After deflating the energy in the ‘Bounce House’ the Cards finally return home to Cardinal Stadium for the first time in what feels like 292 days...give or take a day. The home opener for the Cards this year is no FCS opponent or coach-less chum they can husk (GBR?) but none other than conference foe Florida State University.
This week I’m joined by our SB Nation friends over at ‘Tomahawk Nation’ who were kind enough to answer a few questions for me and relive some very painful moments in the history of the program for no other reason than my personal enjoyment (I think we’ll all enjoy it). Sit back, prop your feet up, and let your eyes peruse the thoughts of Perry Kostidakis...it’s dark, and wet for some unknown reason. Let’s get weird.
Welp, here we go again. Back in 2014 when the Cards joined the ACC if you told me some of the best/most exciting games during their first eight seasons would be against FSU I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you really pressed me on it I would have thought for sure the Cards must have made a dramatic rise in talent and notoriety in the sport to compete at that level, which also hasn’t really happened. So while I see the 4-4 record the last eight seasons, the “4” on the Cards side appears a bit bigger to me in terms of notable wins than the “4” on the Noles side. Am I just a homer, or does it seem fairly balanced to you?
Oh, it’s felt like 20 years of matchups, not eight, and it has absolutely felt firmly in Louisville’s favor. The first game in 2014 was an absolute thriller (Jameis Winston throwing an interception then forcing a fumble less than 15 seconds later is indicative of that), but then 2016 I think turned the tide in a major way. Louisville has pretty much had FSU’s number in football these past few years, and it would be a 5-1 record since 2016 if there wasn’t that random late Jawon Pass interception in 2018.
(stares blanking at the wall for 5 minutes thinking about the Jawon interception).
Speaking of quarterbacks...the QB1 position for the Noles is no stranger to Louisville as Jordan Travis was a freshman fighting for early playing time behind Jawon ‘Puma’ Pass back in 2018. Travis eventually got beat out for that spot by another young buck from Alabama named
Malik Micale Cunningham. Travis has been a bit spotty over the last couple years from an outsider’s perspective (he didn’t play against UofL last year) but it appears he has settled in nicely toward the end of ‘21 and early this year. What can we expect to see from the ex-Card on Friday night?
If his progression is legit, then you can expect to see a pretty balanced attack from him despite the “athlete” tag he’s earned for his on-the-ground exploits. He really showcased his arm talent against LSU — most encouragingly, he did it through the middle of the field. FSU’s receivers have been the main question mark in the passing game over the last few years, but the transfer portal helped solidify things a little bit there. Travis can pull off some amazing things with his legs, but hasn’t quite had his “bouncing the ball to himself to score a touchdown” moment this year.
Speaking of Malik, he had one of his better games last year against FSU going for over 300 AP yards and four scores. What kind of looks can we expect to see from FSU this week to try and slow him down from what they’ve seen in seasons past?
Expect a spy on him for the bulk of the game — likely linebacker Kalen DeLoach. The Seminoles have been plagued by running quarterbacks since, well, Lamar Jackson stole the program’s soul, and while that has gotten plugged up a bit by improvements to the linebacker room and defensive line, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels was still able to do some damage in week one.
Florida State, for the first time since 2015, is breaking out a new helmet design as they go “all-white” to contrast the “Red Out” on the Cards side. What do you think of the all-white look? More of a traditionalist or okay with them deviating from time to time?
I am a millennial, so I am always in favor of ridiuclous, gaudy changes to uniforms. Really what I’m confused about is — Louisville fans are doing a red out, but the team is doing a black out? So you guys just get to double dip like that? It doesn’t seem fair.
Cards are going with black pants, but the jersey release showed they’re rocking the red tops tomorrow, so we’re all on the same page....except for that one guy who’ll wear a yellow shirt so his fake girlfriend up in Ohio can see him on TV. Don’t be that guy. Now that we are officially in Week 3 the question about overall health of the team starts to become a legitimate factor in how games may play out. The Cards are down NT transfer Jermayne Lole for the season but otherwise fairly healthy. How do the Noles look coming off a bye week, and if healthy, who are some of the standouts we should look for that you may not have mentioned yet?
After losing projected starting center Kayden Lyles to a season-ending injury, FSU officially announced another lineman will miss the year in Bless Harris. There’s some minor questions along the defensive line that haven’t been addressed and likely won’t be until game time, but overall, FSU is doing relatively well in the health department.
The running back room is probably the deepest on the team, and while the Seminoles didn’t exactly tear it up on the ground vs. LSU, the versatility in each of the three backs likely to see time on Friday (Treshaun Ward, Trey Benson and Lawrance Toafili) has the potential to cause a few frustrations on the Louisville sideline.
If you ask the typical UofL fan to name their Top 5 games all time at Cardinal Stadium there is a decent possibility that two of them are against FSU. The 2002 monsoon, and 2016 Heisman game. While Louisville fans can reminisce of that success, the truth of the matter is this matchup is still fairly one sided overall at 16-6 in favor of FSU. Do we see the 2022 matchup revert back to the scores of old where FSU handled business consistently, or do the Cards creep one win closer, trying to close that gap? How does this one go down on what is forecasted to be a beautiful Friday night in the Derby city?
Outside of the 2020 blowout and 2016 eradication, FSU and Louisville have been part of some relatively close games since the Cardinals joined the ACC and I really don’t see how that changes this week unless one team has one of “those” games and just seriously falters. Does Malik Cunningham pick up where he left off in the second half vs. UCF/vs. FSU last year while the Seminoles look how they did in the final minutes against LSU, rather than the whole game? Will FSU’s improved depth and elevated offensive attack prove to be real, forcing Louisville to deal with a Jordan Travis who can hurt you through the air while trying to stop the first trio in FSU history to register 100 rushing yards in a single game?
The answer to me is in between both of those hypotheticals, which is why I see it being a 3-6 point margin of victory. FSU seems to have taken that next step towards being competitive in the ACC again, and I feel like a weird 31-26 game seems right.
Big thanks to Perry for having the courage to talk about 2016 and 2020. The couch is always open if you need to get more off your chest, bud. Here’s hoping we add 2022 to the psychiatrist notepad and Malik turns into the guy we expected to see in his last ride. Speaking of notepads...go take some notes on what to expect from the Noles tomorrow over at ‘Tomahawk Nation’, and while you’re there check out my appearance on the ‘Line of Scrimmage’ podcast where we talk about everything from the ‘Cuse game making me go nuts to state fair cheesy donuts. It’s a wild 25 minute ride. Go Cards.