Jameis Winston was once again as good as advertised on Saturday throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns including one of the highlight reel variety on the final play of the first half. But while Winston shined in eighth-ranked Florida State’s 48-34 victory over Boston College on Saturday, the Seminoles’ defense was thoroughly exposed by an BC squad not exactly accustomed to lighting up the scoreboard.
The Seminoles are 4-0 for a second straight year, but for a third straight week, Florida State struggled to stop the run early on which led to the FSU defense being on the field for long periods of time. Andre Williams and the Boston College offense pounded away at the Florida State defense racing to an early 17-3 lead. For much of the season, the Seminoles have taken a bend, but don’t break approach, but on Saturday and not just in the first half, the Florida State defense broke and right now, that’s something that needs fixing.
Against a Boston College team that scored just seven points its last time out against USC and just seven points against Florida State last season in Tallahassee, the Eagles lit up the scoreboard for 34. The 34 points was the most for Boston College against a FBS school since mid-October of 2009.
In addition to the 34 points, Florida State gave up a season-high 397 yards which was the most for Boston College since October 6th of last season against Army. The Seminole defense allowed senior quarterback Chase Rettig to throw for a career-high four touchdowns while the BC ground game led by Andre Williams, who finished with 149 yards rushing, hit the 200-yard mark against Florida State.
Perhaps even more alarming than the numbers for the Florida State defense however, was the lack of discipline. The Seminoles committed just five penalties for 44 yards, but two were personal fouls which enabled Boston College touchdown drives. The most glaring of the two came in the third quarter with the Seminoles on the verge of putting the game away.
Florida State had outscored Boston College 35-3 over a 23-minute span and held a 38-20 lead. Rettig scrambled to the sideline and stepped out of bounds shy of the line of scrimmage making for what would have been a 3rd-and-12. Instead, Rettig was hit by Christian Jones, a senior linebacker, out of bounds giving BC an automatic first down. The Eagles went on to score to make it 38-27 and were able to hang in the game the rest of the way.
Also alarming was how often the Eagles were able to roll Rettig to his right and throw back the other way for big plays and scores. Twice, Rettig was able to hit tight end C.J. Parsons for touchdowns by rolling to his right and throwing across the grain.
For a third straight game, Florida State lost the time of possession battle. Most of the discrepancy came early on and this has been an often misleading statistic due the Seminoles’ ability to strike quickly on offense, but on Saturday, Boston College had four drives that lasted at least four minutes and another that went for 3:57 and resulted in a touchdown.
There were a few bright spots on defense for Florida State on Saturday however as the Seminoles tied a season-high with two interceptions. Florida State also scored a defensive touchdown for a second straight week as P.J. Williams returned a Rettig pass 20 yards for a score. Nate Andrews also picked off his first career pass and defensive end Desmond Hollin recorded his first career sack.
But overall, the Florida State defensive effort on Saturday was a very weak one against a Boston College team that lacks depth and play-making ability on offense. It is worth noting that the Seminoles were without starters Mario Edwards Jr. and Tyler Hunter, but FSU should have plenty of depth and talent to replace them with little ill-felt effect and on Saturday, that was not the case.
In what was the worst game under first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the Seminoles have to be hopeful that Saturday’s game serves as a wake-up call. The upcoming four-game stretch for FSU features three games against ranked teams including a visit to third-ranked Clemson and a home date with rival Miami.
Upcoming this week for Florida State is #25 Maryland. Led by senior quarterback C.J. Brown, who is a dual-threat, the Terrapins come in with a very balanced offensive approach. Maryland is averaging nearly 40 points-per-game and 227 yards rushing. Fortunately for the Seminoles, freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been better than advertised, but rarely do national championship caliber football teams win shootouts on a weekly basis. If FSU has any hope of winning a second straight ACC crown and competing for a national title, things have to turn around defensively and quick.