At some point, there will be a referendum on the state of Florida State’s defense. For the moment, though, all that matters is The Kick.
Down by 21 points in the first half, and by 14 entering the fourth quarter, FSU managed to put 21 points on the scoreboard in the final period to stake the Seminoles to a 35-34 lead, including Deondre Francois two-yard touchdown run with just :23 remaining. Thanks in part to a defensive pass interference penalty on the ensuing drive, the Tar Heels moved to what appeared to be the fringe of field-goal range at the Seminole 37-yard line; as time expired, Nick Weiler, whose blocked extra point in the fourth quarter seemingly loomed large in the game, said “fringe this” as he easily cleared the crossbar from 54 yards out as time expired to give UNC a stunning 37-35 win.
The loss in Tallahassee ended the Seminoles’ home winning streak at 22 in a row, which had been the longest such streak in the nation.
The story of this game was offense — or lack of defense — as UNC, in putting up 538 yards of offense, punted just one time in the game, and that didn’t come until three minutes were gone in the fourth quarter. One other possession ended in a missed field goal and another on a missed field goal as the FSU defense simply had no answer for quarterback Mitch Trubisky (405 yards passing, four touchdowns) or wide receiver Ryan Switzer (14-158). UNC’s defense didn’t have much of an answer for the opposition’s offense, either, as the Seminoles rolled to 595 yards.
The game served as the second ACC loss in as many contests for the Seminoles. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 in conference play.
On the whole, though, this game was simply about the continuation of a disturbing defensive trend for FSU.
Through one-third of the season, the Seminoles are allowing an average of 44.7 points per game to its three Power Five opponents. Even when you factor in the Week 2 game against FCS Charleston Southern, they came into this game ranked 107th in the country in scoring defense (34.7 ppg). In those three FBS games, two of them losses, they have allowed an average of 482.7 yards per game.
Injuries have certainly played a role on that side of the ball, but miscommunications and blown assignments and missed tackles have loomed much, much larger.
The loss drops the Seminoles to 3-2 on the season. It’s FSU’s worst start to a year since 2011, when Jimbo Fisher‘s second Seminoles team went 2-3 the first five games of the season. That team would go on to win seven of its last eight, setting the stage for four straight seasons of double-digit wins.
This latest result also sets up an interesting dynamic heading into Week 6. With Miami sitting at 4-0, next Saturday’s game will mark the first time since 2002 that the Hurricanes have come into the in-state rivalry game with a better record than the Seminoles.
Times, they are a changin’? Quite possibly.