When Louisiana-Monroe's overtime extra point hooked wide to the right to secure Florida State's 45-44 victory on Saturday, some players ran out and celebrated. Others didn’t seem that enthused.
“By no means were we happy with the way we played,” Florida State coach Willie Taggart said. “I think you saw some of those (mixed) emotions because guys know we can play better and know we have to play better.”
Florida State will certainly have to clean things up before leaving to face No. 25 Virginia (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Saturday. Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins leads the ACC’s No. 1 scoring offense (averaging 41 points per game).
Through two games, Perkins has completed 36 of 60 attempts for 373 passing yards, four touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. That’s well in line with last season when he finished completing 225 of 349 passes for 2,680 yards, 25 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
Both of Perkins’ interceptions this season were thrown last week against William and Mary, but Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said he doesn’t expect that trend to continue.
“Both settings were pretty consistent scrambling and forcing throws and trying to do more than what the play allowed,” Mendenhall said.
But Perkins actually scrambles a good bit. He leads his team with 112 rushing yards on 25 attempts for an average of 4.5 yards per carry this year. Last season, he finished with 923 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 212 attempts.
“It's part of our design for him regardless of opponent, and we think that it's essential that he does run,” Mendenhall said. “Not only in designed runs, but creative and scramble runs, to have us be successful as a team.”
Mendenhall said he isn’t going to tell Perkins to limit his exposure by running less. He wants his quarterback confident in his ability to improvise.
Even though running quarterbacks are commonplace in today’s game, they are still often nightmares for opposing defenses. It's a fact Mendenhall is well aware of.
“I would say in comparison, the best one -- I think Lamar Jackson, when he was at Louisville, man, there were times he was getting sacked so much, but then he would pull it down and run and score on a 50-yard play,” he said. “Just very difficult to scheme, to manage, and to stop.”
That will be the task awaiting a Florida State defense that is giving up more yards per game (520) than all but six teams in the country, but this won’t be the first mobile quarterback the Seminoles have faced this season.
Louisiana Monroe quarterback Caleb Evans was one of three players in the country (along with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Houston’s D’Eriq King) to finish with multiple games passing for at least 290 yards while rushing for 100 last season.
Before facing Florida State, Evans was averaging 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. On Saturday he averaged 3.2 yards per rush, as he carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards and one touchdown.
Most of his damage came through the air where he completed 23 of 38 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. His mobility also helped him avoid taking more than one sack.
Maybe those experiences will help the Seminoles have more success this week against Perkins?
“I guess it helped a little bit,” Florida State coach Willie Taggart said. “He didn't run as much as he could have probably. I think, again, what's going to help the issues is being fundamentally sound and doing our jobs and making sure that we have a really solid game plan and stop them.”