The hope for a breakthrough season at FSU has broken apart.
The Seminoles are back to trying to salvage what's left.
In a game they couldn't afford to lose for psychological reasons and to get position in the ACC race, the Seminoles once again lost to Clemson at Death Valley.
This time it was 35-30 and spoiled an amazing performance by FSU redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett, who filled in well for injured starter E.J. Manuel.
In losing for a sixth time at Clemson, the Seminoles watched their supposed improved defense yield 455 yards of total offense and 26 first downs. It also committed a majority of the 11 penalties for 124 yards.
"Defense is supposed to be a tremendous part of our team," said junior linebacker Vince Williams. "That's out of character to go out there and blow coverages like that. We've just got to be better, man. Our offense did what they had to do, and we've just got to start playing better team ball."
The good news for FSU is there is no game on Saturday, Oct. 1. The bye will give this team time to heal physically and emotionally for the remaining two-thirds of its schedule.
"We still have a chance to be a good football team," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We have to coach them better. We have to get them in better position. That's my job, and our kids will play hard."
From now until Oct. 8, when the Seminoles play at Wake Forest, they will take a close look at their players and decide what position or depth-chart changes need to be made and whether to go with more youth on the offensive line. The running game has been anemic, although that was not a glaring problem at Clemson.
The Seminoles' defense returned to its former problematic form.
The good news for FSU is the next five games are against Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland, N.C. State and Boston College. It sets up for the 'Noles to be 7-2 and feeling much better before facing Miami and Virginia.
"We're 2-2, and the off week probably comes at a good time for us to take a deep, hard look at ourselves and see how we can still be a great football team," Fisher said. "We have to learn to finish and stop doing the foolishness and things. It was at different spots than it was at last week. That's my job as a head coach to get that fixed. But Clemson did an excellent job."
NOTES AND QUOTES
Tricket became only the second player in at least 25 years to throw for more than 300 yards in his first start. The other was Danny Kanell, after school sports information searched through games dating back to 1985. The freshman was 24 of 38 for 336 yards and he threw for three TDs and had just one interception. ... The Seminoles unveiled their version of the "Wildcat" formation with tailback Chris Thompson. It worked well on FSU's opening series, then was ineffective after that. Thompson gained 21 yards on his first three carries in the formation. But Thompson gained only 15 yards on his next eight carries, with some of those attempts from the traditional formation in the backfield. ... Knowing the uproar with his team's inept running game, Fisher tried to defuse the situation by saying the game against Clemson simply didn't for allow many opportunities to run the ball. "Yes, there are concerns, but we were starting to mix in a little run in the second half and we didn't have the opportunity [after] the third quarter," he sa a couple nice runs."
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Rashad Greene -- What an impact he has made. The true freshman was Florida State's leading receiver with eight catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. He has been the most valuable newcomer on this team.
LOOKING GOOD: Imagine the focus that would have been on Tricket if the Seminoles had won. It would have gone down as one of the greatest first-time starts in school history. Trickett and his young receivers combined to produce 336 passing yards. Given the circumstances going into the game, the Seminoles would have been thrilled with less than half that total. Instead, it was all for nothing. But Trickett did show he can play at this level and he can be counted upon in a backup or starting role. And the Seminoles' receivers, especially the newest ones, proved their future is bright. FSU's passing attack has been the one constant all season, no matter who is in the game.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Just when you thought FSU's defense was worthy of praise, getting back to the old days, this group imploded against Clemson. From the first time on the field through the fourth quarter, the defense never got a stop when it had to have one. Instead, silly facemask penalties and assorted other miscues kept Clemson drives alive, kept the crowd aroused and kept the Seminoles from winning the game. More than anything else about Florida State, this program will not be elite again until the defense plays well every Saturday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "No excuses. We lost the game. ... And I hate losing more than I love winning." -- Florida State QB Clint Trickett