Noles vow to learn, then look toward Wake
By Tim Linafelt
CLEMSON, S.C. – Ready as they were to move on from everything that happened at Clemson last 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 last 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 last 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 last 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, coach Willie 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 last 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.”