Saturday at 7 on ESPN the ‘Noles will be in Gainesville to take on the rival Florida Gators.
Florida is 5-6 on the season with wins against McNeese, Tennessee, Charlotte, Vanderbilt and South Carolina and losses to Utah, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, LSU and Missouri.
FSU is 27-37-2 all-time versus UF and have not won on the road since 2017. The Seminoles won a thriller last season, 45-38.
Observations from the last game
Every Seminole feels absolutely awful for Jordan Travis. Praying for a successful recovery for 13. His leadership on the field and ability to limit mistakes will be missed the most.
The new QB1 is the 4th year man, Tate Rodemaker. The Valdosta native can make all the throws and can hurt the defense in the run game. He has thrown for 376 yards and 5 touchdowns this year. The offense should run smoothly as long as Rodemaker takes care of the football.
Florida State offense versus Florida defense
FSU needs to have success on first down to keep Rodemaker in non-obvious passing situations. If the ‘Noles can do that, it will give Rodemaker more time to make a throw and keep the defense guessing.
I expect Norvell to get creative with tight end Jaheim bell and running back Lawrence Toafili to put them in good down and distances. That’s easier said than done with a banged up offensive line. (Maurice Smith, Robert Scott and Bless Harris are questionable.)
Even with the all the questions on offense Florida State still has the advantage against the UF defense. The Gators are 125th (FBS) in opponents’ yards per rush and 105th in passing yards per game given up. Impact players on defense for Florida are safety Jordan Castell (58 tackles), linebacker Shemar James (55 tackles) and D-End Princely Umanmielen (6.5 sacks).
Florida State defense versus Florida offense
The Florida starting quarterback Graham Mertz, who was having an incredible season, is out for the game. He guided the offense to 276 yards passing per game (25th in the FBS). His replacement will be freshman Max Brown, who showed his athleticism in the comeback bid against Missouri.
Brown won’t be the only threat in the run game as Gators running backs Trevor Etienne and Montrell Johnson (710 yards rushing apiece) have helped the Gators rush for 4.1 yards per carry, 74th in the FBS.
UF also has two game breakers at receiver in Ricky Pearsall (148 yards receiving in ’22 versus FSU) and Eugene Wilson. If the ‘Noles can continue to slow down the opponent’s passing game that will free up the linebackers and safeties to help defend the run. Star corner Renardo Green might be limited so AZ Thomas and Fentrell Cypress need to step up against Wilson and Pearsall when they line up outside.
I think the ‘Noles defense bails out the offense after a couple mistakes to lead FSU to another close victory. Florida State 28 Florida 20.