TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State entered this season hoping for a fresh start after last year's disappointing five-win campaign. The Seminoles, however, fell apart in the second half of their opener, losing to Boise State at home 36-31, but they have another chance to get on track when Louisiana-Monroe visits Saturday.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: Florida State -21
"There's some positive things in this game that we can build off of," Florida State head coach Willie Taggart told reporters after the Boise State loss. "We're going to have to." The biggest positive was the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback James Blackman and the offense as they scored three touchdowns in the first quarter after producing just six all of 2018 and they struck quickly for touchdowns of 38, 75 and 58 yards en route to a 31-19 advantage at the break. But then the wheels came off and that same offense punted or turned the ball over on each of nine second-half drives and the defense gave up yards in chunks to an offense directed by a true freshman quarterback -- 621 total yards for the game -- as they were outscored 17-0 after intermission. ULM also scored 31 points in its opener but in a winning cause as its offense never punted and the defense shut out Grambling in the second half of a 31-9 triumph.
ABOUT ULM (1-0)
The Warhawks outgained Grambling 501-407 thanks to a running game that accounted for 315 yards and three scores, their highest single-game rushing total since rolling up 307 yards at South Alabama in 2017. Junior Josh Johnson spearheaded the attack, taking his very first carry of the season 51 yards for a touchdown and later scoring on a 37-yard dash to finish with 173 yards on just 10 carries, far eclipsing his total from last season (69 yards, TD). The defense showed huge improvement a year ago and continued to make strides in the opener, coming up with two clutch fourth-down stops in the second half as Grambling was held to just nine points, the fewest allowed in the four seasons under head coach Matt Viator.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (0-1)
Blackman got off to a hot start against Boise State, completing 14 of his first 17 passes and finishing 23-of-33 for 327 yards and three touchdowns, but the Seminoles' new fast-paced, no-huddle offense left the defense without a chance to rest and may have contributed to the second-half woes. Boise State wound up with more than double the time of possession (40:03-19:57) and the Broncos ran 108 plays compared to 62 for the Seminoles. Still, Taggart pointed to the lack of success on third down on both sides of the ball -- 1-of-12 on offense, 10-of-19 on defense -- as the reason for the breakdown as he said, "We've got to convert on those third downs, but, defensively, we've got to get off the field. We can't give up 10 third downs, period. ... And that's how we get more time of possession."
1. The Seminoles are 2-0 against ULM, winning the last encounter 42-10 in 2017.
2. Florida State RB Cam Akers ran for 116 yards last week to reach the century mark for the sixth time in his career and one of those efforts came in the last meeting with ULM (117 yards, TD).
3. The Seminoles needed just 3:25 of game time to score three touchdowns against Boise State.
PREDICTION: Florida State 44, ULM 20