Florida State overcame injuries to several key players on Friday night to outlast Louisville 35-31 and improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2015. Quarterback Jordan Travis and defensive end Jared Verse exited during the second quarter with lower-body injuries before key offensive lineman Robert Scott and defensive tackle Malcom Ray left in the second half with injuries.
Those in-game health woes came after redshirt junior defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, an All-ACC honorable mention honoree in 2021, did not make the trip because of a leg injury suffered in FSU's Week 1 win over LSU. All the attrition allowed a couple of unexpected stars to emerge for the Seminoles, which got an interception from Kevin Knowles with 37 seconds left to end a potential game-winning Louisville drive.
Backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker and receiver Johnny Wilson connected four times as Wilson tallied 149 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns, both of which were thrown by Rodemaker. Wilson, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Arizona State, had just 154 yards receiving for the Sun Devils last season. Rodemaker, a redshirt sophomore, hadn't thrown a touchdown, but had four interceptions, over six career appearances before emerging as a hero against the Cardinals.
After Travis' injury with 4:21 left in the second quarter, Rodemaker completed 1 of 3 passes for negative yardage with an interception before halftime. But he finished the night 6 of 10 for 109 yards with the two touchdown throws to Wilson and no more interceptions.
After receiving 42 votes in this past week's AP Top 25, the Seminoles will have a shot to be ranked Monday as they prepare for a Week 4 home game with Boston College. But FSU has plenty to figure out from a health situation before suiting up again.
Travis, Verse in street clothes
Travis was seen on crutches at the start of the second half with his left leg in a boot, while Verse was out of uniform. Travis suffered a leg injury in the second quarter during a sack, while Verse suffered a knee injury, according to 247Sports.
The injury to Travis occurred when Louisville's YaYa Diaby dragged the Seminoles signal-caller down from behind while he attempted a pass. Travis quickly grabbed his left leg after the play and remained on the field for several minutes before being helped off. The injury came on the heels of a hot start for Travis, who completed his first 11 passes and was 13 of 17 for 157 yards, two touchdowns and an interception when he exited.
Verse, an Albany transfer, accumulated three sacks in the season's first two games and appeared poised to be a breakout player in the ACC this season.
Quarterback depth concerns
While Rodemaker looked better in the second half on Friday than he has at any point during his career, quarterback depth will be a concern for the Seminoles if Travis is forced to miss extended time. True freshman AJ Duffy is FSU's only other scholarship quarterback after Travis and Rodemaker. Duffy was considered a four-star prospect and the No. 13 quarterback in the 2022 recruiting class, per 247Sports.
Travis, a redshirt senior, was off to a solid start to his year with 467 yards passing entering the Louisville game. He looked particularly strong in Florida State's Week 1 win over LSU, during which he completed 20 of 33 passes for 260 yards with a pair of touchdowns. That victory helped lift the Seminoles to their first 2-0 start since 2016 and cemented the notion that Travis, a Louisville transfer, may be in for a breakout season.