Spread Check: Florida State by 4.5.
I legitimately got one of those awesome jolts of giddiness this morning when I woke up and it hit me that it was the Monday morning of FSU game week. Regardless of what happens Thursday night, these next few days are going to be so much fun.
The leading story from day one of FSU game week has undoubtedly been the controversy surrounding Seminole running back Karlos Williams, who is being investigated for an alleged domestic battery. Hours after Florida State's emotional victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 24, Williams' pregnant girlfriend posted the following on Facebook:
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher was originally scheduled to speak to the media after practice on Monday, but has since canceled those plans. Florida State has, however, released an official statement on the matter.
"The Athletics Department is aware of an investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department involving football student-athlete Karlos Williams. Until we receive more information regarding the alleged incident his status with the team will be under review."
It's worth noting that "backup" running backs Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender have each rushed for more than 200 yards and have a combined seven touchdowns so far this season. Pender is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and Cook 4.3, so even if Williams isn't cleared to play Thursday night, the Cardinal defense is going to have some serious weapons to prepare for.
Congratulations to Gerod Holliman, who has been named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the best defensive back in college football. Here's the full list of honorees:
THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALISTS
Sam Carter, TCU, Sr.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, Jr.
Landon Collins, Alabama, Jr.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon, Sr.
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, So.
Senquez Golson, Ole Miss, Sr.
Josh Hawkins, East Carolina, Jr.
Gerod Holliman, Louisville, Jr.
Ronald Martin, LSU, Sr.
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, Sr.
Jordan Richards, Stanford, Sr.
Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma, So.
Triston Wade, UTSA, Sr.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State, Jr.
PJ Williams, Florida State, Jr.
The Cards stay put at No. 3 in the latest power rankings from the ACC Digital Network.
Clearly, the people are ready ....
@CardChronicle It's time. pic.twitter.com/2ndJn31sOQ— Pablo Diablobeck (@pablofluffchunk) October 27, 2014
@CardChronicle soon. pic.twitter.com/0wP4OFJT4H— Pablo Diablobeck (@pablofluffchunk) October 27, 2014
Louisville stays at No. 12 in this week's S&P Rankings from Football Outsiders.
U of L QB commit Lamar Jackson accounted for seven touchdowns in a 63-58 win for his unbeaten Boynton Beach squad last Friday. If we can keep that young man a Cardinal on NSD it will be an enormous recruiting score for the program.
Louisville checks in at No. 9 in SB Nation's preseason top 25 countdown. Ricky O'Donnell breaks down the Cards.
How the Cardinals can go deep in March: Terry Rozier lives up to the hype
On the surface, Terry Rozier doesn't look like the future NBA lottery pick he's being billed as on the brink of his sophomore season. Rozier came to Louisville as a good-not-great recruit, ranked as the No. 74 prospect in the class of 2012 by ESPN. After a year at prep school, he made his debut last season and put up modest numbers: seven points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 40 percent shooting from the field. At 6'1, 190 pounds, he certainly doesn't have elite size, either.
Regardless, many are expecting Rozier to compete for a spot on the All-American team this season now that the high usage rate of Russ Smith is out of the way. Rozier tore it up on the summer circuit, particularly at Adidas Nations in Los Angeles. He's super athletic and projects as a star defender in Pitino's system. Smith had such a remarkable career that projecting anyone to fill his shoes feels a bit presumptuous, but Rozier's relatively mediocre freshman numbers haven't dissuaded anymore from questioning his future.
Rozier isn't the only returning player expected to make a big leap. Mangok Mathiang almost seems obsessed in following the Dieng's footsteps, and he's finally put on the weight necessary to make it possible. Mathiang and Dieng hail from different parts of Africa, but the bond between the two players is strong. Mathiang has reportedly gotten up to 220 pounds over the offseason, and hopes to develop a face-up game like Dieng's while remaining a key rim protector defensive.
Of the freshman, Snider and center Chinanu Onuaku have the best shot at early playing time. Aaron is the best long-term prospect, but he might have some trouble making his name as a slasher until he gets stronger. It's a team that will have a talented if inexperienced bench, but you can typically trust Pitino to push the right buttons in situations like these.
The regular season home finale for the Louisville men's soccer team will take place Tuesday night when the Cards host SIUE. Admission to the game is free if you bring a canned good to help with the program's "Cards Kick Hunger" campaign.
The C-J's Adam Himmelsbach writes about a number of things (including his hatred of the Budweiser commercial where the dude gets drunk and leaves his dog alone for like 20 hours), and then picks FSU to beat Louisville by four.
A very happy 43rd birthday to one of the best-dressed dudes (and best coaches) in college sports, Mr. Jeff Walz.
Uhm yeah, someone might want to contact Florida State's athletics department. http://t.co/epEDoKG7Pn @CardChronicle pic.twitter.com/3Hby9korLO— Josh Raley (@JoshuaWRaley) October 27, 2014
Now it's on, FSU.
Draft Express has both Montrezl Harrell (3) and Terry Rozier (9) in its top 10 prospects in the ACC list.
The loaded bracket for the ACC Field Hockey Tournament is set, and fifth-seeded Louisville will take on No. 4 Wake Forest at 11 a.m. on Nov. 6.
This week we need PJCS to be LOUD!!!! It's game time even for you CardNation LETS DO THIS #WhoopFSU— Lorenzo Mauldin (@Lozo_Mauldin_IV) October 27, 2014
I've seen a lot of debate in recent days over whether or not Louisville fans should rush the field if an upset of Florida State does take place Thursday night. While it's been interesting to follow the various points and counterpoints, it's all ultimately meaningless because there is no doubt that a field storm will take place if the Cards end FSU's 23-game winning streak. Without going into any additional detail, I am completely in favor of it.
Louisville sits at No. 3, behind only Duke and Kentucky, in Ken Pomeroy's preseason top 10 for 2014-15.
The folks over at FSU juggernaut Tomahawk Nation wonder aloud just how good the Louisville defense actually is.
The reason I don't think this is the best defense in the country, however, is because of who Louisville has played. And specifically, who was playing for those teams when the games were played. I've singled out the FBS teams v. FBS competition (including BYU and Notre Dame), via CFBstats.com
Miami Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play @ Louisville 70 174 56 244 4.36 @ 17 Nebraska 76 359 65 435 6.69 24 Duke 203 223 75 426 5.68 @ Georgia Tech 107 245 44 352 8.00 @ Virginia Tech 364 92 69 456 6.61 Louisville held Miami to well below its season averages, however, this was the first game Miami played with true freshman QB Brad Kaaya, who made several major freshman mistakes.
Virginia Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play 25 UCLA 120 266 84 386 4.60 Louisville 114 171 70 285 4.07 @ Brigham Young 192 327 102 519 5.09 Pittsburgh 225 121 60 346 5.77 @ 24 Duke 140 325 78 465 5.96 North Carolina 159 284 84 443 5.27 Virginia's offense is not very good, and it continued to not be very good against Louisville's defense.
Wake Forest Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play @ Louisville -22 122 57 100 1.75 @ 2 Florida St. 40 86 61 126 2.07 Syracuse 71 99 59 170 2.88 Boston College 19 242 63 261 4.14 Wake Forest's offense is awful, and it continued to be awful against Louisville.
Syracuse Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play Maryland 370 219 79 589 7.46 + 6 Notre Dame 135 294 68 429 6.31 Louisville 59 201 62 260 4.19 2 Florida St. 156 256 67 412 6.15 @ Wake Forest 199 171 70 370 5.29 @ 22 Clemson 88 82 62 170 2.74 This was the last game played by QB Terell Hunt, as he was injured late. Hunt's numbers on the year were pretty bad on the year, but they were the worst all year against Louisville.
Clemson Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play @ 9 Georgia 88 203 76 291 3.83 @ 2 Florida St. 101 306 73 407 5.58 North Carolina 92 436 83 528 6.36 North Carolina St. 226 267 80 493 6.16 Louisville 72 157 72 229 3.18 @ Boston College 113 285 81 398 4.91 Syracuse 166 209 83 375 4.52 This game stands out, as freshman phenom Deshawn Watson was injured in the first quarter. Louisville did hold him down in very limited reps, but he only had six throws. The backup QB for Clemson was terrible and apparently also injured.
NC State Opponent Rush Pass Plays Total Yards/Play 2 Florida St. 161 359 87 520 5.98 @ 22 Clemson 119 35 57 154 2.70 Boston College 43 174 58 217 3.74 @ Louisville 128 223 63 351 5.57 People I know think QB Jacoby Brissett's injury late in the FSU game was more serious than the Woflpack let on, and the numbers certainly agree.
So indeed, Louisville has held just about everyone under their season averages, some well under. But they've also not played any QB close to the likes of Jameis WInston, and the better QBs they've played were facing some rather interesting circumstances (first ever start as a true freshman, coming off injury, playing injured, etc.).
I also note that Louisville has not really faced a team that can spread things out and throw like Florida State can. Clemson with Watson likely could have, and the Tigers had two huge drops from Watson passes, including a deep touchdown and a deep flag route.
Rick Pitino and Mike Balado paid top class of 2018 point guard Damon Harge Jr. a visit over the weekend.
Florida State's official website takes a look at the Seminoles' top five Thursday night performances, an exercise which includes the tidbit that FSU's first Thursday game took place against Louisville in 1983.
5. Allen powers past Louisville in first Thursday game (1983)
Veteran tailback Greg Allen would not be denied when Louisville visited Doak Campbell Stadium for the first Thursday game in program history. Allen led a 336-yard rushing attack with 145 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in a 51-7 victory, which was televised on TBS. Roosevelt Snipes added 109 yards on the ground for the Noles and the FSU defense limited the Cardinals to 194 yards. Louisville avoided a second 50-point shutout loss at the hands of the Noles by scoring with 1:02 remaining.
Greg Allen led FSU past Louisville in the Seminoles' first-ever Thursday game in 1983.
Tallahassee.com says the vaunted FSU offense is preparing for "the ultimate test" against U of L.
And finally, Mark Ennis and I are back on the radio this evening from 6-8 on ESPN 680. Bobby Petrino will be holding his weekly press conference at 5:40 following the team's practice, and we'll have audio from that during the show.