Florida State hasn’t seen much success in the win column over the last few years but one thing they could hang their hat on is was their defense. That hasn’t really been the case this year with the defense surrendering a lot of yards and a lot of points. New Defensive Coordinator Adam Fuller took over a similar situation to the offense a few years ago. He has a couple of stars but as a whole, the defense has some glaring issues that may take time to fix.
The Defensive Line is the best group of talent for this defense but they haven’t been nearly as effective as they’ve been over the last few years. Marvin Wilson passed up the opportunity to be a first round NFL pick to come back to school and his effort is still so amazing to me. I don’t know of another player that plays as hard as he does in the country. The difference this year is that Wilson and the others in the interior have not been able to make many plays. The group as a whole has 1.5 tackles for loss and the same amount of sacks. This could be due to the scheme change as the Linebackers have made a lot of plays but Wilson, Corey Durden, and Robert Cooper were able to be disruptive while also making plays in the past. That just hasn’t been the case so far this season.
The ends have been pretty solid so far this season but they need more consistency from Janarius Robinson and Joshua Kaindoh. Robinson had 3 tackles for loss and 2 sacks last week while Kaindoh had a pick six. But before last week, they had combined for 1.5 tackles for loss and that was against Jacksonville State. They need more from these high level pass rushers going forward. While I think this defensive front can cause some issues against the run, Louisville could have time to get the ball down the field if they can have the same success that others have in pass protection.
The Linebackers have been a bright spot for this defense with Amari Gainer looking like a future star and Emmett Rice finally reaching his potential. Stephen Dix is getting a lot of playing time as a freshman at Middle Linebacker and the staff has to be happy with his play so far. These guys can all run but I do think that UofL could find some success with misdirection plays. Notre Dame killed them with counter runs a few weeks ago and I think that is due to these Linebackers overplaying things and opening up lanes to run through. If Louisville doesn’t use misdirection, they could just have the backs key on backside holes like they did against Pitt.
I’ve been really impressed with Asante Samuel Jr. this season. He’s tied for the national lead in interceptions and passes defended. He also does a plenty in run support with 26 tackles on the year. I almost wonder if FSU decided to bring more pressure last week because they decided to trust Samuel to shut down his side of the field.
On the opposite side of the field, FSU hasn’t had the same results. Akeem Dent, Jarrian Jones, and Jarvis Brownlee have combined for fewer PBUs than Samuel has on his own. They also haven’t forced a turnover yet. FSU is allowing opposing passers to complete 66% of their passes and I truly think that Louisville has to try to exploit that factor.
Hamsah Nasirildeen has been out this season and I’m not sure if he’ll be back for this game or not. His absence has been significant as he is an outstanding player in run support and he can cover a lot of ground as a deep Safety. Jaden Lars-Woodbey is an excellent player but I think they have lost some flexibility because you would like to get them both on the field in some way. Ricardo Green has been the starter at Free Safety with Travis Jay getting some snaps as well. Both have been solid but they need more plays from the position.
Louisville has been looking for an opportunity to exploit a team’s Safeties and I think they may have an opportunity this week. Lars-Woodbey is great but he’s also 225 pounds as he was moved to Linebacker by the previous staff. Louisville needs to manipulate the defense with formations to try to get these Safeties in single coverage.