Florida State will be sending out its 3rd new QB in 3 years to face the Louisville Cardinals. Deondre Francois (6’2, 205) is Florida State’s redshirt freshman Quarterback. Francois has been superb thus far while completing 69% of his passes for 680 yards, 5 Total TDs and just one Interception. Deondre Francois will be making his first true road start (Ole Miss game was neutral site in Orlando) so it will be interesting to see how the freshman deals with the hostile crowd and the big game environment. So far most of Francois passes have gone to junior Wide Receiver Travis Rudolph who has 13 receptions and 179 yards and 3 TDs & Bobo (Jesus) Wilson 13 receptions 178 yards so far in 2016.
FSU has a very deep group of experienced receivers and the Cards will be without Safety Dee Smith in the 1st half vs. the Noles who was ejected for targeting in the 2nd of last week’s game vs. Syracuse. The Cards will have to WORK to cover this crew, but Florida State’s offensive line has had some tough moments early in its first two games and have allowed 6 sacks in the season’s first two games. In fact, Ole Miss got 3 sacks and then got ZERO in Week 2 vs. Wofford. Ole Miss does not have a recent history as an ELITE pass rushing team…..but the Cards have been in the Top 10 in Sacks over the past 3 seasons. If the Cards can get pressure on an Offensive Line that has had some struggles early they may not need to worry as much about the deep ball from Francois but instead could limit the opportunities in the vertical passing game of FSU.
But now let’s talk about the elephant in the room……….. Dalvin Cook. Dalvin had his coming out party in 2014. The Cards had opportunity after opportunity to win the 2014 match-up and a big part of that was Louisville’s inability to bring down Dalvin Cook. There were times that Louisville was in position to make the play and Cook slipped through for a TD. There were other times that Cook just was gone. The same was true last year in 2015 most notably when Devonte Fields were there for a short run that turned into a pivotal HUGE run for the Seminoles from Dalvin Cook. FSU may be starting its 3rd quarterback in 3 seasons….but it’s standard over the last 3 years (against Louisville anyway) has been Dalvin Cook. Cook had nearly 1700 yards and 19 TDs rushing last season and he’s also a threat in the passing game.
Louisville Defensively needs to make sure it is properly aligned and communicating effectively. The Cards also need to finish tackles strongly and with authority. There can be no falling forward while carrying the football every single yard will count in this one. Louisville needs to mentally prepare itself to play its most physical game of the season. Dee Smith is one of Louisville’s best open field tacklers so not having him on the back end of Louisville’s defense is going to be a major challenge for the Cards. BUT when Louisville gets Dee back in the 2nd half Louisville’s defense can actually change quite a bit making FSU need to adjust early on in the 3rd quarter.
The Cards need to get home on pass rush and they absolutely can not allow Dalvin Cook to run wild. This is a game for Devonte Fields, James Hearns to really rush the passer. DeAngelo Brown SHOULD be able to get significant push up front against Florida State’s interior Defense line and that will be a tremendous key in disrupting what Florida State wants to do. If Brown is effective Jimbo Fisher will have no choice but to shift the pocket and utilize outside runs.
Overall this is an excellent test for Louisville’s defense as FSU is a complete offense led by an offensive genius in Jimbo Fisher. The Cards have finished in the Top 25 in Total Defense in all 6 of its past seasons and it returned a load of NFL talent for its senior season. The Cards haven’t looked sharp defensively to date… but they haven’t needed to either. On Saturday we’ll find out if this group is the real deal.
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