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NoleGameday

Florida State vs Northern Illinois Game Preview

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Game Introduction:

Florida State enters Saturday trying to avoid pouring more gasoline on the dumpster fire start to the season. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack of Northern Illinois look to build off of the confidence gained from last week’s win over Central Michigan. Both teams enter the game at 1-2, and both will be looking to right the ship after disappointing starts to the season. It is parents weekend at Florida State and kickoff is (surprisingly) not at noon. The game will be on ESPNU at 3:30.

Headlines:

FSU Offensive Line has been Abysmal

Really weird, but no one has been talking about Florida State’s offensive line. You’ve probably read a million takes from FSU beat writers and fans by now, all of them ranging from everything’s fine to start prepping the bomb shelter. While offensive line coach Greg Frey has tried his hardest, the truth is Florida State doesn’t have the keys in place to produce a solid offensive line this year. Former head coach Jimbo Fisher left Willie Taggart and his staff scraps, and injuries along the scraps haven’t helped the cause. Coach Taggart personally coached the o-line this week in position drills, so keep an eye out for how they perform on Saturday. If you weren’t already doing that. Because you should be.

High Tempo Offense has Yielded Low Scoring Results

Every cause has an effect. Much optimism was created in the offseason about what new head coach Willie Taggart’s offense brings to the table, but the offense has been handicapped due to an inept offensive line. There have been sparks, creative formations, and plays that have almost gone the distance. But with the offensive line woes, this offense won’t be as well oiled as it should. If you need encouragement, look at what Taggart did on offense at both Western Kentucky and USF after his first year.

Burning Questions:

How much can the defense bend before it breaks?

The defense has been superb so far this season, however, the `Noles offense can’t seem to stay on the field. In both the VT and Syracuse games, the defense played extremely well until they broke in the second half. The defense has a top-20 starting 11, but depth at certain positions make it hard to sustain elite play. Florida State has been awful in time of possession on offense, and the defense’s conditioning has certainly been tested because of this. The longer the offense keeps the ball on Saturday, the better the defense will perform.

Should James Blackman get a shot at QB?

While Deondre Francois certainly isn’t the main problem on offense, sometimes an offense needs a spark. Blackman has been awesome on the sidelines and has overall been an incredible teammate. There are countless examples of 1 being a selfless leader, even though he currently sits at two on the roster. In my opinion, Blackman deserves a shot if the offense comes out stale with Francois after three drives on Saturday. The end goal this season might be to redshirt Blackman, but with Bailey Hockman’s transfer to NC State, the `Noles may not have a choice. It will be interesting to see what the game plan with Blackman is come Saturday.

Forecast:

There isn’t enough alcohol in Tallahassee to simply drink this season off. Almost everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong. In my season preview, I said this season will not be all sunshine and rainbows like some had predicted. It has certainly been cloudy and rainy, but it is not all doom and gloom. The defense has played well, and a lot of freshmen on both sides of the ball have seen a lot of game time. With that said, Northern Illinois should be a team that Florida State handles with ease. They do not have the explosive air raid offense Samford does, and are nowhere near as talented as Syracuse and Virginia Tech. I think Florida State may come out stagnant on offense early, but eventually get it together, possibly through a spark provided by James Blackman. I’ll take the ‘Noles 31-13. Happy parents weekend everyone and hang in there. Everything’s going to be okay.


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