Defense Gets the Job Done
"The way they played starting out is a credit to their offensive coordinator," FSU linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "They game in with an excellent game plan and had us guessing."
Reyes, fresh off a 237-yard rushing performance in a comeback win against Rutgers, was limited to 27 yards on 14 carries.
For the first half, it didn't matter. Syracuse was undaunted, finding countless other able shoulders to tote the offensive burden. The mere threat of Reyes' running talents opened up play-action and misdirection opportunities for the normally option-oriented team.
Exhibit 1: On the second play from scrimmage, receiver Lendel Bembo raced 32 yards on a reverse set up by a fake to Reyes.
Exhibit 2: An option fake gave the Orange their only touchdown. As FSU defenders closed in on a perceived option left, Jared Jones escaped downfield uncovered. Perry Patterson stepped back and delivered a perfect pass for a 4-yard score.
"We were thrown off and we helped them with a lot of mistake and missed assignments," Nicholson said. "But we came out with a different frame of mind in the second half."
After giving up 205 yards in the first half, FSU yielded just 60 in the second. Their fifth-ranked run defense was up to the challenge, holding the Orange to 58 yards on the ground for the game.
"We bowed up and played Florida State football after the rough start," defensive tackle Travis Johnson said.
Syracuse's Patterson finished the game with a respectable performance, completing 19-of-28 passes for 207 yards.
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