NoleGameday

Game Preview: Florida State vs South Florida

USF (3-0) Bio Flash:

Head Coach: Willie Taggart

Last year’s Record: 8-5

Key Players: QB Quinton Flowers, RB Marlon Mack, CB Deatrick Nichols, LB Auggie Sanchez

Game Introduction:

Florida State is looking to move on after suffering the fourth-worst lost in school history to Louisville last Saturday. That task will not be easy, however. USF comes in riding a red-hot undefeated start, including a 45-20 dismantling of Syracuse last week. Both teams return to the state of Florida this week, where the Seminoles haven’t lost since 2012. The game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and kickoff is at noon on ABC.

Headlines:

Florida State looks to bounce back as a team

Last week was a tough pill to swallow for FSU. Not just for the players, but for the coaches and fans as well. As bad of a performance as it was, the blame shouldn’t be pinned down to one position group. Yes, the offensive line played bad but the defense as a unit missed an abundance of open field tackles. FSU got beat in all facets of the game on Saturday. How they bounce back this week will be very telling of what this team is made of.

Wanted: 2015 Dalvin Cook

What happened? Cook looks nothing like he does a season ago, even though Head Coach Jimbo Fisher claims he’s healthy. Cook looks no where near as explosive as last year, and seems almost uncertain of his running ability at times. He’s not just playing poorly in the run game either. His pass protection was awful on Saturday and his passing routes looked lazy. Dalvin Cook has been the biggest mystery for the ‘Noles so far in 2016, and only time will tell if he can return to form.

USF wants to make statement

As Jameis would say, USF “ain’t no pupies”. They have drastically improved since they played Florida State a year ago, and Bulls Head Coach Willie Taggart has done a fantastic job of righting the ship in Tampa. They’re off to a fiery start in 2016, thanks in part to the great play from QB Quinton Flowers. The Bulls currently rank 15th in the country in total yards, and are 6th nationally in total points. RB Marlon Mack has also been a stud on offense for USF, but he’s been dealing with a concussion that may cause him to be limited. USF knows how to put up points, the only question is can they do it against Florida State?

Burning Questions:

What is the mental state of the ‘Noles after Louisville?

College football experts and analysts love to talk about a team’s psyche, especially after a loss like FSU suffered last week. Will the ‘Noles come out flat once again, or can they move on from the embarrassing loss? Pay close attention to the players’ body language, especially in pre-game. If Florida State can play confident early, USF is going to have a tough time hanging in this game.

Can the Seminoles contain Quenton Flowers without Derwin James?

Dual threat quarterbacks have been FSU’s Achilles’ heel as of late, and they’ll be facing another talented one on Saturday in Quinton Flowers. Last year, Derwin James took the responsibility of spying on dual threat QB’s and did a pretty good job on Flowers and Lamar Jackson. Without James, FSU Defensive Coordinator Charles Kelly will have to find someone to step up. True Freshman CB Levonta Taylor seems like the most viable option because of his athleticism. If USF gets off to a fast start offensively like Ole Miss and Louisville did, Kelly is going to have to make some major adjustments. If dual threat quarterbacks continue to be a problem for the ‘Noles, Kelly’s future could be in jeopardy.

Will Auden Tate and Jacques Patrick see an expanded role Saturday?

There were a few bright spots for FSU on Saturday, and two of them were Auden Tate and Jacques Patrick. Tate only caught two balls for 32 yards, but they both went for touchdowns. Meanwhile Patrick led all rushers with 79 yards on just seven carries, including a beautiful 41-yard run. Tate should get a lot more playing time this week, and not just be utilized as a red zone weapon. Patrick may also start seeing more carries if he continues to run like he did on Saturday. Whether these two see an expanded role is up to Coach Fisher, but change of some sorts needs to come after last week’s performance.

Forecast:

A lot of analysts and experts have put FSU on upset alert this week. I just don’t see it though. Yes, USF has improved a lot and come into this game undefeated, but they still have a long way to go to reach the talent level of Florida State. Last week, Florida State got simply out-coached and out-played. I think the loss will serve as fuel for the ‘Noles, and they’ll come out with a lot of energy. This will be the first big game where FSU starts fast, and in the end will wear down the Bulls. I think the ‘Noles win comfortably 37-24 behind the arm of Deondre Francois. I wouldn’t completely rule out an upset, as the Seminoles could come out flat, but I really don’t think that will happen. The ‘Noles will be alright come Saturday.

 

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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