UMass football traveling to face a Florida State team rounding into form

  • Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) plays during the second half against Notre Dame in Tallahassee, Fla. Sept. 5. AP FILE

  • Florida State defensive back Jarrian Jones (7) intercepts a pass while North Carolina wide receiver Khafre Brown (1) reaches for the ball in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 9. AP FILE

  • Florida State running back Jashaun Corbin (0) runs the ball while North Carolina defensive back Kyler McMichael (1) looks for the tackle in Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 9. AP FILE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/22/2021 4:26:33 PM

AMHERST — Florida State figured it out.

The Seminoles lost their first four games of the season – including one against FCS opponent Jacksonville State – before winning their last two contests. UMass will travel to Tallahassee on Saturday for a noon kickoff, looking for a second straight win after beating UConn two weeks ago. The program hasn’t won two straight since Nov. 3, 2018. Florida State (2-4) hasn’t won three games in a row since it ended the 2017 season with four consecutive victories.

Both teams had a bye last week ahead of their homecoming matchup at Doak Campbell Stadium.

“They (the Seminoles) look much better. On offense right now you can tell there’s a plan. They’re really simple right now, really sound. They’re focused on execution and effort,” UMass coach Walt Bell said. “They’re starting to settle in to who they are.”

The re-emergence of sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis has been a key component. Travis was the No. 1 quarterback for the season opener – an overtime loss to Notre Dame – before losing the spot to McKenzie Milton. He was injured against Wake Forest in Game 3 after receiving another chance and missed the next game and a half.

“Losing changes a lot of people. You kind of get tired of it,” Travis said. “You put your foot down and just want to end it.”

Travis returned against Syracuse and delivered Florida State its first win of the season, then followed that with 145 yards passing and three touchdowns and 121 yards on the ground and another two scores in a win over North Carolina on Oct. 9.

“I think he’s very dynamic,” UMass senior defensive lineman Avien Peah said. “That’s going to be a test for us.”

The Seminoles also boast two of the most effective running backs in the ACC. Jashuan Corbin leads the league averaging 8.3 yards per carry (third in the ACC with 715 yards), while Treshaun Ward gains seven yards per rush.

On offense, UMass will have to deal with one of the nation’s most dynamic defensive lines. Jermaine Johnson is tied for sixth in the nation with seven sacks. Mieko Dotson has forced two fumbles.

“They’re really good up front,” Bell said. “They’re starting to turn the corner.”

It will be the third ACC opponent UMass has faced this season. The Minutemen lost at Pitt and against Boston College at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. This is UMass’ first ever trip to Doak Campbell Stadium and inaugural meeting with the Seminoles.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere being in a historic stadium. A lot of great players have played there,” Peah said. “It’s going to be a game to remember being in that atmosphere.”

After facing UMass, Florida State has games against Clemson, Miami, No. 18 NC State and Florida lined up.

“I can promise you we’re not going to look past anybody,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “My focus has been 100 percent on our football team, where we are and this week.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.


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