Florida State vs. USF- Game Preview

USF (1-0) Bio Flash:

Head Coach: Willie Taggart (3rd season, 7-18 record)

Returning Starters: 4 on Offense, 7 on Defense

Last Year’s Record: 4-8 (3-5 in the AAC)

Quick Analysis:

Entering the third year of the Willie Taggart era, USF fans are hopeful that he can lead the Bulls to their first bowl game since the 2010 season. USF has reeled in the highest rated recruiting class in the AAC the last two years, but with just eleven combined returning starters they have a tough road ahead of them for bowl eligibility. This is the second week in a row the ‘Noles will face a team that runs an up-tempo spread attack. The starting quarterback for the Bulls, Sophomore Quinton Flowers, is a lot more athletic than Texas State’s Tyler Jones and could give Florida State’s defense fits. The offensive line lost three starters, but USF managed to amass 275 yards in their opening win against Florida A&M. This is in huge part to Bull’s running back and last year’s AAC Rookie of the Year Marlon Mack, who rushed for 131 yards last week. Expect the majority of USF’s plays to be runs, having rushed 46 times last week to only 26 passes. Defensively, the Bulls’ strength is their front seven, and are projected to put up similar numbers to last years unit. With FSU’s offensive talent, they should be able to do whatever they please against USF. There is just too much athleticism on the ‘Noles offense for the Bulls to handle.

4 Things 2 Watch:

1) More Elaborate Pass Plays

As Golson gets more comfortable with Florida State’s playbook, expect Jimbo to test the senior’s ability to hit tougher throws. He showed great decision making and poise in the first game and made all the right reads for the most part. Golson is a better passer than people give him credit for, and big plays like this dart to Ja’Vonn Harrison could become customary:

2) The Dynamic Duo

Early on, FSU leaned heavy on the run and it payed off as Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender combined for 248 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. If Pender and Cook can both stay healthy this season the ‘Noles will have one of the best running back duos in the country. With stud fullback Freddie Stevenson leading the way, the ‘Noles could see two 1,000 yard rushers this season. Look for them to do more of this against USF this Saturday:

3) Special Teams

Jimbo Fisher expressed his discontent with Aguayo on kickoffs against Texas State. In addition, Cason Beatty looked like his old self, averaging 36 yards on three punts. Marquez White muffed a punt and Texas State recovered it to set up good field position. The only bright spot was kick off returns, in which Jalen Ramsey and Kermit Whitfield looked dangerous every time the ball came near them. The punt return job looks to be secured by Bobo Wilson moving forward, and only time will tell if Beatty can fix his punting woes.

4) Derwin James and Josh Sweat

Although they didn’t play much early on, their impact was still felt when they were in. Sweat seemed to be disrupting the backfield when he was in whereas Derwin James did a little bit of everything. Look for them to have their playing time increase as the season wears on. Here’s Derwin James’ fumble recovery, in which Sweat helped force:

Twitter Questions:

This is a new segment in which Nole Gameday will answer the questions you tweet at us every week. Pay attention for next week’s tweet asking for questions.

From Noah (@noahanthony77): what’s FSU’s biggest adjustment to this game? 

The biggest adjustment the ‘Noles will have to make is on defense, to cater to Quentin Flowers’ running ability. Flowers racked up 63 yards on just nine carries, including a 29 yard touchdown run. Expect the ‘Noles to spy a linebacker or send Tyler Hunter on more creative blitzes from the Star position to confuse Flowers and keep him in the pocket.

From Cayla Powell (@caylaelise): Why is the game scheduled for 11:30 in the morning? 

This is the question that every Florida State fan has been asking, and the answer is: College Gameday is being cut a half hour short to accommodate the U.S. Open’s Women Singles title match to be played before the prime time Michigan State v. Oregon game. Therefore the FSU game will start thirty minutes before the normal early kickoff game time.

From Karilyn Murray (@KarilynM21): who do you think will prosper/grow more in this game? 

From a playbook standpoint, Golson should take steps in running more elaborate passing plays as aforementioned. Ryan Izzo is a guy who can have a huge impact this year, especially since Golson loved throwing to his tight ends at Notre Dame. Defensively, look for who Defensive Coordinator Charles Kelly puts in at the two defensive end spots on third and long. It is important for the ‘Noles to establish pass rushers early on in the season.


Although USF is slightly better than Texas State, this should be another walk in the park for Florida State. They may be only up by a couple possessions at halftime, but should pull away in the third quarter again. It is important for the ‘Noles to try and get some consistency ahead of the Boston College game, and truly dominate the game in all four quarters. Most of the opening game kinks should be figured out, and FSU should cruise to an easy win. The prediction for this week is 62-27. Expect USF to put up some points because of their dynamic quarterback Flowers and stud running back Mack, but not enough to compete with the ‘Noles. Remember, after Saturday the ‘Noles head to Boston College for some Friday night lights.



Leave a Reply