Just ask senior Robert Morgan.
"Dang, it felt great," said a grinning Morgan, whose 14-yard score in the second quarter against Duke last Saturday was his first touchdown since Oct. 14, 2000, against those same Blue Devils.
Morgan's score came on a quick slant, punctuated by a dive and roll into the end zone. Morgan immediately jumped to his feet, unbuttoned his chin strap and stared up towards the cheering FSU students in the north end zone.
"It has been a long time since I've been in the end zone," Morgan said. "I think the Duke game set the tone for the rest of the season. We have to be in tiptop shape. We have to cut out the mistakes, cut out the penalties. We are on the right track."
Morgan, of course, missed last season following reconstructive knee surgery and is trying to make up for lost time.
Morgan, his fellow receivers and the quarterbacks looked as sharp as they have this year in the Seminoles' 48-17 win over Duke. Quarterback Chris Rix looked comfortable and confident in the pocket, throwing for 244 yards He has thrown a touchdown pass in 14 of his 15 career games and over 200 yards in 11 of his last 12 games. Additionally, seven receivers caught two passes apiece against the Blue Devils.
Even so, the Seminoles' next stretch of games will help define their season. FSU's first four opponents have compiled a meager 9-8 record. Only 19th-ranked Iowa State owns a winning record. The Seminoles' next four opponents, beginning Thursday at Louisville (2-2), are a combined 13-3. Two of those teams -- No. 1 Miami and No. 10 Notre Dame -- are undefeated.
After a sluggish start this year, FSU's passing game is expected to play key role in the Seminoles' quest to remain among the nation's elite. Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden continues to challenge his unit to provide more big plays from its passing game.
"(The) receivers were running great routes (Saturday)," Rix said. "We were getting the looks we wanted and we exploited that. It felt good to really get the passing game really clicking. Hopefully, we can keep this passing game going and build on it."
Morgan, Anquan Boldin and Talman Gardner are expected to take lead roles in the Seminoles' aerial show. The trio each registered touchdown passes for the first time in the same game this season. Boldin is the team's leading receiver and Gardner is getting more involved after opening the season with just one reception in the Seminoles' first two games.
"Executing, making the big plays - that's the secret," Morgan said. "Everyone on the team is capable of making big plays, it's just executing. It's us catching the football. The quarterbacks making the throws. Running backs making their right reads. The little things. I think we are getting that all ironed out. But we still have a long season to go."
Added Gardner: "I feel we still have a lot of work to do. It (Duke) was our best game so far as a whole, but we still have a lot of work to do. We are going to face better secondaries. The thing about Saturday was it was good for those young guys to step up. They work just as hard as we do in practice. That was a good sign to see there wasn't a dropoff."
P.K. Sam recorded a career-high seven catches for a career-high 96 yards and a touchdown, while Craphonso Thorpe added his first scoring reception of the season.
"A lot of people were saying the (receivers) were the weakest link in our offense, so coach Jeff (Bowden) told us he was going to give us a chance to show what we can do, and I think we did a pretty good job of showing it," Sam said. "It's all about confidence. I think it was good to play a team like Duke, somebody to get us going and hopefully we can take this confidence into the rest of the season."
Thorpe, who continues to be hampered by a toe sprain, agreed, adding that Seminole improvements also are being made in practice. "Like coach says, you will see we weren't making too many big plays in practice," Thorpe said. "Now, all of a sudden, we start making big plays in practice and then you see them in the games. It's true what coach says. If you don't do it on the practice field, then you won't do it during a game."
Morgan has certainly carried that approach into game day. FSU's passing attack is expected to be tested by a veteran Louisville defense, which ranks 14th nationally (264.3 yards per game).
"We've been getting better, but we have to keep improving," said Morgan, part of an offense that as totaled 400 or more yards in 11 of its last 12 games. "We are in Louisville's house Thursday. And that's not going to be easy."