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Game Day: Louisville at Florida State

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Go Cards,

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

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-1, 0-0) at FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (0-3, 0-1)

Game Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Doak Campbell Stadium: Tallahassee, Fla.

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by-play), Mike Golic Jr. (analyst) and Taylor McGregor (sideline)

Favorite: Louisville by 1

All-Time Series: Florida State leads, 16-5

Last Meeting: Louisville won 48-16 on Oct. 24, 2020 in Louisville

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Florida State Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

Excitement Level: 8.1

I don’t care what their record is, FSU games are always easy to get up for. When you’re facing them to kick off ACC play a week after your most exciting win in years? Well, it’s doubly true.

Game Attire: Red Cardinal bird head polo

I’m out of town this weekend and forgot to bring the Heisman bird t-shirt I wore last Friday. If we lose, it’s on me.

Pregame Meal: Pizza

1-0 this year.

Bold Prediction: A Louisville running back rushes for over 100 yards

Probably Jalen Mitchell.

Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Peach (bad)

Alert Level is not feeling it this week.

Predicted Star of the Game: Jalen Mitchell

Let’s own the trenches and let the young man go nuts.

About Florida State:

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Mike Norvell took the Florida State job and the Seminoles fanbase had high hopes for the high-powered offensive system that he won with at Memphis. That hasn’t been the case so far as Florida State has more turnovers than touchdowns in 2021 and the offense still can’t utilize the talent they have at their skilled positions.

FSU has been underwhelming at Quarterback for the better part of a decade now but they may be in the worst position they’ve been in during that stretch. Jordan Travis is still extremely inconsistent while McKenzie Milton doesn’t have the mobility or arm strength he once had. Norvell is stuck in a situation where he has to play the lesser of two evils in a sense and it’s not working out so far.

Milton is a great story with his return from a catastrophic knee injury that I watched live and will never forget. However, he just isn’t the guy he was before the injury. Having a bulky brace on your plant leg makes it pretty hard to throw the football effectively as a Quarterback. Milton had to put everything he had into a throw last week just to throw the ball about 47 yards down the field. To me, it looked like that was the furthest he was going to get it down the field. That leads to limitations from a play-calling standpoint and that seems to be a big part of the issue for the Seminoles when he’s in the game.

The Quarterback that gives them the best chance to win is probably Jordan Travis. He uses his legs well which is necessary with the issues the Offensive Line has with blocking just about anyone. Travis also has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and throw the deep ball to his speedy receivers. The issue of course is that Travis can complete less than half of his passes in one game and then come back and be nearly perfect. You never know what you’re going to get. But he can extend plays and he can break off a big run so he adds a dimension to the offense that all teams like having.

After watching some games and looking over the stats, it’s really surprising to me that FSU doesn’t run the ball with their Running Backs more. Joshua Corbin and Treshuan Ward are averaging 7.2 yards per carry on the season and they also combine for about 150 yards per game. Both backs have good size and speed and FSU’s offense likes to work them on the edges to get them out in the open. I have also been impressed with Corbin’s patience at times. He has let blocks develop for him and then made people miss in the open field. These guys could make a big impact if Norvell sticks with the run.

FSU’s starters at Wide Receiver have been very underwhelming so far this season. The Noles have a veteran group of players but drops and lack of separation have stood out to me. Keyshawn Helton is the top option in the slot while Ontaria Wilson and Andrew Parchment are the starters on the outside. Wilson is coming off a game where he scored on a 60-yard touchdown on a deep go route. Helton has been pretty good in space but hasn’t been able to make a big play yet.

The backups at Wide Receiver have some nice upside. Malik McClain and Darion Williamson have shown some flashes early on and I think they could both be factors in the game this weekend. Cam McDonald and Jordan Wilson are also big targets at Tight End. They split both of them outside pretty regularly. Norvell also puts his Tailbacks out wide a good amount. Ja’Khi Douglass and Lawrance Toafili both see the field a lot. Douglass has a 65-yard touchdown catch while Toafili is the short-yardage back with 18 carries so far.

The oft-talked-about Florida State Offensive Line is still very inconsistent and still a major issue for how FSU’s offense plays as a whole. They have blocked the run very well from what I’ve seen and they do a good job blocking both inside runs and the outside runs with pulling guards and whatnot. This is one of the reasons I’ve been surprised that Norvell hasn’t just become a run-heavy offense. When it comes to pass blocking, I would say the FSU line is about as bad as it’s been for the last handful of years. This is where UofL has to take advantage. I could also see them having some success against those run plays with pullers. UofL could shoot gaps and disrupt things.

DEFENSE

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.

Notable:

—Florida State is off to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1976.

—The Seminoles haven’t started a season 0-4 since 1974.

—Louisville has lost six consecutive road games.

—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is just 2-8 in true road games. The Cards have lost six straight away from home and went 0-5 on the road in 2020.

—Louisville is 3-4 against Florida State since joining the ACC in 2014, including a 1-2 mark in Tallahassee.

—Louisville is 2-10 all-time against Florida State in games played in Tallahassee.

—FSU is tied for 3rd in the ACC and for 12th nationally with an average of 8.3 tackles for loss per game. Jermaine Johnson II ranks 1st in the NCAA with an average of 2.3 tackles for loss per game and is the only ACC defender averaging more than 2.0 TFLs per game.

—Florida State has recorded at least 8.0 tackles for loss in each of its first three games in 2021. The last time FSU had three consecutive games with at least 8.0 tackles for loss was in 2017.

—Louisville ranks 26th nationally in sacks allowed with 1.33 per game.

—Louisville is 3-4 all-time in ACC openers, but has lost three in a row.

—The Cardinals are 29-29 in ACC play since joining the league in 2014

—Florida State is in the midst of celebrating its 75th season of football.

—FSU is the only team with two rushers in the top-8 of the ACC in rushing yards per carry. Jashaun Corbin ranks 4th in the conference with an average of 7.57 yards per carry, and Treshaun Ward’s average of 6.76 yards per rush is 8th. Corbin’s average is 2nd in the conference and 13th nationally among rushers with at least 10 carries per game.

—Malik Cunningham is the first player in Louisville history to rush for at least five touchdowns in four separate seasons.

—FSU QB McKenzie Milton led UCF to a 27-6 record as a starter from 2016-18 and twice finished in the Top 10 for Heisman Trophy voting (6th in 2018, 8th in 2017). Milton’s 35 career starts are the 7th-most in the country among active quarterbacks.

—Milton’s backup, Jordan Travis, played for Louisville in 2018 before entering the transfer portal in the middle of the season. FSU’s third string QB, Chubba Purdy, was originally committed to Louisville.

—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 54-5 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 13-2 in such games under Satterfield, with the two losses coming last season against Miami and Virginia Tech.

—Louisville tight end Marshon Ford caught eight passes for a career-best 100 yards against UCF. Ford is the first Cardinals tight end to hit the 100-yard receiving mark since Cole Hikutini in 2016.

—Florida State was the youngest team in the nation in 2020, with 84 players (75 percent) on the roster consisting of freshmen or sophomores. Additionally, FSU had just 13 total seniors, the 6th-fewest in the nation. Head coach Mike Norvell dipped heavily into the transfer portal at the end of the season.

—Florida State currently leads the FBS in turnovers (10) and is 118th in penalties with 27 (for 233 yards).

—Under Scott Satterfield, Louisville is 11-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-12 when losing it.

—Louisville is 0-6 under Scott Satterfield when being held to 21 points or fewer.

—Louisville will honor former head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who died on March 27, with a helmet sticker that will be worn for the entirety of the 2021 season.

—Louisville is 11-1 under Scott Satterfield when leading at halftime, and 13-1 when leading at the end of the 3rd quarter.

—Louisville is 0-12 under Satterfield when trailing at the end of the 3rd quarter.

—Louisville kicker James Turner has made 10 consecutive field goals, the fourth longest streak of consecutive made field goals in U of L history. For his career, Turner is 15-for-15 on field goal attempts from less than 50 yards out. Turner’s only two career misses both came from 52 yards away.

—Louisville is 141-104-6 all-time during the month of September, including 5-5 in the month under Scott Satterfield.

Quotable:

—“We’re having to go through some painful moments. It’s challenging. We are a young team. We’ve got guys that are being put in positions where, with all the right intentions, are learning some tough, tough lessons that they haven’t experienced. And for us we can’t allow the pain of some of our failures to go wasted. We’ve got to learn the lessons and we got to apply the lessons.” —FSU head coach Mike Norvell

—”We know both quarterbacks’ strengths and weaknesses. We know how to game plan against them, we know what we’re getting out of each quarterback, we know who likes to do what. So when that time comes, we’re gonna have to just lineup, just play the call, and stop them from whatever their strengths is.” —Greedy Vance

“They’re a dynamic team. (Cunningham) can run like a receiver and throw as good as any quarterback.” —FSU DE Jermaine Johnson II

—“Malik Cunningham’s a challenge, but as you know we have our own running quarterback in Jordan Travis so we’ve seen what a quarterback like (Cunningham) can do,” —FSU DE Derrick McLendon.

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 34, Florida State 23