This Saturday at 7:30 PM on ABC Florida State will host the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels, ranked number 5, are 3-0 with wins over Syracuse, Boston College and Virginia Tech.
FSU is 15-3-1 against North Carolina all time, but have lost the last two games in the series. UNC defeated the Seminoles 37-35 in Tallahassee in 2016 on a last second field goal. The last time FSU won was in 2009, Bobby Bowden’s last season.
Observations are the last game
The success that Jordan Travis and the Seminole offense had against JSU carried over against one of the best defenses FSU will see all year. When the Seminoles stayed on schedule the offense was able to make plays. However, once Travis was forced into throwing situations it was tough for them to move the ball. It was just his first start, so maybe this aspect of his game will get better.
FSU’s defensive front seven got manhandled by one of the best offensive lines they will ever see.
Safety Brandon Gant had to play more than expected with several injuries at safety. He showed plenty of effort and was in the right spot most of the time, but the Notre Dame backs were able to make him miss in the hole.
Florida State offense versus North Carolina defense
On Wednesday we learned that star receiver Tamorrion Terry will miss at least couple weeks with a foot injury. This is a huge loss for the Seminole offense, but I still expect FSU to have some success through the air against North Carolina’s inexperienced secondary.
With Terry out players like Keyshawn Helton, Ontario Wilson and Camm McDonald will need to help their quarterback out if FSU is to keep pace with the potent Tar Heel offense.
The center piece of the UNC defense is middle linebacker Chazz Suratt, who leads the team with 21 tackles and is tied for the team lead with 3 sacks. Other players to look out for are linebacker Jeremiah Gremmel and the Fox Brothers, Tomon and Tomari. A couple of weeks ago I didn’t think that FSU would be able to move the ball against good defenses. However, after the offensive performance last week I think the offense can move the ball on anyone. Keeping the ball in short down and distances will be the key for Travis and the FSU offense.
Florida State defense versus North Carolina offense
North Carolina’s explosive offense is a run first offense that features two highly productive running backs, Javante Williams and Michael Carter. Williams has 416 total yards on the year with 7 TDs, while Carter has 494 total yards and 2 TDs. The quarterback, Sam Howell, is capable of running the read option and scrambling, which keeps the defense guessing. The sophomore quarterback has thrown for 777 yards and 6 TDs. He also likes to spread the ball around as six receivers have more than six catches. The rest of North Carolina’s offense features experienced wide receivers and a solid offensive line. UNC’s running backs are a threat on the ground and in the passing game, so once again it’s up to the FSU linebackers and safeties to figure out what they are doing quickly and either cover them or make the tackle.
With Travis Jay, the Seminoles would hold the advantage in this aspect of the game, but without him it makes it a little more even. North Carolina’s kicker, Grayson Atkins, is 2/4 but his longest is only 35 yards. The punter, Ben Kiernan, has 10 punts with a long of 57.
Even without Terry I believe FSU will be able to move the ball and rack up some points. However, it is up to the defense to play like they did in the second half versus Notre Dame instead of the first half. I think the defense will play slightly better, but it might not reflect on the scoreboard due to North Carolina’s up-tempo style. If the ‘Noles end up plus 2 or better in the turnover margin I think there’s a chance for the upset. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
Florida State 30 North Carolina 40.