The fly on the wall in the Florida State locker room at half-time must have gotten a tongue lashing from head coach Jimbo Fisher, along with everyone in Garnet and Gold.
The Seminoles looked nothing like a top ten team through the majority of the first half Monday night. There were errant throws, spotty pass protection, and mysteries of the unknown — namely an unexplained drop of the football by superstar running back Dalvin Cook, just as he was waltzing into the end zone.
If all of that weren’t enough, yellow flags were being thrown against them like a penalty-riddled ticker-tape parade.
To say that it was a mistake filled first half of football would be an insult to all of the college football teams that made mistakes in the history of this great game.
As bad as things were going for Florida State however, the opposite was true on the Ole Miss sideline.
Quarterback Chad Kelly threw for three touchdowns and used his legs to almost tease, and certainly frustrate the Seminole defense and keep drives alive. On defense, the Rebels dictated the pace by controlling things at the point of attack and forcing some quick throws and bad decisions by freshman quarterback Deondre Francois.
A touchdown pass right before halftime by the 6-2, 205lb. Francois looked more like a slight exhale by the Ole Miss defense, rather than a turning of momentum. It looked for all the world like yet another top ten team was going to go down in flames on college football’s opening weekend.
Back to the fly on the wall …
Both teams came out of halftime with good intentions, but only one team remembered that a college football game is comprised of two thirty-minute halves, not one.
All of a sudden, all that went wrong in the first half for Florida State seemed like a distant memory, and it looked every bit like a team that could contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Francois began to get throws out quicker, he stood in the pocket with poise after making the correct reads, and the offense stopped dropping passes (and wide open touchdown rambles).
On defense, the Seminoles began to ratchet up the pressure — feeding off an offense finally finding its pulse and breath.
Four Rebel turnovers and 33 unanswered points by Florida State later, and you can probably write the rest of the script on your own. Sure Kelly managed to tighten things up with another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for Ole Miss, but the writing was on the wall right along with the fly at half-time.
Florida State added two more field goals by kicker Ricky Aguayo to put the game out of reach, giving Jimbo Fisher and company a 45-34 win and showing the same resiliency that has defined the team over the last three years.
— Drew Copley (@DrewASJax) April 9, 2016
For Ole Miss, it’s back to the drawing board to try and figure out what went wrong for thirty minutes, but for the Seminoles, it’s the first step in a marathon to try and find a way to elbow their way to Tampa.
If they make it, I’d like to be a fly on the wall in Raymond James Stadium on January 9.