Florida State 30, USF 17

For much of the week leading up to Florida State's first road test of the season against South Florida, head coach Jimbo Fisher talked about how he looked forward to seeing his team respond to adversity in a hostile environment. Despite making mistakes on both sides of the ball, the Seminoles' continued to fight for four quarters on their way to a 30-17 win, something Fisher can't be mad about.

"Our kids fought hard, it was a win on the road in a tough environment," Fisher said. "We knew they were 2-2 and were going to fight hard to get back their season tonight, and they did that. Our kids fought through it. We have a lot of mistakes to clean up and that's ok because we came out with a W, and W's are always good."

After trailing Clemson last week at home, the Seminoles' showed a lot of poise in fighting back from a 14-point deficit in the second half. But doing it at home is a lot different from doing it in someone else's back yard.

USF came out of the gates clearly looking to establish the run and control the clock in order to keep FSU's offense off the field and avoid getting in a shootout.

Early on, the Bulls had some success doing so as they ran the ball right down the field with little resistance from the FSU defense. The key for FSU was being stingy in the redzone, holding USF to field goals, and not giving up touchdowns.

At the end of the first quarter USF ran 24 offensive plays to FSU's nine, and controlled the clock for nearly 11 minutes, but FSU led 7-3. After the first quarter the FSU defense settled down and really focused on playing assignment football.

"The defense was playing too loose in the beginning," Fisher said. "I think they settled down and got their feet on the ground and started playing much better."

It was clear that FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops strategy entering the game was to take away the deep ball, and force USF quarterback B.J. Daniels to be precise and make good decisions under pressure - something he has struggled with for much of his career.

Tank Carradine was a big part of that as he was in the backfield early and often on his way to a team-leading nine tackles including two sacks. On the other hand E.J. Manuel and the FSU offense picked up right where it left off last week against Clemson, firing on all cylinders. Despite putting up 230 yards of offense in the first half, FSU also struggled to convert touchdowns in the red zone keeping the Bulls' in striking distance trailing just 13-3.

FSU had a nightmarish start to the second half as the offense went three and out, and then had a punt blocked which led to a USF touchdown three plays later, cutting the lead to three. After another three and out possession forced the Seminoles to punt, USF had all the momentum with possession of the ball and a big chance to take the lead.

That is, if Daniels could put together a drive on the Seminoles' defense who held the Bulls' to less than 30 yards from the start of the second quarter.

The FSU defense once again stood tall, forced a three and out, and delivered the ball back to EJ Manuel who wasted no time to driving down the field.

Manuel connected with wide receiver Rashad Greene on the first play for a 32-yard gain, and then five plays later connected with tight end Kevin Haplea for his first career touchdown, giving FSU a 20-10 lead.

At this point you could feel the game slipping away from USF.

On the next USF possession Daniels took a big hit and stumbled to the sideline to collect himself.

On the next play with backup quarterback Matt Floyd in the game, Carradine once again made his way in the backfield, this time causing a fumble that was picked up by linebacker Christian Jones, taken in the end zone for a touchdown, and sending FSU to 5-0 on the season.

This win, although not pretty, once again shows the growth and maturity of this team from seasons past, when this game could have easily ended with a different outcome.

"Wins are big when you go in to somebody else's house who has good players and coached well and you come out with a W," Fisher said. "That's a huge step coming off the big win we had last week. In the past I think we may have folded a little bit. But they kept believing and playing hard. You have to find ways to win games when you're not playing your A game, and that's what good football teams do."

Nole Digest Top Stories