TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Coach Mike Norvell has built a culture in Florida State where hard work is embraced, and the 19th-ranked Seminoles are beginning to make the progress he envisioned.
They’ve gone from three wins in 2020, his first season, to five in 2021 and now seven and this year. After three midseason games, the Seminoles (7-3) have won three straight games, including a 42-point loss to rivals Miami and a 38-3 win over Syracuse last Saturday night. They finished the Atlantic Coast Conference game 5-3, the most league wins for the program since 2016.
“We talked about wanting to make a statement about how we’re done,” Norvell said. “We secured at least second place in the Atlantic Division, which is not where we want to go. But it definitely shows growth. It’s showing progress and even with that stretch in the middle of the season I thought our boys have responded at a very high level with our last three games in the ACC.
In Norvell’s third year, there was cautious optimism for the state of Florida. The team was selected to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division in the preseason. The Seminoles lost three games in a row in October to ACC-ranked teams — Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Clemson — but ended on a rebound, beating Georgia Tech, Miami and Syracuse with a combined 124-22
“We’ve dominated the last three games, but we can still do better,” said Norvell. “That’s the boost. That’s one of the things I appreciate about this team is that they understand the growth process. Every one of these players, not just with what they’re doing here in the state of Florida, but all are striving to get to the next level. They all want to do more.”
After two lost seasons, Norvell and the Seminoles are qualified for the Bowl for the first time since 2019. And Norvell’s Florida State record is 15-16 with a chance of him reaching .500 with a win on Saturday. Next up is a home game against Louisiana, who finished 5-5 in his first season under Michael Desormeaux. The Rajin’ Cajuns have relied on a stingy defense that ranks No. 30 on the FBS. They’ve only allowed 21.2 points per game despite not yet playing a power five opponent.
“These are fun games to go out and play in,” Desormeaux said. “You can play against a really good team along the way, in an environment like we’re going to have over there in Florida state. That’s something our players are excited about.”
TOP 20 X 2
Florida State ranks in the FBS’ top 20 in total offense (16th at 477 yards) and total defense (11th at 293 yards). The Seminoles are one of only four teams to make the top 20 in both categories, along with two undefeated teams, Georgia and Ohio State and Alabama.
Florida State hasn’t conceded a touchdown in 23 straight drives and conceded just one field goal in each of its last two games. The Seminoles are also forcing more takeaways, and nickel cornerback Greedy Vance has interceptions in back-to-back games.
“We can always get better,” Vance said. “We still have small mistakes throughout the week. We still strive to play a perfect game.”
Oregon transfer Trey Benson had three straight 100-yard rushing games and set a career-high 163 yards on 18 carries in the Syracuse win. He is the first player in ACC history to be named running back of the week three times in a row.
Louisiana receiver Michael Jefferson leads the team with 39 receptions for 669 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-4 Jefferson has had touchdown receptions in four of his last five games. Norvell said he views Jefferson as an NFL prospect.
Quarterback Jordan Travis had a touchdown rush and receive and three passing TDs in the win at Syracuse. He is only the second Florida State player to have a charging, receiving and passing touchdown in a single game, and the first since Red Parish in 1949.
Travis completed 21 of 23 passes for a career-best 91.3 completion percentage against the Orange. The redshirt junior has now surpassed 5,000 career passing yards in Florida State.
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