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Game Day: Louisville vs. Florida State

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It’s now or never for the 2020 Louisville Cardinals.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Music City Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-4, 0-4) vs. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (2-3, 1-3)

Game Time: Noon

Location: Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.

Television: Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports South in Louisville)

Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play), James Bates (analyst), and Lyndsay Rowley (sideline)

Favorite: Louisville by 4.5

All-Time Series: Florida State leads, 16-4

Last Meeting: Florida State won 35-24 on Sept. 21, 2019 in Tallahassee

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

About Florida State

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

The Louisville defense found a way to slow down an explosive Notre Dame offense last weekend but they now get to face an offense figuring things out. Mike Norvell took over at Florida State this year and he finally got his first win over an FBS team last weekend when they knocked off North Carolina. Norvell’s offenses are known for putting up a lot of yards and a lot of points and last week they looked like a team that can get things going when they don’t make mistakes.

Jordan Travis has shown flashes of his potential for three years now but the redshirt sophomore has finally been handed the keys to an offense. He looks like the same guy that Louisville fans saw promise with as a freshman while also showing good growth as a passer. Travis is a running QB and he has really good speed and elusiveness. The big change this year has been his ability to make plays with his arm even though he’s still been inconsistent.

Travis has been dynamic at times as a runner and his penchant to look for the big play has worked out for the most part as a passer. Travis will take chances to push the ball down the field and he’s had some success doing so. Louisville has to do something that no one has been able to so far. They have to force Travis to beat them with his arm and his arm only. If he gets going as a runner, I’m not sure UofL will have much success.

FSU has been using a committee at Running Back this year and they’ve had mixed results. La’Damien Webb has been the most consistent runner so far and he finished the UNC game with 94 yards, including a 53 yarder in the second half. Lawrance Toafili is the other back that I think we’ll see this weekend. He hasn’t been getting many carries but he looked really solid against Miami a few weeks ago. Jashaun Corbin is getting a lot of snaps but he’s been lining up in different spots and hasn’t been as effective as the other two backs.

Louisville has to slow down this running game and turn this into a game where FSU has to pass to win. Getting these Running Backs under control is really important because, as we saw in the Notre Dame game, allowing them to get 5-6 yards leads to sustained drives and points.

It feels like I say this every year but FSU has a bunch of speed at Wide Receiver and they haven’t done a great job utilizing that speed yet. They are coming off of a game where they finally started to hit big plays and Jordan Travis is a big factor in that. Travis extends plays with his legs and the staff also does a good job designing plays off of his running ability. Ontario Wilson got open for a big 58 yard catch last week and Keyshawn Helton had an impressive catch on a 39 yard throw. With Tamorrion Terry possibly out again with an injury, FSU has to find some consistency here. Louisville also has to be mindful of Cam McDonald at Tight End.

Florida State’s offensive line has still struggled this year but they played well against UNC last week with FSU being able to stay out of “must pass” situations. FSU got the lead early and from that point they focused on running the football with a few shots down the field once UNC started to stack the box. All of this put FSU’s line in good shape because they didn’t have to pass block against a defense with their ears pinned back and when they did run the ball, FSU mixed things up and kept UNC off balance.

This line isn’t where it needs to be but if FSU keeps things close, UofL won’t likely be able to take advantage of their deficiencies. They need to force the issue when it comes to stopping the run and put them in passing situations. That is where this line struggles.

DEFENSE

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.

Excitement Level: 5.4

Sitting at 0-4 in the ACC and playing a regional sports network noon game is not how I envisioned the setup for Florida State Saturday.

Game Attire: Red Lamar leap shirt

Keep it simple, stupid.

Pregame Meal: Coffee and a bagel

Ditto.

Bold Prediction: Louisville scores first

Look I’m 0-for-5 on the year and none of the five have been even remotely close. Swinging for a bunt single here.

Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Turquoise Blue (Deece)

The Alert Level still says deece.

Predicted Star of the Game: Monty Montgomery

If the Cards are going to bottle up Jordan Travis, Montgomery figures to be the primary reason why.

Notable:

—Louisville is playing at home for the first time since Sept. 19. This weekend marks Homecoming for U of L.

—Florida State is 6-2 against Louisville in games played in Louisville. The Seminoles also own a 4-2 advantage over the Cardinals in games played since U of L’s move to the ACC in 2014.

—Malik Cunningham ranks 15th nationally and is second in the ACC with 10 touchdown passes.

—Cunningham has been responsible for 78 points this season, throwing for 10 touchdown passes and rushing for three additional scores. Cunningham ranks second in the ACC in points responsible for.

—FSU ranks 1st in the NCAA with five blocked kicks this season. The Seminoles are the only team in the country with at least one blocked field goal, PAT and punt this season and are the only team to have blocked multiple field goals and multiple punts. Individually, Marvin Wilson leads the NCAA with three blocked kicks.

—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 8-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-8 when losing it. The Cards have lost the turnover battle in four of their five games this season. Neither they nor Notre Dame committed a turnover last week.

—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 49-4 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 8-1 in such games under Satterfield, with the lone loss coming earlier this season against Miami.

—Florida State has scored on seven of its 10 opening drives of a half this season and scored a total of 40 points on those drives.

—The Seminoles are 7-of-11 (.636) on 4th-down attempts this season, the 6th-best conversion rate nationally among teams with at least 11 attempts.

—Since Jordan Travis, a Louisville transfer, became Florida State’s primary quarterback, FSU has scored on 15 of 31 drives with him behind center. After Travis entered the win vs. Jacksonville State, the Seminoles scored touchdowns on six of their last seven drives, including five straight touchdown drives, marking the first time FSU scored touchdowns on five straight drives since taking six straight drives to the end zone Nov. 18, 2017 vs. Delaware State.

—Louisville inside linebackers coach Derek Nicholson was a 3-year starter at linebacker for Florida State from 2006-08.

—Florida State Wide receivers coach Ron Dugans was Louisville’s Wide receivers coach from 2010- 13.

—Florida State is coming off a 31-28 win over No. 5 North Carolina, its first win over a top five opponent since 2014. It was the first time since 1965 that an unranked Seminole team beat a top five opponent while playing at home.

—This is Louisville’s second four-game ACC losing streak since joining the conference in 2014. The Cardinals went 0-8 in league play in 2018.

—The 12 points Notre Dame scored last week were the fewest by an opponent in a Louisville loss since a 10-7 loss to Cincinnati in 1996 at old Cardinal Stadium. It also was the fewest by an opponent in a road loss since Memphis beat Louisville 10-6 in 1979.

—Louisville is 15-11 in ACC home games since joining the conference in 2014.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 255 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 12th-longest in the country.

—Louisville is 190-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-118 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“We’ve just got to continue doing little things correctly, finding ways to make plays offensively and defensively. We hope what we did last week instilled a little bit of confidence and encouragement to our guys to continue what they’re doing.” —Scott Satterfield

—“This week, our message has been we have to have 60 minutes. We have to have a complete game because going on the road, this is a very talented team that we’re playing. If we don’t bring our A game, this is is going to be extremely tough.” —Florida State head coach Mike Norvell

—“One thing we worked on really hard on this week is getting off the field on third down. That’s been our nemesis. The guys are responding. They can see some light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re excited to get out there and hopefully have a better performance.” —Bryan Brown

—“I’d rather not get into the experience of what happened there, but I still talk to some of my old teammates. We’re pretty close, those are my guys, but this week we’re focused on playing this team and that’s about it.” —Florida State QB Jordan Travis

—“They have some talented players. What I saw Saturday was just those guys were playing hard. Just effort. Defensively, they played with great effort. Offensively making a lot of plays. I think when they started the quarterback, Jordan Travis in the game, going back to Jacksonville State in the second half, they’ve scored on about half of their offensive possessions, and he’s kind of been that spark offensively for them. Anytime you’re doing that, you’re scoring points and it inspires your defense, inspires really your whole team to play a little bit harder knowing that you got an opportunity to go get a win.” —Scott Satterfield

—“It’s never too late to turn it around. That’s one thing that we’ve learned. A lot of those guys on that (2018) team were not too positive. Knowing what negativity can do when it’s already spiraling down, I just preach positivity and staying in the game, keeping your nose down and working, regardless if it’s a win or a loss.” —Dez Fitzpatrick

—“It’s just a game. I don’t get into stuff like that at all. What happened in the past, happened. I’m at a new school now and I’m with my boys.” —Florida State QB Jordan Travis

—”It’s great that we’re going to be able to play at home here for the next few weeks. It’s been a month away. That’s a long time for road games. I look at Notre Dame, they haven’t been on the road yet. We’re in the middle of October, they haven’t had a road game. For us to be able to stay at home here for the next few weeks, obviously we welcome that for sure.” —Scott Satterfield

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 29, Florida State 27

Up until Thursday night I was thinking we were going to lose this game. Then I realized this is the first time we’ll be playing an Atlantic Division game in 2020. This is the change of pace we needed. It’s happening.

Go Cards.