Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State held its 2017 Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, giving football fans a preview of what they can expect to see in the upcoming season. The game, which showcased a variety of new Nole faces in the form of prized recruits, was a defensive battle for the majority of the four quarters, ending with a 17-7 victory for the Gold.
The Gold team, headlined by returning redshirt sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois, struck first with eight minutes to go in the second quarter, as junior running back Jacques Patrick powered across the goal line for a two-yard score. Ricky Aguayo converted on the extra point to make the game 7-0.
The Garnet squad was led by junior safety Derwin James, who returned to action for the first time since his season-ending injury in week two of last year. He looked as good as ever, surveying the field and providing an overall confidence boost to a defense that will look to him for leadership next year. He led all players with seven total tackles and added two sacks.
“He’s better than he ever was,” Francois said about James after the game. “He’s the quarterback of the defense,” he added.
With 7:12 left in the game, Aguayo nailed a 51-yard field goal to give the Gold team a 10-0 lead. After a kickoff that resulted in poor field position, Deondre Francois threw a pick-six with 2:50 left in the game. Sophomore Kyle Meyers returned the interception 38 yards to get the Garnet team on the board, 10-7.
Realizing an opportunity to mimic a real fourth quarter scenario with time running out, Jimbo Fisher set up a goal line offense with the Gold squad. After the first two attempts went empty-handed, Francois found redshirt junior tight end Ryan Izzo for the game’s final score. Ricky Aguayo converted on the extra point to seal the game, 17-7.
“I liked the scrimmage today, from the standpoint that it was very physical. Guys tackled well, played well, especially for so many guys being out. I was anxious to see how they would handle situations,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game.
Among those out were junior cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, who was tied for the most interceptions in the country last year (8). McFadden had shoulder surgery in the offseason, which will keep him out for the rest of spring. Junior defensive end Josh Sweat also missed the game with a knee injury that has kept him out of the second half of spring practice.
The Noles had their fair share of miscues throughout the afternoon, but that can be expected from a spring scrimmage. For many players, especially the younger ones, Saturday was their first organized game in months. As long as players continue to grow and stay committed in practice, the Noles return a squad that worries any opposing team. Top notch recruiting combined with offseason development is a recipe that has worked for Jimbo Fisher before, so patience will be key for Florida State’s success.
Its first test of the next campaign comes against Alabama, a national powerhouse in its own right. The game will be held in Atlanta on Saturday, September 2.