaign ranked in the same position. Next up: a long road trip to Massachusetts to take on another eagle team, the Boston College Eagles.



Photo courtesy: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports


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