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Seminoles are still ahead of schedule, even after Wake Forest loss

Reasonable expectations for FSU were 7-5 and a top-15 recruiting class. FSU is projected to go 8-4, and its class sits at No. 16.
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis and the Seminoles are 4-1. Who would have predicted that in July?
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis and the Seminoles are 4-1. Who would have predicted that in July? [ PHIL SEARS | AP ]
Published Oct. 3|Updated Oct. 3

When Florida State coach Mike Norvell reviewed the Seminoles’ loss to Wake Forest, the prevailing feeling was disappointment.

As it should be. The Demon Deacons didn’t overpower FSU with talent, nor did they fool them schematically. In a competitive, top-25 matchup, Wake Forest simply executed better. There’s no sugarcoating a defeat that could have been one of FSU’s biggest wins in years.

Related: FSU football looks like old Seminoles in Noles’ loss to Wake Forest

It does, however, give us an opportunity to put the loss in context. As frustrating as it was, don’t lose sight of the fact that FSU is still ahead of schedule.

Remember where the ‘Noles were in the preseason. At best, they were a program riddled with question marks. At worst, they were a team led by a coach nearing the hot seat.

And then FSU started 4-0.

Florida State's win over LSU helped elevate expectations for Mike Norvell's third season.
Florida State's win over LSU helped elevate expectations for Mike Norvell's third season. [ GERALD HERBERT | AP ]

The Seminoles crushed bad teams they were supposed to crush (Duquesne, Boston College), beat a (now nationally ranked) LSU team in New Orleans and gutted out a conference road win against Louisville despite injuries to their starting quarterback, best offensive lineman and best pass rusher. That’s a good start for any program — especially one in a coach’s make-or-break third year.

Related: AP top 25: Why we kept FSU in our rankings and a new (old) team at No. 1

It also artificially raised expectations, like how the Gators started Billy Napier’s tenure with a Week 1 upset of Utah. Win one, or four, and you want more.

“We’re still growing,” Norvell said during Monday’s weekly news conference. “We’re still learning from the experience of, I want it yesterday. I want it done now.”

But big-time success doesn’t always happen immediately. Consider the stretch of three top-25 opponents FSU started last week. Dave Clawson had seven seasons with the Demon Deacons before he finished in the top 20. Dave Doeren had four seasons at North Carolina State before he finished in the top 25. Dabo Swinney’s job security was shaky after his second full season at Clemson before he got things to click.

There are exceptions, of course, like Kirby Smart taking Georgia to the national title game in his second season. But a College Football Playoff bid or a New Year’s Six bowl appearance weren’t serious expectations for FSU this season.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell is consoled by Wake Forest's Johnny Foster after the Seminoles' loss Saturday.
Florida State head coach Mike Norvell is consoled by Wake Forest's Johnny Foster after the Seminoles' loss Saturday. [ PHIL SEARS | AP ]

Rational fans would have accepted a 7-5 record and a top-15 recruiting class; ESPN’s Football Power Index project the Seminoles to finish 8-4, and their recruiting class sits 16th. Neither statistic is good enough long-term at a program that expects to compete for championships. But at this point, both would represent notable progress and inspire confidence in Norvell’s ability to turn things around.

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And optimism that more top-25 matchups are coming, perhaps with different results than the one FSU suffered last weekend.

Van Dyke still Miami’s starter

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke remains the Hurricanes' starter.
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke remains the Hurricanes' starter.

Miami coach Mario Cristobal told reporters Monday that Tyler Van Dyke remains his starting quarterback heading into Saturday’s ACC opener against North Carolina.

The Hurricanes benched Van Dyke for Jake Garcia in the shocking loss to Middle Tennessee State two weeks ago. Last season’s ACC rookie of the year has completed 70 of his 118 passes this season with four touchdowns and three interceptions. His passing efficiency (122.45) ranks 11th in the ACC.

Kickoff updates

Kickoff and TV information were announced Monday for the games on Oct. 15:

Clemson at FSU: 7:30 p.m., ABC

• LSU at Florida: 7 p.m., ESPN

• Miami at Virginia Tech: 12:30 p.m., regional coverage

• Tulane at USF: 4 p.m., ESPNU

The USF-UCF rivalry game will officially take place on Saturday, Nov. 26. It had been uncertain whether the War on I-4 would be on Saturday or Black Friday.

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