October 14, 2012

Florida State, fans can begin to heal after Saturday rout

It's hard to succinctly title Florida State's trouncing of Boston College Saturday night. Other than reciting the lopsided score, 51-7, what kind of win was it for the Seminoles?

Was it a win which healed the salted wounds of Carter-Finley a week ago? Well, partially.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the reason that devastating loss to N.C. State lingered this week (besides being indefensible) was that nobody felt inspired by the challenge of this Eagles team. Not the players. Not the coaches. Not interested observers.

This week of preparation mirrored that of many of ACC game-weeks: it required self-motivation and a mean streak.

The good news for the 'Noles is that's precisely what the coaches and players brought to the table.

After the first drive of the game - a Boston College series that made its way to first-and-goal at the Seminole one-yard line - ended with a fourth-down stop, Florida State was halfway to shaking off some jitters. Three plays later, a Lonnie Pryor fumble found its way into the hands of an alert EJ Manuel who converted a bizarre first down.

From there, the Seminoles molded the game according to design.

Powered by a sustained implementation of the vertical passing game, Florida State completed two touchdown drives of over 80 yards (one of 99) for a death grip on the momentum. By the end of the night, Manuel shattered a career high with 439 yards passing and the offense went for 649 total yards.

The defense surrendered 68 yards on the Eagles' first drive, then just 157 the rest of the night. Kicker Dustin Hopkins made all three of his field goal attempts including one from, yes, 51 yards.

And despite blemishes like nine penalties for 96 yards and two turnovers, Florida State looked loose and aggressive throughout. Throw all the stats away, the team appeared to be in a good place between the ears.

That was the main question heading into life after N.C. State: how do they react? After one week, the answer is healthily.

Now does beating Boston College, the team that couldn't beat Army at home, bring about a weepy forgiving embrace between fans and program? It's not that easy.

From the public's perspective, there's no parade for teams doing what they should. From the fans' perspective, there's more to be done, more shaken trust to repair.

And from Florida State's perspective, this type of game was a no-win scenario in the scope of perception. Trounce the Eagles and ho-hum, that's supposed to happen. Struggle, and watch the innumerable red flags flap in the breeze.

Did the team show resiliency, maturity and aptitude? Yes, yes and yes.

Is Boston College 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the ACC and winless against FBS opponents? Yes, yes and yes.

Let's be honest. The most important function of the game was that it occurred. It brought about new final score, a new set of stats to help a stunned fan base get over the numbers 17 and 16.

The talking point this week was that there was still a lot of football left. The team's goals were still intact. That message rang hollow until Saturday's win. Now that a positive outcome smells freshest and a rival waits on deck, the healing for both program and fans can begin.

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