GAME PREVIEW: Florida State at Louisville

Game Introduction:

With basically half of the season behind us, The Seminoles are 2-3. However, both of the wins have come over the past three weeks as Florida State has begun to show signs of buy-in under new head coach Mike Norvell and his staff. The team will have a chance to get back to .500 on the road this weekend as they travel to Louisville to take on the 1-4 Cardinals, who have lost four straight games. Scott Satterfield has continued to make incremental progress with his program, though, it is clear that the rebuild might take a little longer than initially expected when he was brought in from Appalachian State.

Last season, FSU defeated UL 35-24 in Tallahassee as Cam Akers scored three touchdowns on the ground.

The ‘Noles and Cards will kick off at noon on ESPN3.

Seminole Headlines:

Florida State’s defense looks to show it can be consistent against Louisville

After a disappointing first four games of the season, FSU’s defense finally came alive last weekend against North Carolina. The ‘Noles recorded four sacks in the game (after having just three up to that point) and eight tackles for loss while holding the Tar Heels to 2/12 on third down and 0/3 on fourth down. It was an impressive showing against one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire country. Moving into this game on the road against Louisville, it’s going to be imperative for the defensive unit to bring that same intensity and focus. They’ve got to prove they can be consistent and that last week wasn’t a fluke.

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Louisville boasts a solid rushing attack led by redshirt sophomore running attack Javian Hawkins, who is currently the nations fourth leading rusher. The Florida native has rushed 100 times, more than the rest of the roster combined, for 519 yards and three touchdowns in five games. He’s had at least 51 rushing yards in every appearance and has exploded for 150+ twice. Backup running back Hassan Hall and quarterback Malik Cunningham will also get some work in the Cardinals ground attack. This is an offense that is going to use the run to try and setup the passing game.

Speaking of the passing game, Louisville has a couple capable threats in wide receiver Tutu Atwell and tight end Marshon Ford. Atwell has caught 29 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns, tying him for the most on the team with Ford. Though his yard per catch average is down in 2020, it’s worth pointing out Atwell has caught a third of the teams total passes and that no other player has over 15 receptions. Ford has just 14 catches in five games but FOUR of them have gone for scores. We saw the linebackers struggle to contain North Carolina’s tight ends last week, they’ll need to be more adept in coverage against Ford.

Monitoring big-play potential for the Seminole offense on Saturday

Florida State’s offense was able to put together multiple big plays against North Carolina, helping lead to the upset. Last week, quarterback Jordan Travis completed four 30+ yard passes to four different receievers. Sophomore running back La’Damian Webb also had a 54-yard run in the third quarter. As we look at this matchup with the Cardinals, this is certainly an opportunity for the offense to go out and have a big day.

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Louisville has a middling defense that has been suspectible to getting burned through the first half of its schedule. The Cards have given up a whopping 12 30+ yard plays and didn’t hold an offense to under 20 points in a game until last week. They are coming off of some momentum from that performance on the road against Notre Dame so it’ll be important for FSU to establish its rhythm early in the contest. The passing game is still coming along without the presence of Tamorrion Terry but Ontaria Wilson, Keyshawn Helton, and Cam McDonald are players that will be relied on to step up.

Like the Cardinals, the Seminoles will look to generate success on the ground behind the tandem of Travis and Webb to open up the passing attack. Going up against his former team, Travis is going to want to prove himself even more. This just feels like a game where we’re going to see a couple long touchdowns.

Burning Questions:

Can Florida State win the turnover battle?

Louisville has simply not done a very good job of taking care of the ball on offense. The Cardinals have lost 6 fumbles and thrown five interceptions in five games, while also not forcing many on the other end, leading to a -8 differential. On the other hand, Florida State does have a -2 turnover margin but the Seminoles have only turned the ball over three total times in the past three weeks. Ball security has clearly been a priority for Mike Norvell and his team is beginning to show it. In fact, no running back on the team or Travis have lost a fumble yet in 2020.

The Florida State defense has forced at least one turnover in every game this season which included a pick-six by Joshua Kaindoh last week against North Carolina. The Seminoles also blocked two punts, one which was returned 18 yards, which is essentially a turnover as well. Louisville has forced just three turnovers all season.

Will the early start play a factor for the ‘Noles?

It’s worth bringing up that the noon start on the road against Louisville will be the earliest kickoff for Florida State so far this season by 3.5 hours. The Seminoles have played two late afternoon games and three Saturday night primetime matchups. Simply put, the preparation is a lot different and the routine that the team has leading up to the opening kickoff will be trunctuated by an early start. It’s important to remember that these players are real people that can be affected by change. They’ll have to wake up earlier with less time to get in their mindset before this game with the Cardinals.

It’ll be something interesting to monitor early on. Though, we have heard a lot about how Norvell has prepared this team for a lot of different situations, as with the lightning delay against Georgia Tech earlier this year. I’m sure Florida State will be ready for the adjustment.


It felt like Florida State sort of got over a bump in the road last week in its upset win over North Carolina. A lot of times over the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen this program fold in the face of adversity and find more ways to lose games than win them. This team finally showed that it can play up to elite competition and that goes a long way in bringing back some confidence that these players have clearly been missing. The Seminoles played with intensity and focus from the get-go, never letting up.

I think they’ll come out with a similiar mindset in Louisville, knowing they’re the underdog and that this is a chance to earn their first road win of the season. Both teams will make some plays on offense but FSU’s defense will do enough to limit the Cardinals in the end.

Florida State 31, Louisville 20.

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