Jimbo Fisher and the 'Noles look to carry their win streak into November
After a disappointing 2-3 start to a season filled with hope and expectations, the Florida State Seminoles have run off three consecutive victories in impressive fashion.
Although they beat Duke, Maryland and N.C. State by a combined score of 116-32, it is worth noting that those teams combined record is 9-15.
Still, the wins have been satisfying to FSU fans because they have improved in every facet that haunted them in their three game losing streak.
They have been successful at cutting down on their own errors, while coercing their opponents into mistakes as a result of the increased pressure they are applying in all three phases of the game.
The offense has been efficient, balanced and machine-like.
The defense has been opportunistic, suffocating and downright dominant.
The special teams play has been solid, with the ‘Noles consistently winning the field position battle.
Frankly, this looks like the team many envisioned it becoming at the beginning of the season.
Here are five reasons that FSU has gotten back on track.
Lamarcus Joyner and the 'Noles defense has developed into one of the nation's best units
The Seminoles defense has not allowed a first-half touchdown during this three-game winning streak.
The defensive line has been dominant, harassing opposing quarterbacks and stuffing the run with constant pressure and penetration.
Through eight games, the ‘Noles defenses is among the nation’s elite in total defense and sacks.
FSU only allows 275.6 yards per game (fifth best in the country) and have recorded 29 sacks this season (fourth most in the country).
Although the unit had issues forcing turnovers, they are coming off a season-best performance against N.C. State where they forced three Wolfpack miscues.
Greg Reid and the 'Noles have cut their penalties in half in their last three wins
An argument could be made that Florida State contributed heavily to its own demise in their three losses.
They coughed up nine turnovers and averaged 10 penalties for 97 yards in those defeats.
Conversely, in the last three weeks, they have turned it over only twice and cut the penalties almost in half.
The discipline they have shown in eliminating their errors has contributed greatly to their recent turnaround.
FSU RB Jermaine Thomas has finally found some running room thanks to his OL play recently
Despite losing senior starters David Spurlock and Andrew Datko, their replacements have managed to help the Seminoles find a running game.
The ‘Noles offensive attack has found its groove, with their ability to keep defenses off balance with the running game (nine rushing touchdowns and 195 yards per game average in last three games).
Even though scoring points was not the problem in their losses, it is no coincidence that the offense looks a lot smoother in their recent win streak.
The biggest reason for that is continuity up front, and the physicality their new starters have brought to their offensive line group.
The return of WR Bert Reed has given FSU's depleted receiving unit a boost
The Seminoles offense had six starters miss all or significant portions of games due to injury in September.
On defense, corner Greg Reid, safety Nick Moody and defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel all missed games with various ailments.
While the ‘Noles still have lost significant contributors for the season, the return of wide receiver Bert Reed and quarterback E.J. Manuel has been a steadying force for the offense while Reid and Moody have helped fortify a secondary that struggled earlier in the season.
QB EJ Manuel has played lights out since his return from a shoulder injury
The biggest difference in Florida State has been the play of junior quarterback EJ Manuel.
With no disrespect intended to backup Clint Trickett, the return of Manuel from a shoulder injury that sidelined him last month has given the offense the shot in the arm it desperately needed.
The element of a mobile quarterback has always been a staple of coach Jimbo Fisher’s offenses, dating back to his days as an offensive coordinator at LSU.
With Manuel back, defenses have struggled slowing down FSU’s high-powered attack.
Manuel has performed almost flawlessly over the last three weeks. More importantly, his leadership has helped get the ‘Noles back on track.