Mike Norvell entered this season on a bit of a hot seat but with a primetime win over LSU on the road, he has set himself up well to keep his job and potentially have a big season. The Seminoles are riding a solid running game, improved offensive line play, and a dynamic dual-threat quarterback to impressive offensive performances. Louisville will have their hands full trying to slow them down.
Jordan Travis returns as the FSU starting quarterback and is now in his 15th season of college football. All jokes aside, Travis has matured into a very good passer who can utilize his legs to hurt you. Where he is at his best is when he can’t find an open receiver and he improvises. Once he’s in the open field he can run away from people for huge plays or first downs. Louisville will have to force Travis to prove that he can be a consistent passer in the pocket.
The Noles running game is likely the best UofL will face this year and I’m not sure it's really close. They use three running backs in a rotation and all three are averaging at least 55 yards per game. Treshuan Ward leads the way and he is a very shifty and fast back that does a great job of making defenders miss. Trey Benson is their big back and he led the country in forced miss tackles two weeks ago as he just ran through people over and over again. Lawrance Toafili has a nice balance of power and shiftiness.
All three of these guys could go off if Louisville doesn’t defend the run like they did in the second half last week. There has to be an investment in stopping these running backs before they get started. I would expect UofL to bring more guys into the box and play downhill to get into running lanes.
The receivers for FSU have been solid but not overwhelmingly explosive so far this season. Mycah Pittman was their biggest addition in the portal and he’s done a good job of being a consistent target in the slot. Pittman has big play speed but also does a good job of making people miss. Onteria Wilson put up two impressive touchdowns against LSU two weeks ago. He is the main concern for me, personally. Wilson is savvy and fast so he can get open against man coverage.
Johnny Wilson has been utilized as a deep threat so far. The 6-7 wideout can obviously make plays on contested throws but he has also been able to get behind defenses. FSU uses play action well, so UofL can’t bite on the run and let him get a step on the defense. Cam McDonald is back at tight end this year and he has been a favorite target for Travis. The Cards need to get off the field on defense so letting the tight end make plays on third downs can’t happen.
The offensive line has been a weakness for FSU for about six years now but it looks to be a strength this season. PFF grades FSU as the best rushing team in the country and the offensive line is a key reason for that. They do a great job of clearing space for the backs and one thing that has stood out to me is the way that they hold their blocks into the second level. This will be the key to the game, in my opinion. Louisville has to find a way to be disruptive and they have to force some negative plays. However, that’s what FSU does so well to avoid as a unit.