Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph came in to the season with extremely high expectations after his excellent freshman season. Unfortunately Rudolph had minimal success for the first seven games this season. Rudolph was expected to be the most productive wide receiver on the Seminoles roster this season, but coming into the Syracuse game he was third on the team in receiving yards.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher didn't exacly challenge Rudolph this week, but made it clear that he needed Rudolph to step up.
"It's not challenging," Fisher said. "You know, you got to be honest. Everybody calls it challenging. I call it honesty. People who care about you, they love you, tell you the truth. People that tell you what you want to hear, they don't care about you. When you do well, they need to tell you. When you do poorly, they need to tell you. Not to be personal."
Rudolph clearly took that to heart this week and made his impact felt early and often. On the Seminoles second drive Rudolph ran a post route and quarterback Sean Maguire found him. Rudolph made a great catch in traffic and proceeded to make at least three Syracuse defenders miss, in addition to a highlight reel stiff arm, on the way to the endzone.
Coach Fisher said that was exactly what you want to see from a guy who needs to be a spark on this team.
"It's about energy," Fisher said. "It's about passion. That's why I think some of our young guys, I said before, we walk on egg shells a little bit because they're such good kids. Sometimes I want them to be a little bit more knuckleheaded and give me some juice and then come out of it. They don't want to make a mistake. That's kind of what we got into last week out there. Guys not wanting to or have toughness, but that spark, nastiness, I'm going to go make a play, change the game, you know what I'm saying, instead of waiting for somebody else to do it."
Rudolph agreed with coach Fisher and thought that play really set the tone for the rest of the game.
"Definitely," Rudolph said. "Every game I’m excited and I just felt like today was going to be a big game. I felt like that set the tone right there. We just went out there and played comfortable.”
Maguire and Rudolph would connect twice more for touchdowns throughout the game, and when the smoke cleared Rudolph had a career high 191 yards and 3 touchdowns. Coach Fisher was more than pleased with the way Rudolph played, and thought that he gave them more chances to make plays than the Seminoles were able to take advantage of.
"I was very happy for him," Fisher said. "Travis is a heck of a football player. Going to be a great player. We could hit him a couple more times maybe and had some more. But Travis catching the ball, made big plays in big moments. That catch was a really nice catch in the corner down in the end zone. The third one I thought was good. The two deep balls. The first one, the effort to get in the end zone, the desire to get in there. That's what he's capable of all time when he has focus, plays with a lot of fire and passion and attention to detail. Very happy for him."
The Seminoles will need him to keep that type of mentality going forward for the rest of the season. The Seminoles travel to Clemson next weekend and a big performance by Rudolph would go a long way to getting Florida State a win.