This Saturday at 7:30 the Seminoles will be in Charlottesville, Virginia to take on the Virginia Cavaliers on the ACC network.
Virginia is 2-0 with wins over Pittsburgh and William and Mary and is ranked no. 25 in the AP poll.
The last time these two teams met was in 2014 in Tallahassee. FSU claimed the victory 34-20 behind Rashad Greene’s 13 catches for 136 yards.
Observations from the last game
The Seminoles would be going to Charlottesville 0-2 if it weren’t for Cam Akers. He won ACC running back of the week for his performance, in which he had 248 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
The first 7 possessions went exactly how FSU would have hoped with 3 touchdowns on offense and forcing 4 punts on defense. With a chance to put Louisiana Monroe away the Seminoles started to let the opposition back into the game. Once the offense started to pick it back up the defense could not figure out the read option and the ‘Noles found themselves down by 4 with 8 minutes to go.
After cutting the penalties down to 5 against Boise State, the home team reverted back to last year and committed 11 penalties. Most of these penalties were of the pre-snap variety.
Former USF head coach and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has joined the Seminoles staff as a defensive analyst.
Starting left tackle Jauan Williams will miss the game due to a sprained ankle. Abdul Bello will replace him in the starting lineup.
Lavonta Taylor will be back in the mix at safety after missing last week.
Punter Logan Tyler will be suspended another game and Tommy Martin will get the start.
Florida State offense versus Virginia defense
This Virginia defense has playmakers at every level of its 3-4 defense. The most talented position group of the defense is linebacker. Charles Snowden, Jordan Mack and Zane Zandier are the headliners and deservedly so. Snowden is 6’7’’ but looks comfortable covering receivers in space, Mack is a great blitzer with 3 sacks already this year and Zandier leads the team in tackles with 18.
Cornerback Bryce Hall is likely to be taken in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft and a few draft experts have been him going as high as six overall. He is a big and very athletic corner that could be a true shutdown corner if Virginia played more man coverage. Defensive lineman Eli Hanback and Joey Blount are players to look out for as well.
The FSU O-Line has gotten better in the run game, which has allowed Cam Akers to look more like his old self. So I believe Akers will put up good numbers and it will be up to James Blackman and Tamarrion Terry to be more consistent to help the offense move the ball. Outside receivers like Warren Thompson, Ontaria Wilson and Keith Gavin will need to play up to their capabilities as well.
Florida state defense versus breaking up its Virginia offense
The Cavaliers offense is based on controlling the clock and staying consistent to make sure 3rd downs are easier to convert. They have been able to average 34 minutes of time of possession (14th in the FBS) and have a 47 % third-down conversion percentage.
Quarterback Bryce Perkins has been one of the main reasons for UVA’s success. In this game he will have to rely on his passing ability more than usual due to an injury to his knee. Cavalier Coach Bronco Mendenhall has not ruled him out, but Perkins was wearing a brace on Tuesday. Pittsburgh runs a very similar defense to FSU and racked up 3 sacks in the first half. Couple that with a hobbled Perkins and the Seminoles defense might have some success disrupting the Cavalier offense.
Mike Hollins, Wayne Tualappa and PK Kier have been sharing time at running back and have gained around 200 yards between them. As for receivers, Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois get most of the targets. Reed is the speed guy who is also the kick returner and Dubois is an all around receiver that is a threat from anywhere on the field.
In the first two weeks FSU struggled against quick twitch receivers and the read option. With this in mind I expect Barnett to put the corners, Asante Samuel and Stanford Samuels, in more man coverage to push Reed off his routes to get more linebackers and safeties involved in stopping the option.
FSU punter Tommy Martin was decent last week but will need to play better in Charlottesville. Virginia’s kicker Brian Dalaney is a second year starting kicker and is 16-20 in field-goal attempts during his career. Joe Reed is an all-conference kickoff return man that already has a score this season. Punter Nash Griffin has placed 3 of his 4 punts inside the 20. Virginia looks to have the advantage in all three phases of special teams this week.
Throughout the first two weeks of the season FSU has been abysmal on third down on both sides of the ball and, in contrast, UVA has been converting at a solid clip. If these trends continue it will be a long night for the Seminoles but if these numbers even out the ‘Noles will have a chance to pull it out at the end. I think Florida State will keep it close into the fourth quarter but will be forced into a mistake late stopping the rally just short. I’m predicting UVA 37 FSU 23.