Florida State suffered its first loss to an FCS opponent in program history on Saturday after Jacksonville State completed a last-second Hail Mary to beat the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium, 20-17.
It was the second straight walk-off loss for coach Mike Norvell, a week after icing his own kicker in an overtime loss to No. 9 Notre Dame. Saturday’s loss undoubtedly hurt more, however, considering the disparity in talent between the programs and the fact the Gamecocks scored two touchdowns in the final 4:45 to complete the come-from-behind victory.
To make matters worse, it appears Florida State ran the entirely wrong defense to prevent the score, keeping two high safeties while attempting to rush Zerrick Cooper. The Seminoles failed to adequately pressure the Gamecocks quarterback, allowing him to throw the 59-yard touchdown to Damond Philyaw-Johnson. You only need to listen to Florida State radio color commentator William Floyd — who appears to throw his headset in frustration — to see how poorly the defense was designed for the situation.
As for why Norvell didn’t go with a prevent defense? Here’s his explanation:
#FSU HC Mike Norvell on final play of game: “Ran a two deep man under, tried to get pressure on the quarterback. They still had one time out, so we didn’t go to immediate prevent.”
— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) September 12, 2021
The problem with Norvell’s assessment of the play was that Jacksonville State had only 6 seconds to traverse the final 59 yards to the end zone. While it’s possible the Gamecocks could have tried to get a little closer before attempting a Hail Mary, it was more likely they would just attempt the game-ending play. Which, they did.
Norvell made no excuses for the loss, saying, “I apologize to our fan base, to the university, to all Seminoles. … This team has talent, they have heart, but we have to go execute.”
That’s also true of Norvell, considering he directly and adversely affected the outcome of consecutive games with his decisions.