Over the last couple of years, Florida State has played to the level of its competition. That didn't happen on Saturday as the Seminoles came out of the BYE week strong and controlled UMass from beginning to end in a 59-3 victory. Ok, well, for about one minute it was a little uneasy after Travis Jay fumbled the opening kickoff and the Minutemen took a 3-0 lead. Other than that, it was basically complete domination.
Running back Jashaun Corbin continued to stay hot, compiling 11 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. It could've been even more but Florida State was up by so much that there was no point in risking an injury. Corbin was one of five different Seminoles to score a rushing touchdown, something that hadn't been done since the 2013 season.
The defense did what it was supposed to do. The unit shut out UMass outside of a field goal on a shortfield after a turnover, recorded four sacks, and forced three takeaways.
Here are three thoughts on the win.
1. Florida State has found its identity on offense
The start to this season was ugly as the Seminoles had a rotating door at quarterback, failed to consistently utilize their best playmakers, and were turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Over the last three games, there has been a clear shift in the mindset of this team as Florida State has established an identity on offense. They've turned the ball over just one time on offense during this three-game winning streak and even that miscue was a freaky interception on a missed block.
In victories over North Carolina and Massachussetts, we've seen FSU commit to the run no matter the situation. The Seminoles ran the ball 41 times to 13 passes against the Tar Heels. That trend continued on Saturday as they ran 45 times to 15 passes. Third and long, stacked boxes, it hasn't mattered. The trio of Jashaun Corbin, Treshaun Ward, and Jordan Travis is producing and the staff needs to continue to set them up for success.
The unit is also putting scoring drives together. Florida State has gone a perfect 15/15 in the red zone during the winning streak. With five weeks left in the season, I think the best of this offense is yet to come.
2. The defense is forcing turnovers and continuing to have success on later downs
Like the offense, Florida State's defense is beginning to figure things out after getting torched in the first four games. The 'Noles have won the turnover battle in two straight games (after losing the previous five) and some of that success has to be attributed to the defense. Jarrian Jones came away with an interception against North Carolina while Jammie Robinson and Jarvis Brownlee had picks against UMass. Amari Gainer forced a fumble that DJ Lundy recovered as FSU forced a season-high three turnovers.
Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller's unit is also stepping up on later downs. During the last three games, Florida State has forced its opponents to go 12/37 (32.4%) on third-down and 0/6 (0%) on fourth-down. Both of those marks are above the Seminoles' season averages of 39.4% and 25%, respectively.
The defense will need more timely plays with some tough opponents awaiting them in the final weeks of the regular season.
3. The game at Clemson will define the Seminoles' season
Too cryptic? Regardless, this is a huge game for Florida State. Not only is it a chance to get to .500, which is something no one would've thought a month ago, but it's also an opportunity for the Seminoles to snap a five-game losing streak to Clemson. The Tigers are not what they've been over the past five plus years. They are just 4-3 to this point and have struggled mightily on defense.
On the other end, FSU is hitting its stride and beginning to blossom each week. In my opinion, these are two teams that are moving in opposite directions. If the 'Noles can start fast in Death Valley, they could make the Tigers start doubting themselves.
A win would move head coach Mike Norvell one step closer to achieving bowl eligiblity during his second season in Tallahassee. Florida State is going to need to win three of its final five games (@ Clemson, vs NC State, vs Miami, @ Boston College, @ Florida) to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2019.
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