Mike Norvell has a record of 3-9 since taking over at FSU and though he is an offensive coach, fans have started to turn their attention to the defensive side of the football. Adam Fuller seems to have worn out his welcome after the Jacksonville State debacle as well as Wake Forest scoring at will the following week. Fuller has some things working for him, but a major improvement is needed.
The front for FSU remains the strength of the defense even after losing some high-level talent from last year’s team. Jermaine Johnson could be one of the best defensive players Louisville sees this season. The Georgia transfer leads the country in sacks and sits second in tackles for loss. At 6-5/265, he is the prototype for an edge player and he plays with the level of effort you need at the position. He will chase plays and he will set the edge with force. He has also been relentless as a pass rusher. He will be another great test for the Offensive Line.
Keir Thomas mans the spot opposite Johnson and he is another big player that Louisville will have to find a way to work around. They did a great job going at UCF’s bigger and less dynamic Defensive End last week but Thomas is a much more skilled player. Robert Cooper and Fabien Lovett are the big Nose Tackles that Cole Bentley will have to control. Cooper is massive at 6-2/338. Dennis Briggs is the other big player up front. Briggs will be a key player in the running game as he can really get up the field and disrupt things.
The Linebackers for the Noles are solid but they haven’t made very many impact plays so far this season. Kalen DeLoach and Amari Gainer are both veteran players while DJ Lundy is in his second year. It feels a little weird seeing FSU with no real difference makers at the Linebacker position but they’ve been a bit down at this spot for the last few years. Gainer is a solid player on the outside while Lundy will stick his nose in there against the run. I think that the passing game could take advantage of this group. They just aren’t that type of dynamic athlete you usually see at FSU. Also, keep an eye out for Stephen Dix. He plays a good amount as a backup.
One area that FSU has continued to recruit well is the secondary. However, this group is probably playing about as poorly as any group on the team. The talent and athleticism stand out when you watch them play but they’ve dropped interceptions, missed a lot of tackles, and we all saw how poorly they can cover. Travis Jay has been pretty solid at one Cornerback spot but Jarvis Brownlee has really struggled with just keeping up with his man as well as actually defending passes that come his way.
FSU plays a lot of man coverage and I think Louisville will challenge these guys down the field some. Jammie Robinson and Kevin Knowles play the nickel for FSU and both have had good moments as well as bad. Fuller will not only play man but he will press and he trusts these guys to be able to keep up with whoever is in front of them. That didn’t work at all last year when Tutu Atwell went off but UofL doesn’t have a guy with that type of speed. I do think that Louisville will look to work the ball down the middle of the field against this secondary.
FSU will be without their starting Strong Safety to start the game due to targeting. Sydney Williams will be out until halftime and we should likely see Brenden Gant get the start. The best player in the secondary, in my opinion, is Akeem Dent. He’s a good athlete but just like the guys at Linebacker, he hasn’t made enough big plays. He and Renardo Green split time at the Free Safety spot. We could see some changes with Williams being out, though.