Three key matchups for FSU against Louisville

After a pair of embarrassing losses at the hands of Georgia Tech and Miami, many fans were ready to give up on Mike Norvell and Florida State earlier this season. Fast forward to mid-October, and the Seminole fan base is reeling with excitement after a 31-28 upset victory over fifth ranked North Carolina.  The team will look to continue their success this Saturday, as they travel to take on 1-4 Louisville.

I touched on three matchups that will be key if FSU hopes to improve its record to .500 heading into the bye week.  

1. Javian Hawkins vs FSU Rush Defense 

The FSU defense made strides in stopping the run against the Tar Heels a week ago. Louisville rushes for 161.4 yards per game, and Javian Hawkins has produced two 100 yard games in five games. Hawkins rushed for over 1000 yards a season ago, and currently leads the team with 519 yards and three touchdowns. Joshua Kaindoh, Janarius Robinson, and the rest of the defensive ends will have to set the edge to help combat the speed and home run ability of Hawkins. True freshman Stephen Dix Jr., who led the defense in tackles with nine, will now operate as the starting linebacker alongside Emmett Rice. Amari Gainer, Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, and Travis Jay have all separated themselves as players willing to stop the run, and that performance should continue this week. 

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2. Jashaun Corbin/Jordan Travis/La’Damian Webb vs Louisville Rush Defense

This specific matchup sets up perfectly, with FSU entering with a clear advantage. The Cardinals defense is ranked second to last in rush defense. They are giving up 171.8 yards per game, while FSU is averaging 181.3 rushing yards in their last three games. Those three games happen to be where Travis has either started or played the majority. With his rushing ability, Travis brings an entirely different dynamic to the ‘Noles running game. In the RPO, Travis can read the defense, make the right decision, and threaten the defense in a way the previous Seminole quarterbacks could not. The emergence of La’Damian Webb has been a warm welcome. Travis and Webb were both able to eclipse 100 yards against UNC, and I would not be surprised to see another 100 yard rusher versus Louisville. Insert the bruiser with Jashaun Corbin, and the ‘Noles rushing attack could shape up for a significant day against a subpar Cardinals defense. 

3. Tutu Atwell vs FSU Secondary

Tutu Atwell is the clear number one weapon in the Louisville passing game. The 5’9, 165lbs slot receiver leads the team in receptions (29), yards (321), and touchdowns (4). It will be intriguing to see which defensive back is put on the speedy receiver. Asante Samuel Jr has been arguably the most impressive defensive back in the country. However, Samuel Jr is not asked to guard the slot. Jarvis Brownlee Jr., who played well against UNC, will likely find himself tasked with the job. Safeties Renardo Green and Travis Jay could also see some action on Atwell. Overall, the entire secondary must keep tabs on Atwell, because if not, he could change the game with a few big plays.

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