During the three-game stretch, FSU has racked up over 1,600 yards of offense and reached the end zone 15 times.
Now the question becomes can the Seminoles find a way to take that show on the road and beat a team as if they are playing in the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium.
“Coach Fisher hit on that in the locker room,” safety Lamarcus Joyner said following the win over Duke. “You want to be as dominant away as you are at home, and that’s our next challenge – going and taking someone else’s field like we take Doak.”
Despite having a 2-1 record on the road this season, it’s the way the games have gone that leave reason for concern. FSU has gotten off to a slow start offensively in each game and as a result let their opponent hang around for much of the game. A big part of that trend is due to a combination of slow starts on offense coupled with a much less efficient quarterback in E.J. Manuel.
Breaking down some numbers
FSU has dominated opponents at home by an average score of 50-12, and that doesn’t include the first two games of the season where FSU scored an additional 124 points. If you include those, it’s 54-3.
But in the Seminoles three road games this year that’s not the case. FSU has outscored opponents by an average margin of 26-18 and have had their three worst offensive performances - in terms of yards generated.
It’s the first half of a game where FSU seems to strive and really put the opposition in a deep hole to dig it’s self out of against the nation’s top-ranked defense. This season FSU average’s 32 points scored in the first half when playing at home. But, on the road the story is quite different where the ‘Noles average just 14 points in the first half.
If you break it down by quarters when FSU is on the road, most of the struggles come in the first quarter where they average just four points and have one touchdown to show for themselves all season.
The large contributing factor to these numbers has to be the play of Manuel who is just a different quarterback on the road. His decision-making isn’t quite as sharp and he puts a lot more pressure on himself for whatever reason.
Of Manuel’s 16 touchdowns this season, just two of them have come on the road. Touchdowns thrown is one of five factors included into calculating a quarterback’s passer rating, or passing efficiency. Manuel’s numbers on the season in this statistic are superb – Manuel is 2nd in the nation behind only Kansas State’s Collin Klein. Manuel has an average passer rating of 174.03 on the season, but when you break that rating down into home and away games, there’s a significant change.
When playing at home Manuel is clearly in his comfort zone where he enjoys an average passer rating of 201. To give you an idea of how ludicrous that number is – Robert Griffin III set a new NCAA record last year with a passer rating of 192. But, when you look at Manuel’s passer rating on the road it takes a dip down to 139.
With the clinician that head coach Jimbo Fisher is, you can be sure Manuel is aware of these numbers and is doing everything he can to fix it. Manuel says the key on Thursday will be to get that spark early on.
“What we've done at home is have quick starts to give us a spark," said Manuel. "If we can get that going in Blacksburg, that'd be huge for us. But if we don't, when we get opportunities to score the ball, we need to do that. Big touchdowns early in a game really spark you and set the tone for the rest of the game."