5 questions on the Noles as they guard against complacency
Human nature is to exhale.
That pearl of wisdom was spoken this week by Florida State Seminoles coach Mike Norvell, who doesn’t want his team to take a breath.
Not until the season is over.
On Saturday night, the Seminoles (3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) are 16-point favorites against the visiting Boston College Eagles (1-2, 0-1).
It would be easy for the Noles to “exhale” and look past the Eagles.
But the Noles don’t want to ruin all the good things happening in Tallahassee right now.
For example, a victory Saturday would make the Seminoles 4-0 for the 1st time since 2015. Last week, FSU beat host Louisville to snap a 6-year skid during which the Seminoles lost their ACC opener.
But, good vibes aside, there still are questions regarding the Noles and their next game against BC.
Here are 5 of them:
1. Will quarterback Jordan Travis return from injury this week?
Jordan Travis, who hurt his left leg during the 2nd quarter against Louisville and did not return, has not officially been ruled out for the BC game.
So, you say there’s a chance …
Despite that bit of optimism, it’s more likely that backup Tate Rodemaker will get the start Saturday. But …
“As the week progresses,” Norvell said, “if Jordan is prepared to play, he’s going to play.”
2: Is Rodemaker ready to start?
Rodemaker, who started slowly against Louisville, led the Noles to 3 touchdown drives during the 2nd half – each of them 75-yard marches.
“The way he got thrown into the game, I knew it was going to take a little second to get everything down,” FSU wide receiver Malik McClain said of Rodemaker. “Tate knows we all love him.
“Personally, I will always believe in Tate. He threw me my 1st touchdown pass” as a collegian last year.
Rodemaker, a 2nd-year player from Georgia, finished 6-for-10 for 109 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.
“Tate is continuing to push himself,” Norvell said. “That’s why he was able to bounce back from some tough early plays. He trusted his training.”
3: Which position has been the most pleasant surprise at FSU this year?
The answer might be wide receiver, where the Noles have impressive depth.
Johnny Wilson leads the unit in catches (11), yards (260) and average per reception (23.6).
Ontaria Wilson – no relation – is 2nd in catches (9) and yards (140).
Johnny and Ontaria are tied for the team lead in touchdown catches (2).
“It’s crazy how many weapons we have in our receiver room,” McClain said. “I like any of the guys in our room to have a breakout game.”
McClain said FSU’s receivers can block, too, noting that Johnny Wilson probably is the best of the bunch in that regard.
4. What type of challenge does Boston College present at quarterback?
Phil Jurkovec, who is in his 3rd year as the Eagles’ starting QB, is a classic drop-back passer at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds.
Noles linebacker Kalen DeLoach was asked about the different assignment from last week, when FSU faced Louisville’s dual-threat QB Malik Cunningham.
“(Jurkovec) does have the ability to run, but it won’t be as often (as Cunningham),” DeLoach said. “It does take a little off your shoulders knowing that you don’t have to chase down a quarterback.”
Jurkovec is a career 59.7% passer, including 59.4% this year.
Since becoming a starter in 2020, Jurkovec – a former Notre Dame backup – has tossed 30 touchdown passes in 19 games. He has been intercepted 12 times.
Held to just 6 games last year because of a wrist injury, Jurkovec appears to be healthy in 2022.
5. Who are other Eagles to watch?
Wide receiver Zay Flowers surely is at the top of FSU’s scouting report.
Flowers leads the ACC in catches (22), yards (285) and yards per game (95.0). This is his 4th year at BC, and he already has 144 catches for 2,264 yards and 20 TDs. He also has rushed for 2 scores.
Matt Miller of ESPN reported that an unnamed scout said Flowers is the best deep threat in college football. Against Rutgers this year, Flowers – small and speedy at 5-10 and 170 pounds – caught 10 passes for 117 yards and 2 TDs in a 22-21 loss.
Another Eagles player to watch is safety Jaiden Woodbey, a Florida State transfer. Woodbey ranks 4th on the BC defense in tackles (18).
Finally, it will be interesting to see how FSU fares against BC running back Patrick Garwo, who rushed for 1,045 yards, 7 TDs and a 5.1 average during his breakout 2021 season.
This year, Garwo has been held to 118 yards and a 2.9 average.
If the Noles can shut him down, they can double-team Flowers and come after Jurkovec in the pocket.