This Saturday at 3:30 PM on ESPN the ‘Noles will square off with the Louisville Cardinals at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Louisville is 2-1 with wins over Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky and a loss to Notre Dame. This will be the Cardinals’ first game on the road this season.
The last time these two faced off was last year in Louisville. FSU brought home the victory 28-24 with a last-minute touchdown pass from Deondre Francois to Nyqwan Murray.
Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh is out for the rest of the season with a lower leg injury.
Leonard Warner has moved to one of the middle linebacker positions and Jaiden Lars-Woodbey moves to outside linebacker. Warner is going back to his original position while Lars-Woodbey is trying out his fourth position in Garnet and Gold.
Stanford Samuels is participating in practice after he left the Virginia game with what looked like a hand injury.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been informed that he will play at least one series on Saturday.
Observations from last game
The whole team played like most people thought they were are capable of playing at the beginning of the season for the first 50 minutes. Then the mental/physical lapses that we saw in the first two games started piling up.
A guy that we are not used to seeing make many mistakes is James Blackman. He missed wide-open receivers on 3rd and 6 on the second to last drive and from the 50-yard line in the last drive. He has nine touchdowns in three games (only four other quarterbacks in the country have completed this feat) so he is still the starter. Yes he didn’t play up to his standards in the last five minutes, but FSU would not have had a chance if it weren’t for his efforts.
Virginia doubled up FSU in time of possession. However it did not affect the game as much as the Boise State game because the Cavaliers only ran 6 more plays than Florida State. The real issue with the defense breaking down again in this game was the lack of discipline, dealing with injuries and Bryce Perkins taking over with his legs and arm.
Florida State offense versus Louisville defense
Although the Louisville defense was able to bolster their stats against an out matched Eastern Kentucky team, the stats from this year are a lot better last year in terms of yards and points. They still struggle with making impact plays like sacks and forcing turnovers. Through three games the Cardinals have 8 sacks and 3 turnovers. The strength of this defense is the linebacker position group. The middle linebackers CJ Avery and Dorian Etheridge do a nice job staying in their lanes and making tackles. (Avery with 16 tackles and Etheridge with 12 tackles). The outside linebackers Rodjay Burns and Nick Okeke are the guys usually responsible for pressuring the opposing quarterback.
The rest of the defense features plenty of experience with 4 redshirt seniors and only one sophomore. That one sophomore is cornerback Chandler Jones and I expect that Briles, Blackmun and Terry will try to target him in the passing game. The 3 defensive linemen are relatively small compared to other Power 5 teams. FSU is hopeful that the guards Brady Scott and Dontae Lucas, as well as the center Baveon Johnson, can push them off the ball to provide space for Cam Akers to build on his hot start.
Florida State defense versus Louisville offense
Juwan Pass will get his second career start against the Seminoles. Last year he was 24/45 for 306 yards and two interceptions. Louisville coach Scott Satterfield and company have been using Pass more in the run game than the previous staff. His big frame, strong arm and physical running style reminds me of UF’s Feleipe Franks.
Not only has Pass been used more in the ground attack but the rest of the offense has been getting in on the act as well. The starting running back Javian Hawkins has rushed for 339 yards averaging almost 7 yards per carry. Running back Hassan Hall has been a solid backup for Hawkins as well.
Due to all the success of the run game and Pass missing the last game, targets are down for the receivers. This has not slowed down leading receiver Tutu Atwell at all. He has 11 catches for 241 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year. Other receivers look out for are Dez Fitzpatrick and tight end Marshon Ford. Louisville’s offense goes no huddle, but not quite the fast tempo Kendall Riles and Willie Taggart like to do. The FSU offense will need to sustain a few drives to keep the Cardinals from running 80+ plays. Last year against Notre Dame, the Seminoles were gashed on the ground and linebacker Leonard Warner was inserted into the lineup to help slow down Boston College’s AJ Dillon. The FSU defense had one of it’s best games of the year in route to the victory. Hopefully, moving Warner back into the starting lineup will bring similar results.
Logan Tyler has returned from this suspension, but it is still uncertain whether or not he will be back in the starting lineup. Punt returner DJ Matthews is in the same boat as Tyler. If Tyler and Matthews cannot play, then Tommy Martin and Keyshawn Helton will fill in. Ricky Agauyo has looked sharp this year as he is not missed a kick. As for the Cardinals Mason King will be the punter (3 punts inside the 20), Blanton Creque returns as the kicker, Tutu Atwell returns punts and Hassan Hall returns kicks.
Due to the fast pace of offenses this game will feature a lot of plays and possessions for each team. The Seminoles have the better offense and the home field advantage, so I think Florida State will win by a couple scores. FSU 38 Louisville 28.