"I can't say enough about our players ability to overcome adversity," coach Jimbo Fisher said. Much of Florida State's success has to be attributed to the play of senior quarterback E.J. Manuel, who had arguably the most complete game in his career.
Manuel threw for a career-high 380 yards, two touchdowns, and gained an additional 102 yards on the ground. At the end of the game, Florida State had racked up 667 yards of total offense.
Manuel became the first Florida State quarterback since Charlie Ward to throw for over 300 yards, and rush for 100 yards.
When asked about the play of his veteran quarterback, coach Fisher grinned from ear to ear. "It wasn't bad," Fisher said. "I don't remember him making a bad decision all night. He's a tremendous leader for our football team." Despite outgaining Clemson in every offensive category in the first half, the Seminoles found themselves trailing 21-14 at halftime.
FSU had no one to blame but themselves for being in such a hole due to a number of uncharacteristic miscues and penalties.
Some players even got down on themselves and began to feel the game slipping away until Manuel came to the rescue again.
"I'm not even going to lie, I came in the locker room a little down. I didn't want to lose this game, it would mess us up for our team goal," sophomore running back James Wilder Jr. said. "He (Manuel) came in, told everybody to be quiet and took leadership."
FSU came out in the second half and immediately had another penalty on the kickoff, pinning them inside the 20 and eventually forcing them to punt. It was five plays later, on a fake screen wide receiver pass from sophomore wide receiver Sammy Watkins, that FSU reached their lowest point of the game as they now trailed 28-14 and seemed to have no answer for the Clemson offense.
That touchdown seemed to really light a fire under the FSU offense who scored a touchdown on their next four possessions.
Along with that, the FSU defense also got back to the basics and seemed to find a comfort zone. "We just needed to calm down," sophomore defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "We needed to get back to the basics and fundamentals. That's how I know we have grown as a team, because we kept fighting."
After the wide receiver pass from Watkins, the FSU defense did not allow Clemson to score again until late in the fourth and by that point Clemson was already out of it.
A win like this is certainly something Tallahassee hasn't seen in quite some time, but at the end of the day it is just one win.
"We were very fortunate to come out on top," Fisher said. "We should win big games here at Florida State. We're 4-0, that's all it is. We have a critical game next week against South Florida, we have to get ready for that and put this one behind us."