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Louisville vs. Florida State- Game Preview

Louisville (2-3, 1-1 in ACC) Bio Flash:

Head Coach: Bobby Petrino (6th non-consecutive year at Louisville, 52-16 record)

Key Players: QB Lamar Jackson, DB Josh Harvey-Clemons, TE Mickey Crum, DE Sheldon Rankins

Last Year’s Record: 9-4 (5-3 in the ACC)

Quick Analysis:

Do not let the Cardinal’s 2-3 record fool you, they are a much better team than the record shows. Each loss was within seven points, including a three point loss against then #11 Clemson. On offense, Louisville has perhaps the most athletic quarterback FSU will face in True Freshman Lamar Jackson. Jackson is very raw in the passing game, and will be limited when throwing the ball. However, as a runner Jackson is electric and dangerous in the open field. Aside from Jackson, the Louisville running backs have struggled this year, especially between the tackles. Louisville’s receiving corps were banged up early but returned veterans James Quick and Jamari Staples to strengthen this unit. Tight end Mickey Crum is a guy whose been quiet the past couple weeks, but can be a match-up nightmare. Defensively, they are led by three transfers, and have three different guys with two interceptions. One of those transfers, Josh Harvey-Clemons, has really come into his own this year. Harvey-Clemons typically plays safety, but he will occasionally line up as a Nickel corner for blitzing. Another guy who will have an impact for the Cards on defense is defensive end Sheldon Rankins. He is especially good in obvious passing situations, so it is crucial for the ‘Noles to avoid third and long.

4 Things 2 Watch:

1) Containing Lamar Jackson

Jackson loves to scramble on passing plays. While Louisville struggles on designed run plays, Jackson has a knack for making something out of nothing. Look for FSU to utilize Trey Marshall as a spy, or contain him using different edge blitz packages.

2) Play-Action Passes

Florida State has become a run first offense with the emergence of Dalvin Cook. Everett Golson has been incredibly efficient this season, and actually (according to David Hale of ESPN) leads all Power-5 quarterbacks with a 65.9% completion rate of throws 10 yards or more. While FSU’s offense has slowly evolved, taking more shots downfield with a hot quarterback could lead to more explosive plays. If nothing else, taking more shots downfield, particularly on play action, will stretch the defense and push the safeties back more. This will open up more running lanes and give Dalvin Cook more open field to do Dalvin Cook type things.

3) FSU’s D-Line

Last week, the ‘Noles defensive line, led by DeMarcus Walker, had a huge game. If they were not getting pressure on Brad Kayaa, they were swatting down balls at the line of scrimmage. They also swallowed up Miami’s rushing attack, allowing 20 yards on 19 carries for an average of 1.05 YPC. Expect the ‘Noles front four to be stout again, especially Walker.

4) LB Depth

This is the biggest concern for Florida State at this point in the season. Terrance Smith has been day to day this whole week, and even with Ro’Derrick Hoskins playing solid in his absence, the ‘Noles cannot afford a LB to get hurt. If Smith is unable to go, Reggie Northrup needs to have a big game in the tackling department. Most importantly though, FSU needs to stay healthy.

Forecast:

Louisville has three losses that were all one possession games and is coming off of their bye week. They have found a bright, young quarterback in Lamar Jackson and the defense knows how to force turnovers. While the Cardinals are a better team than they look on paper, they have glaring weaknesses that previous opponents have taken advantage of. Florida State’s defensive line should have a field day with Louisville’s questionable and inexperienced offensive line. In addition, if the ‘Noles run a similar game plan as they did against Miami, they should win this one without too much stress. Last week, Florida State scored their three touchdowns all outside the red zone. Inside the red zone, they settled for three field goals. If FSU can finish their drives, and not leave so many points on the board, they could win by a few possessions. But this is FSU, and based on their love of playing close games, this one will be a bit tighter than it probably should be. The prediction this week is 27-17 ‘Noles, and only because Florida State will again settle in the red zone for field goals. Interesting to note, Louisville’s kicker is 6/10 on the year, with two of those misses coming between 30-39 yards. If the game comes down to a field goal, it will be interesting to see how much Coach Petrino trusts his kicker. It should be another fantastic Saturday, with beautiful weather to accompany what looks like a great game.

Ben Brewton
Writer at Nole Gameday covering football and basketball. FSU alum. Follow me on twitter (@Ben_Brewton) and we can talk sports. On the 8th day, God created college football.

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