CLEMSON, S.C. – Ready as they were to move on from everything that happened at Clemson on Saturday night, the Seminoles were also well aware that they couldn’t simply forget their 45-14 defeat without first learning from it.
Yes, it was an afternoon full of frustration for Florida State. But the No. 2 Tigers are likely the best team that FSU will face this season, and if the deficiencies and shortcomings that came to light in Memorial Stadium can be corrected or improved upon as a result, then that frustration won’t have been for nothing.
Making the most of their experience in Death Valley was tops on the Seminoles’ priority list as they returned to the practice fields on Sunday.
“We feel like we can bounce back,” running back Khalan Laborn said. “One hundred percent, we can.”
If Laborn is right, then the Seminoles (3-3, 2-2 ACC) have an opportunity for a potentially memorable second half of the season.
Their next game, at Wake Forest, will be a challenge. But the Demon Deacons (5-1, 2-1), who entered last week ranked No. 19, surrendered 62 points in a loss to Louisville on Saturday night and flirted with a loss to Boston College a week ago.
Beyond that, the Seminoles have home games against Syracuse (3-3, with zero wins over “Power Five” opponents) and Miami (3-3, one win over Power Five), a road trip to Boston College (3-3, two) and then a home date with FCS Alabama State.
FSU should be competitive in each of those games, and will likely be a heavy favorite in a few of them.
Winning the ACC Atlantic Division is probably off the table after Saturday’s result (Clemson essentially has a three-game lead thanks to its head-to-head tiebreaker), but the Seminoles are still well within range of improving on last season’s win total and returning to the postseason.
“There’s a lot of football left,” defensive end Janarius Robinson said. “Everything we want is still a possibility. It’s still in front of us. So we’ve just got to come back and keep working.”
Doing that would be a sign of progress in and of itself.
After last year’s loss to Clemson, Taggart said he saw signs of quitting within his team, and the Seminoles responded to that defeat by losing three of their remaining four games.
But neither Taggart nor his players saw anyone quit this time around. Which is one of the reasons why the Seminoles’ locker room seemed confident that they would glean everything they could from this one, then move on in appropriate fashion.
“I love the way they fought through the game,” Taggart said. “We can’t let this one game cause us to lose two games. We’ve got to get back to work. And I know they will. I know they’ll fight back and get back next week
“I think they’re mentally mature enough to get past it. And they will. We have to.”
Laborn finds paydirt for first time: Khalan Laborn didn’t need any extra motivation on at Clemson, but he got some anyway.
His grandmother lives in Shelby, N.C., near the South Carolina-North Carolina border, and, before Saturday, had yet to attend one of her grandson’s games with FSU.
That changed when she made the 100-mile trip to Clemson, and Laborn rewarded her journey with an eight-carry, 69-yard performance highlighted by his first career touchdown.
“She finally made it,” Laborn said. “I think it was her first game ever, coming to see me play. I got really emotional about it.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Laborn took a shotgun handoff, found a wide lane up the middle then cut toward the left sideline on his way to a 40-yard touchdown that wrapped the day’s scoring.
The touchdown didn’t impact the game’s outcome, but, for Laborn – who has worked his way back from a devastating knee injury a year ago – it was still something to smile about.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “That was my first time ever here at Florida State. So I thought that was a big milestone for me.”
Robinson makes most of shortened action: During Saturday’s first half, defensive end Janarius Robinson had perhaps the most unique and challenging perspective of anyone inside Memorial Stadium.
Serving a first-half suspension for a second-half targeting penalty against North Carolina State on Sept. 21, Robinson spent the first and second quarters inside the Seminoles’ locker room streaming the game’s TV broadcast on a mobile tablet.
But, as anyone who has watched sports on a streaming service can attest, the live video often lags far behind the action. And even more so when trying to get a solid internet connection in a stadium full of 80,000 people.
“There wasn’t a TV in the locker room so I had to stream it from ESPN,” Robinson said. “It was very delayed. It was kind of hard because I was getting stuff late. Then I’m hearing (the crowd noise).”
By the time Robinson entered the game, at the start of the third quarter, the Seminoles’ chances of an upset were all but finished.
But that didn’t stop the redshirt junior from making an impact. He finished with six tackles – just two behind the team lead – as well as each of FSU’s four tackles for loss and a forced fumble that was recovered by teammate Dennis Briggs Jr.