Florida State’s defense has picked up right where it left off last year. When they haven’t been victimized by bad field position or turnovers, the Seminoles have been absolutely stifling on defense so far in this one.
After deferring on the kickoff, FSU forced a three-and-out on its very first defensive series of the season. Then, after a Roberto Aguayo field goal, Nate Andrews intercepted Oklahoma State’s first pass of the season and took it back nine yards for the ‘Noles first touchdown of the year.
Oklahoma State didn’t have its first 1st down until the 1:51 point in the first quarter. Early on, the Seminole defense looked fierce. Oklahoma State didn’t have any luck with pushing the front off the point of attack, its misdirection didn’t work and FSU’s secondary wasn’t letting much come open. There was a time a few years ago — back during the ‘lost decade’ — that a toss to a back in the flats would go for five or six yards. Nowadays, it gets snuffed out almost immediately.
The Cowboys were just not going to be able to have success going laterally against the Seminole defense, and about mid-way through the second quarter they seem to have realized it.
Oklahoma State scored its first touchdown of the evening on a 75-yard, 11-play drive that saw them start to get Tyreke Hill more involved while also attacking the defensive interior. After forcing the Seminoles to respect Hill’s speed — and motioning him out to the flats on most plays to loosen up the middle of FSU’s defense — Florida State’s defensive tackles started getting driven back or failing to hold at the point, and that’s given the Cowboys some space.
FSU was able to adjust on its next defensive series, forcing a three-and-out. But a late interception by Jameis Winston put the Cowboys in great field position and allowed them to kick a field goal as they headed into the tunnel.
Offensively, this game feels a little bit like last year’s early games. The Seminoles have had some success but they have also had some miscues. Karlos Williams has already fumbled once and nearly had a second– were it not for the officials whistling his forward progress dead. He was spelled by Mario Pender — who scored an 11-yard touchdown on his first career carry — in the second quarter.
Jameis Winston has also looked out of sync on many of his throws as well. He was behind on a couple passes over the middle, grounded a screen and was picked off twice– once in the red-zone to end a promising Florida State drive and again at the end of the half.
But Winston’s also shown glimmers of why he’s the reigning Heisman winner as well, connecting with Christian Green on a long 62-yard pass and dropping a beautiful pass over the shoulder of a fairly well-covered Rashad Greene.
FSU leads at the half but momentum is starting to favor Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ two late scoring drives, coupled with a pair of interceptions have them right in this ballgame. FSU is going to need to make some offensive adjustments in order to pull aways in the second half.