NEW ORLEANS — The questions around the Florida State football program aren’t going away.
However, unlike the past three years, the questions are going to be positive ones.
The biggest one:
Is the 24-23 win here Sunday for the Seminoles over new coach Brian Kelly and LSU the biggest one in the Mike Norvell tenure?
The game came down to the final play with FSU winning the game on a blocked extra point attempt after an LSU score by Shyheim Brown.
That’s the question that will be asked over the next week after Florida State (2-0) took down LSU (0-1) in the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
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Here are five takeaways from Florida State’s victory.
Special teams rollercoaster
This game of course came down to special teams, with both teams struggling with the unit throughout the game.
Shyheim Brown’s block capped the win in a game with craziness on the special teams units.
A few plays later, it was Wyatt Rector who recovered a muffed punt to put FSU in prime scoring position. FSU did not score on the drive, but it swung the momentum pendulum their way.
Fitzgerald redeemed himself with a field goal from 25 yards out in the third quarter.
The special teams unit for LSU also struggled. The Tigers had the field goal block, as well as a punt that went only 31 yards and gave the Seminoles great field position and led them to take a two touchdown lead.
Malik Nabers muffed his second punt of the game with just over two minutes left to kill any chance for an LSU comeback.
The unit was a rollercoaster for the Seminoles in the first half.
The game began with an errant kick from placekicker Ryan Fitzgerald, as he kicked the ball out of bounds, gifting LSU strong field position, which the Tigers turned into a 3-0 lead. Fitzgerald had another kick out of bounds following an FSU touchdown and missed 47-yard field goal.
The special teams unit took a turn pretty quickly after that. Following a second kick of bounds, Jared Verse made a big play on special teams, blocking a 30-yard FG which would have brought LSU within one point.
The blocked kick was the first for FSU since Sept. 12, 2020 against Georgia Tech.
For years the SEC has been known for its toughness and strong defenses, with LSU typically on the forefront of that.
Sunday, the Seminoles went toe-to-toe with one of the toughest teams in the nation and did not bat an eye.
A perfect example of that came in the third quarter when Travis delivered a strike to Ontaria Wilson for a 27-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Travis was hit by Ali Gaye on what was correctly deemed a targeting call. Wilson made a spectacular one-handed catch, but the play showed the toughness FSU showed all game.
FSU limited LSU to 348 yards with most of the yardage coming with the Tigers trailing late. The Seminoles putting constant pressure in the Tigers’ backfield to limit the run game and hold them to 39 yards of rushing from non-Daniels players.
The Seminoles talked during the week about playing their game and not worrying about the opponent. They backed that up when taking the field. The constant pressure from the defensive line caused Jayden Daniels to run for his life all game and he never established himself in the pocket.
Daniels struggled, completing 26-of-35 passes for just 209 yards and two touchdowns.
FSU possessed the ball for 34:06, while LSU had it for 24:35.
Jordan Travis in spotlight
Travis was the offense for the Seminoles on Sunday, especially with the run game never gaining traction.
A week after rushing for 406 yards, FSU was limited to xxx yards and a xx yards per carry.
Travis was 20-of-32 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 28 rush yards.
When was Travis at his best? On third downs.
While leading the Seminoles down field to their first score, Travis was 4-for-4 on third downs on the drive, including two completions for eight and nine yards to extend drives.
On the day, FSU was 11-for-17 on the money down, with Travis directing contributing to all but one of them.
Defense steps up
Kayshon Boutte’s name is going to be heard come the NFL Draft in April. For the majority of Sunday’s contest, it was not a name that was heard.
The Seminoles took the elite playmaker out of the game, limiting him to two catches, 20 yards and as many drops as catches.
Taking him out of the game was part of the gameplan and FSU executed. Jammie Robinson and Omarion Cooper each lined up against Boutte, as did a few others.
Part of the reason Boutte could never get going is because of the defensive line. The Seminoles compiled four sacks, but the constant pressure on the young OL for LSU caused Daniels to scramble for his life for much of the game.
Verse collected his second and third sacks of the season. Tatum Bethune added a sack, while Dennis Briggs Jr. and Kalen DeLoach each added half a sack. All three players played a major role on defense, with DeLoach leading the team with x tackles.
No second guessing
The great thing about a win?
No one is going to second guess your decisions.
Mike Norvell might have come under scrutiny if FSU had lost the ballgame with his decision to forgo a short field goal on fourth and two near the end of the first half.
Instead, Norvell opted to go for it, with a pass from Travis to Pittman falling to the ground, giving the ball back to LSU in a 7-3 contest with 3:15 left in the first half/.
The analytics showed FSU’s chances increased to 69% chance of winning if it converted. It would have been 65% if Norvell opted to kick the ball. But Fitzgerald had already missed a field goal and had kicked two balls out of bounds to that point.
Follow Ehsan Kassim on Twitter at @Ehsan_Kassim.