FSU’s Mike Norvell: Seminoles have plenty of heart and won’t quit despite rough start to season
Less than 48 hours after a stunning loss to Jacksonville State, Florida State was still picking up the pieces on what is arguably one of the worst losses in recent memory. But the Seminoles don’t have the luxury of wallowing in their own misery with a road contest against Wake Forest Saturday.
FSU began preparations Sunday night for the Demon Deacons with the loss still fresh on their minds.
“We didn’t just sit out there and drag our heads around,” coach Mike Norvell said during Monday’s news conference. “Was anybody happy? No. They were sick to their freaking stomach about what happened Saturday night. But you go back out and you go to work.
“We played two games. We lost both games on the last play of the game. At the end of the day, they made the plays necessary and we have not played to the level that I believe that we’re capable of.”
Much of the disappointment surrounding Saturday’s 20-17 loss to Jacksonville State, the program’s first to a Football Championship Subdivision school, centered around mistakes and miscues that would wind up costing the team in the final seconds.
Florida State led 17-14 with six seconds remaining when Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper found Damond Philyaw-Johnson open at the FSU 21-yard line. The Seminoles chose not to play a prevent defense and Philyaw-Johnson made them pay by slipping past two defenders into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
“We backed up our corners and we knew situationally there were six seconds left and they had a timeout,” Norvell explained. “It wasn’t a Hail Mary situation in that situation. We had a defense called where we wanted to keep all routes in front of us.”
Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said the ‘Noles went with a four-man rush on the play in hopes of getting to the quarterback.
“It became more of a one-on-one play than I wanted it. I wanted more of a two-on-one play but it happened,” Fuller said. “You’ve got to make a tackle at the end and try to win the game there and we didn’t. I’m disappointed with the result of the play for sure.”
Norvell once again put the onus on himself and the coaching staff on the final result.
“There are things that show up on that play that we will have to live with,” Norvell said of the effort on that final play. “I really do think there was a sense of shock that hit some guys and they froze in a moment and that’s something that can’t happen.”
It wasn’t that one play that was the only disappointing thing for Norvell and his staff.
It was the inordinate amount of penalties that cost the team several opportunities on both sides of the football. FSU had 11 penalties for 114 yards against the Gamecocks including nine in the second half.
“We wanting to take shots down the field but we called five shots and [because of] penalties, we were 0-for-5 for negative-30 yards on those shots,” said offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham.
On its first offensive possession of the second half, the Seminoles were called for three penalties (holding 2, blocking below the waist) for 35 yards that resulted in the team being forced to punt.
It wasn’t just the offense that struggled with penalties.
FSU’s defense was flagged for pass interference and targeting on two crucial 3rd-down plays on JSU’s second-to-last touchdown drive.
“We thought we had them stopped numerous times on that second-to-last drive,” added Fuller. “And for whatever reason, we didn’t.”
Despite the enormity of the loss, Norvell believes there is plenty of fight remaining in this team.
“I do believe in the character in the heart of our kids,” Norvell said. “I believe in the culture of what we do. And the fact that we didn’t quit against Notre Dame. I believe in these kids because I know what they invest. I know what they work. I know how much it hurts whenever you come up short.
“This football team’s not going to quit. We have to build and get better and we’re going to. This will be something that we look back to. Nobody wants to have the experience. We want to have the feelings, but it’s our opportunity to respond to it and it’s our opportunity to go get better.”