The Daily Nole

Garnet Defeats Gold 31-13 in 2018 Spring Game

Clint Eiland/The Daily Nole

Over 60,000 fans packed in to Doak Campbell Stadium to watch the first spring game under new coach Willie Taggart and his staff. With updated end zones and famous alumni in town, Florida State made sure to pull out all the stops for fans and players alike in a 31-13 win for the Garnet team.

The teams split up into Garnet and Gold, though offensive linemen donned black jerseys to indicate that some would be playing for both sides. That’s one way to fulfill a promise about showcasing uniforms at Florida State.

Garnet struck first after a long pass to Tamorrion Terry set up a short Khalan Laborn touchdown run. Gold responded on the next drive, using chunk plays to get all the way into Garnet territory before setting up a double pass trick play. Keith Gavin threw it to a wide open Jacques Patrick in the end zone, knotting it up, 7-7.

The increase in tempo is the most notable change of the Taggart era so far. Defenses looked vulnerable when the ball swung to the outside, but did a fairly good job at deterring longer plays or runs up the middle.

After trading punts, Garnet took the lead when Laborn took off for a 91-yard touchdown run. He made a jump cut in the backfield and burst through a rare gap in the line.

Laborn looked like a true weapon in the offense. He’s got a very nice blend of speed and cutting ability that would make him a starter at many Power 5 programs. He finished with 13 touches for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including a 91-yard score in the first quarter.

James Blackman had the difficult task of trying to push the offense downfield while facing the team’s top defenders. In addition to the line troubles, his receivers were struggling to gain much separation, resulting in plenty of 50/50 passes. Cam Akers produced the last points of the half with a short touchdown run to extend the Garnet lead to 21-7 at the break.

The teams came out firing in the second half. Deonte Sheffield caught a pass from Blackman and made an impressive juke to spring free for a 65-yard touchdown. A missed extra point by Logan Tyler kept it 21-13.

Sheffield remarked after the game how much the spring practice was different: “Not going to lie, it was kind of hard for everybody, especially the lineman, skill positions, trying to do the fast paced offense. We’re getting better, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Gold was unable to do anything with the ball after a fumbled punt return two possessions later. Garnet made it pay with Terry dominating on the next drive, eventually capping it off with a jump ball catch in the corner of the end zone. It’s important to remember that Gold had no scholarship cornerbacks. Garnet went up 28-13 after the play.

The fourth quarter was a toned down version of the game. In between various chunk plays, both teams looked tired as the quarter went on.

As expected, the offensive lines looked helpless much of the time. There’s simply too many injuries and too big of a learning curve to expect more out of them at this point. Both quarterbacks were as composed as they possibly could be with their offensive lines. Oddly enough, each looked a bit rusty when it came to leading their receivers down the field.

Blackman finished 16-for-32 passing for 259 yards and one passing touchdown, while Bailey Hockman completed 11-for-22 for 203 passing yards and one passing touchdown. Sheffield had nine receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown to lead the Gold. Garnet’s Tamorrion Terry matched him with five receptions and 129 yards to go with a touchdown. D.J. Matthews had six catches for 105 yards in the win.

Blackman claimed that “We’re going to get a lot more done in the summer than we did in the spring, because we’re going to put in a lot more work and spend a lot more time…it’s a very different vibe, we’re having fun…I just want to thank the fans for coming out and showing us the support that they did. ‘Nole Nation.”

Garnet was able to capture the 31-13 win as the final seconds ticked down. The fans rose to their feet, sending a raucous cheer throughout the stadium. They broke out into the war chant as the players ran off the field in celebration. Taggart walked the whole stadium, high-fiving fans leaning over the railing.

Nothing will truly matter until the regular season begins on Labor Day. But for what it’s worth, the team made a great first impression.

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