Football’s game against Florida State isn’t as high stakes as it was last year, but there is still plenty of pressure on this game. Both teams have fallen from graces and are looking for a win to turn their season around.
We reached out to Flordia State’s student newspaper FSView to talk with Michael Hubak, who covers the Seminoles.
Question: Let’s start with the obvious. How big of a loss was losing Deondre Francois so early? What have you seen from James Blackman?
Answer: Anytime a starting quarterback goes down, especially one of Francois’ talent and leadership level, it is a big loss to a football team. For an 18 year-old, true freshman that has been on campus since June and has been thrown into one of the biggest pressure situations in all of college football, James Blackman has sufficed. He’s done everything Jimbo Fisher could ask him to do, and that’s saying a lot, because Fisher is really coaching him with a “baptism by fire” approach. He’s got the arm, and he’s got the mobility. Better decision making should come with time.
Q: How has the offense’s identity shifted since the loss of Francois?
A: Heavier workload on the running game, and more play calling designed to get wide receivers open quickly. The interesting thing is that the identity crisis of this offense at times has had nothing to do with Francois’ injury.
A make-shift offensive line has played inconsistently. Injuries have compiled all over the place. Wide receivers like Nyquan Murray have yet to shine.
FSU seems to have found some sort of identity with their running game in the win against Duke. When that element isn’t there, it’s hard to give the offense any characterization.
Q: Florida State might be the best 2-3 team in the nation. Summarize their three losses. Is there a common theme?
A: Inefficiency in the red zone, special teams woes, and not being able to get off the field on third down defensively. These were the key contributors to each loss. Even in their two victories, against Wake Forest and Duke, these weaknesses almost forced the team to burst at the seams and forfeit supposedly cupcake games.
Q: Cam Akers leads the team in carries. How does he compare to Dalvin Cook as a freshman to this point?
A: Like Cook, true freshman Cam Akers has seen playing time increase while a veteran running back, Jacques Patrick, still tries to differentiate himself from the pack (Karlos Williams was that veteran back in 2014). Akers is shifty, strong, and slippery. While it’s way too early to compare Akers to FSU’s all-time leading rusher, he shows those flashes of turning a “nothing” play into a significant gain. Cook did that all the time, and if Akers keeps up this pace, I can already hear those, “Just give it to Dalvin” chants resurfacing with a different name.
Q: FSU’s trademark is their defense. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Who are key names outside of Derwin James and Josh Sweat?
A: Derrick Nnadi — defensive tackle, 6-foot-1, 310 lbs. Tavarus McFadden — led the nation in interceptions last season.
Nnadi is a beast in the run-stop element of the defense, and that is one of the unit’s strengths. Their biggest weakness is getting off the field on third down, and there’s blame to go around – from coaching, to the secondary, to missed tackles.
Q: Score prediction and reasoning.
A: Louisville is the better team coming into this matchup, despite their string of recent losses. They should come into Tallahassee and out-play, out-coach, and out-work the Seminoles.
But they won’t.
Florida State will get back to .500, and force the Cardinals back to .500, by playing their hearts out on defense and taking advantage of a Louisville team that will be looking to salvage their season in Doak Campbell Stadium.
FSU – 27 | UL – 23
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal