Florida State football coach Mike Norvell was not ready to declare his program “returning” on Monday, a day after a surprise 24-23 victory over LSU in New Orleans that ended ends with the last game.
On the contrary, Norvell said in a phone interview with ESPN that his team would simply get “back to work”.
“This game didn’t need to be as close as it was,” Norvell said. “We made mistakes that can cost us dearly so we better learn from the experience we had last night and go and improve. If you want to show you’re back go and win every game. and get better every week and every practice. That’s what you need to do. I’m glad our guys are excited about the action we’ve taken. But if we don’t keep taking action, then nothing’s wrong. none of this will matter.
In postgame interviews, several players — including defensive end Jared Verse and wide receiver Ontario Wilson — said the win meant Florida State was back. It’s easy to see why they felt this way after an emotional victory on the wire. Florida State hasn’t started a 2-0 season since 2016. Last year, the Seminoles started 0-4, including a season-opening loss to Notre Dame.
As this season and Year 3 approached under Norvell, many questions arose as to whether the program would finally turn the page. The win over LSU certainly showed that this team knows how to win close games, even when there is adversity to overcome.
After recovering a fumbled punt from Malik Nabers with 2 minutes and 15 seconds left at the LSU 8-yard line and holding a 24-17 lead, it looked like the Seminoles would be close to wrapping up the win. But on LSU 1’s third base, Florida State called a throw back to Treshaun Ward, who fumbled. LSU recovered with 1:20 remaining.
“Looking back, it obviously wasn’t the best decision,” Norvell said Monday. “It wasn’t worth the reward for the risk.”
LSU drove 99 yards down the field to score a touchdown with no time left. Norvell acknowledged “a few mishaps” on this defensive streak. Florida State sent their field goal block team, and Norvell held up a finger, letting their team know that all they had to do was make a play.
Florida State defensive end Jared Verse blocked a field goal earlier in the game.
On the extra run attempt, LSU focused on Verse, allowing Shyheim Brown to have a clear path to block the kick – giving the Seminoles their first win over a non-conference Power 5 opponent since joining beat Florida in 2017. But even if the game was gone in overtime, Norvell said he thinks his team would have won.
“Regardless of what would have happened on that last kick, I thought we were going to be successful in this game and I thought our guys would be up to it,” Norvell said. “But we had one more game in regular time. And we made the play that was necessary to win.”
Norvell described the post-match celebration as “brilliant”. Defensive tackle Jarrett Jackson lifted Norvell into the air.
“He shook me like a rag doll,” Norvell said with a laugh. “Just to see the joy. We’ve been talking all week about that heart, and whatever it takes, let that identity come out.”
Florida State has an open date this week before starting ACC play on the road in a Friday night game against Louisville. After all the adversity this team has overcome over the past five seasons, the last thing Norvell wants is for their team to forget what got them to a point where they could win the type of game they won on Sunday.
“We’ve been talking from the start – how are you going to react to success? — because I absolutely know success is coming, and we’re realizing some of that now,” Norvell said. “But at the end of the day, we have to improve, and if we don’t, the things that we desire, the things that we have to become, to live the potential of this team and this program, we’re going to miss the opportunity.”