FSU vs UL: Five Things We Learned on Offense

There’s not much more that can be said about the Louisville game that has not been said already.

Florida State suffered one of the worst losses in program history on Saturday. From offense to defense to special teams, the Seminoles were outmatched and outmuscled from the opening snap. Credit to the Louisville coaching staff for coming up with an excellent game plan and the players for executing on the field. This is one of those games that you re-watch once, and then stash away forever.

In real time, Florida State’s offense looked lost, disorganized and confused. Upon re-watching the game, there are several things that stood out on tape that we might not have picked up during live action.

1. Deondre Francois is still a freshman.

Perhaps the hype surrounding Deondre Francois can be tuned down a bit. Several sites had the redshirt freshman on Heisman watch lists prior to this game. But Francois is still a freshman and Saturday’s game was just his third career start. At times, he looked lost. He vacated clean pockets, he missed open receivers and had a costly turnover that lead to a Louisville score early in the game. These are all things that you expect from a freshman quarterback. Moving forward, expectations have to be tempered for Francois. Yes, he was amazing versus Ole Miss but that was not a performance that you can expect on a week to week basis. He is still learning and developing. There will be highs and lows to his first season as a starter.

2. Rick Leonard is struggling mightily.

Rick Leonard moved to offensive tackle this offseason after spending two seasons at defensive tackle. And that’s what he looks like right now, a player who is still learning how to play a new position. Ole Miss routinely targeted Leonard and he struggled in pass protection. This game was no different. Leonard struggled with pass protection and assignments as well. Louisville knew that he was a liability and they exploited him. Simple as that. Right now, the Leonard experiment at offensive tackle is not going well.

3. Landon Dickerson had some true freshman moments.

For a player ranked as a five-star recruit, Landon Dickerson is still a true freshman. That showed at times versus Louisville. While his ceiling is still very high and he projects to be a very good player down the line, Dickerson missed some assignments on Saturday and got beat a few times. These are all things that the coaching staff has to accept when playing a true freshman on the offensive line. Beyond that, a true freshman who did not enroll early and is still learning the blocking scheme. So while Dickerson will most likely be a stud in the future, expect more true freshman mistakes assuming that he keeps his starting job at right guard.

4. Auden Tate needs to play more.

We know that Jimbo Fisher values consistency above all else at the wide receiver position. Run the right routes, be in the right place and catch the ball consistently and then you’ll see playing time. But the physical mismatch that Auden Tate presents at the college level is something that Fisher needs to take advantage of. Simply put, there are not many players in college right now who are able to match up one-on-one against a 6-5, 220-pound receiver and win against him when the ball is in the air. We saw this on the jump ball that Tate caught in the end zone (albeit in garbage time) versus Louisville. Fisher needs to take advantage of Tate’s size and use him as a red zone and third down weapon on a consistent basis.

5. Dalvin Cook is not healthy.

Simply put, Dalvin Cook is not 100% healthy. It looks as if he is still feeling the effects from that offseason shoulder surgery and is actively avoiding contact to that shoulder. We speculated about this after the Ole Miss game and it became especially apparent versus Louisville. Cook was not willing to stick his shoulder in there in pass protection and seems to be running timidly as well. He showed flashes of “2015 Cook” when hitting the edge and running around people, but does not run with the same determination and physicality that he did last season. This is a serious problem for Florida State, because Cook is perhaps the most important player on offense and a player that the Seminoles were expecting to rely upon while breaking in a freshman quarterback. We will have to see moving forward if Fisher continues to run Cook or if Jacques Patrick will get more reps.

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