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Breakout receiver Nyqwan Murray settles into rhythm for Seminoles

Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire

Florida State sophomore receiver Nyqwan Murray enjoyed another breakout performance in Saturday’s 24-20 win at N.C. State.

After being a non-factor for most of the season, Murray hit his stride last week with a career-best 96 yards and his first touchdown of 2016 on six receptions. This week, the sophomore recorded 153 yards and nine catches. Perhaps more impressive was Murray’s ability to bounce back from a crucial dropped third down pass in the first half.

“It was really big for him,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said of the receiver’s performance during his postgame press conference.

“He had a drop or two. He had some things early in the game that cost us a big drive coming off. There’s still a lot he can really clean up, and we just had that talk.”

Despite a slow start, the former three-star prospect is developing into a major threat in FSU’s offense. In two weeks, Murray has recorded 15 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown. He also became the fourth FSU player to record 100 receiving yards in 2016, including Travis Rudolph (2), Jesus Wilson (2) and Dalvin Cook (2).

Speking of Rudolph, the star receiver provided the game-winning touchdown in Week 10. The junior caught a 19-yard pass from Deondre Francois to put the Seminoles ahead for the first time all game with 3:09 remaining. Rudolph finished with three catches for 39 yards.

Francois’ game winning drive was also a much-needed answer to early miscues. After playing from behind, FSU climbed back in the second half and capped off the comeback thanks to their confident redshirt freshman quarterback.

“Let’s go get this drive,” Francois told his team, as he revealed to Noles247. And with that, the redshirt freshman led a five-play, 83-yard drive which culminated with Rudolph’s touchdown reception.

“He was very clutch when the big moments came on,” Fisher said. “Made the throws, made the throws down the field, took the shots.”

Like Murray, Francois was excellent in the second half prior to FSU’s last touchdown drive. After going 7-of-17 for 102 yards in the first two quarters, he finished 15-of-22 for 228 yards in the game’s final 30 minutes.

Francois’ performance proved that he has matured into a dependable quarterback for FSU, which is something to be optimistic about for 2017. As a redshirt sophomore, he should show even more poise and confidence after having played a full season.

FSU’s victory proved once again that it could fend off surprising challenges from overmatched conference foes. After struggling to put away favored Clemson the previous week, the Noles bounced back to capture a win against a solid opponent in N.C. State.

This week, FSU will host Boston College, which has struggled throughout the 2016 season. It should be a game in which the ‘Noles capture an easy win, but this season has proven that those are not guaranteed.

FSU’s performances in close games shouldn’t be overlooked, but isn’t too much of a cause for concern. At least the ‘Noles know how to handle adversity, which is good with expectations likely to be high once again in 2017.

Despite likely losing Rudolph and star running back Dalvin Cook, FSU should remain in the ACC championship hunt with a talented roster, including two budding offensive stars in Francois and Murray.

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