This past Labor Day the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles faced the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels in the second ACC-SEC faceoff of college football’s opening weekend. Both the Seminoles and Rebels were coming off a 10-3 season and hoping to make a playoff run this year starting with a win. Throughout the first half Ole Miss was playing similar to last year’s team that beat then No. 1 ranked Alabama. With returning quarterback Chad Kelly at helm, the Rebels were off to a fast start. The opening drive lasted less than two minutes and ended with a passing touchdown. The Florida State defense was unable to even slow the no-huddle offensive style the Rebels were boasting. The Seminoles showed some promise defensively after an interception by Sophomore All-American Safety Derwin James. However, the Seminoles could not get anything going offensively, punting the drive following the interception. By the end of the first quarter neither team accomplished much with the Rebels only leading 7-3 the game was still anyone’s for the taking. The second quarter told a different story.
The Rebels scored three touchdowns in the second quarter making the Florida State defense look like high schoolers. The pass rush was ineffective allowing Chad Kelly to stay in the pocket and make easy connections with his receivers. The secondary was also confused due the no-huddle offense allowing receivers wide open space to run to. Kelly threw three touchdown passes in the first half. The only positive the Seminoles could take away from was they were able to keep their opponents to under fifty rushing yards Florida State was unable to move the ball on offense in part due to the inexperience of redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois who was only given the starter position after Sean Maguire re-injured his foot. Deondre was flustered in the pocket not wanting to stay when he should have and trying to scramble when he needed to pass it. Penalties plagued the Florida State offensive line effectively reversing any of the progress made downfield. The Noles tried to fall back on Dalvin Cook to get the offense moving, as they did last year, but the Rebels were prepared for the run game. Ole Miss knew if they stopped Dalvin, they stopped the Florida State offense. That was true for the most part with the Rebels’ defense only allowing six points in five drives. It was not until the final drive off the first half when Francois found junior wide receiver Travis Rudolph for the Seminoles’ first touchdown. Francois showed good pocket presence, sensed the pressure coming, but stayed in the pocket to get the pass off before taking a hard hit. The first half ended with Ole Miss leading 28-13 and no sign of slowing down.
The Seminoles started slowly in the second half but picked up speed quickly scoring a field goal and then three touchdowns. Florida State Tight End Ryan Izzo showcased his catching ability by bringing in three reception for forty-one yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Everything seemed to be working both offensively and defensively for the Seminoles. Deondre Francois looked like a veteran starter staying in the pocket even when pressured and scrambling for long runs when he needed. Demarcus Walker stepped it up on defense in the second half sacking Chad Kelly four times, one of which forced a fumble that lead to a Florida State touchdown. Once Florida State took the lead they never let it go and overcame a twenty-two point deficit, the largest comeback in school history, winning with a score of 45-34. Compiling 350 yards and thirty two points in the second half while keeping the Rebels to only 68 yards and one touchdown. Dalvin Cook did not have a breakout game as Seminole fans have become accustomed to seeing, but he still proved effective on offense with ninety one rushing yards and 101 receiving yards. Both Deondre Francois and true freshman kicker Ricky Aguayo had a great debut game. Aguayo setting the new Florida State record of most field goals made in a game with six, while Francois threw the ball for 419 yards and two touch downs. Jimbo now has a tough decision of whether to start freshman Francois or veteran starter Maguire for the upcoming game against Charleston Southern.
By DYLAN GELLER / Contributing Writer