5 questions, 5 answers: FSU finishes off best year since 2016 with bowl win

No. 13 Florida State (10-3, 5-3 ACC) cleared a number of hurdles on Thursday, snapping a decades-long losing streak to the Oklahoma Sooners while also capping off the program’s best season since 2016.

FSU won double-digit games and a bowl matchup for the first time since that year, a reflection of the work that the team has put in revitalizing itself under head coach Mike Norvell.

While Florida State left Orlando with a win, it looked for a bit like the Seminoles were in danger of squandering their opportunity to earn 10 victories on the year though a late-game effort and stand gave FSU the win.

2023 will obviously see a different Seminoles team take the field, but questions still linger in the aftermath about what Florida State needs to do over the course of the next few months to set itself up for even more success in the coming year.

To help give some insight into Florida State’s win, the Tomahawk Nation staff tackled a few questions and storylines from the game.

What does earning 10 wins mean for FSU and Mike Norvell?

LastnoleofKrypton: From 5 to 10 wins is an improvement and an accomplishment that cannot be understated; FSU’s over/under was 6.5 preseason wins. No one thought this team would be this good; a testament to Mike Norvell.

NoleThruandThru: 10 wins is a very helpful selling point on the recruiting trail for the Seminoles. Perception is so important, and a double-digit win season, including a state championship, carries weight.

Evan Johnson: The coaches knew this was a big game for recruiting reasons. Also, as human beings with 10 fingers that count in a base 10 system its a good number to hit. Doubling your win count from one year to the next is nice too. I be this number plays well on the Booster tour.

Perry: Even optimistic people felt like they were going out on a limb saying 8 wins, with 9 feeling almost like an insincere prediction. Instead, Florida State went out and won 10 — you can point at the record of some of those teams as a detriment if you want, but the fact remains that outside of a three-game stretch, the Seminoles looked very much like a top 15 team and arguably a top ten. Norvell needed to prove it this year — and he more than did so, setting up a huge 2023.

Ben Meyerson: This team under Norvell has been all about momentum both positive and negative. With the current top transfer class and many important players returning again in 2023, I think this team can continue the climb (that was very intentional). They will open against LSU in Orlando at this same stadium so let’s see if they can continue this upward climb.

What was the more impressive throw for Jordan Travis — his touchdown completion to Ontario Wilson or his deep throw to Johnny Wilson?

LastNoleOfKrypton: The TD to Ontario Wilson because it was a crossbody throw.

NoleThruandThru: Yes.

Evan Johnson: The throw that McClain dropped? That was right in his bread basket with good coverage. I’m not sure what stands out most. JT made some very good passes.

Perry: The throw to Ontario, if only because Johnny’s effort on the catch was more impressive than possibly anything on the night. Johnny’s got a lot of work to do on becoming consistent with catches — his penchant for thinking about running before securing the ball popped up once more tonight — but if he figures out his fixable mistakes, he has a chance to be one of FSU’s most dominant receivers in school history.

Ben Meyerson: The touchdown to Ontario Wilson, I have seen JT sling the ball downfield and make a perfect drop-in-the-bucket throw. The touchdown was impressive and if he can do more of that next season (operating out of the pocket) this offense is limitless.

Where were the biggest areas of concern for you from the game?

LastNoleofKrypton: Depending on what Fabian Lovett decides to do after this game this defense cannot continue to be this soft up the middle without his presence. Everyone not named Fabian Lovett at DT this offseason needs to spend serious time with Coach Storms.

NoleThruandThru: Last Year of Krypton nailed it. It’s scary that one player can have so much sway on defense, especially when that player isn’t expected back. Otherwise, the drops from the WRs continue to be frustrating.

Perry: The same concerns we’ve had pretty much all year — FSU can’t get off the field on third down and it can’t convert big plays into points on offense. When it doesn’t fall victim to those trends, they dominate opponents to the point the game is over before half. They’ve managed to overcome them in a number of wins this season, but those trends continue to be an Achilles heel.

Evan Johnson: I agree with the comments on the defensive line. OU was playing a back up line and opening gaping holes but I felt FSU was missing something more. Physicality. Early on it was clear that OU came out trying to get in FSU’s heads. They were playing through the whistle and the refs weren’t calling it. OU finally, for maybe the first time this year, tackled well and FSU did not. I think the ‘Noles figured it out at some point but I would have rather seen them start the game with the attitude OU had.

Ben Meyerson: The biggest concern for me is how the Seminoles will replace Jammie Robinson, they won’t be able to do that but he was the best player on the field in Orlando. Without Jammie it will make life much harder for the rest of the defensive backs, he is so versatile and is always communicating on the field. He will be missed next season.

What does FSU need to fix heading into next year?

LastNoleOfKrypton: I still think the defense can get better in the secondary; Jammie Robinson is a big loss as evidenced by how good he was tonight.

NoleThruandThru: FSU needs a new defensive backs coach, specifically a technician whose specialty is fundamentals and development. Those boys have a lot of talent but need to be coached up in a big way.

Evan Johnson: Ditto NoleThruandThru. I’m not sure how the secondary can struggle like it has. I wish Fuller would have the DBs press but I don’t think that’s the problem. At one point Cooper gave up a first down because he got fooled on a 5 yard out with a receiver outside the hash marks on 3rd and 10 or something like that. He’s got to be smarter than that. He has to be coached better than that.

Perry: The secondary cannot continue to underperform — and the fact that most of us are mentioning it is an indication that it’s pretty clear the Seminoles need to make some changes in that department. The defensive line should get a boost with its transfer portal infusions, but if you can’t prevent big pass plays it doesn’t matter how far you push back the opponent on down and distance.

Ben Meyerson: While the defense is a concern next season, the Seminoles need to start winning games up front on the offensive and defensive line. They have been better in the trenches this season but have also kept some games too close because of their inability to control the line of scrimmage.

Cheeze-Its or Cheeze-It crackers?-Its or Cheeze-It crackers?

LastNoleOfKrypton: Cheeze-Its

NoleThruandThru: Someone deleted me from the predictions thread but I promise I had FSU winning 35-32 on a game-winning kick from my favorite player.

Evan Johnson: I shant besmertch the royal decree of Prince Cheddward. It is Cheeze-It crackers and I will meet LastNoleOfKrypton on the field of battle to prove I am right. The gauntlet is thrown.

Perry: Goldfish, if I’m being honest.

Ben Meyerson: I woke up feeling the cheesiest Coach. Cheez-It Crackers.

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