Florida State has won the last two meetings with an average margin of victory of 15.5 points per game. Last year, the Seminoles struggled in the first half against the Cardinals and held a 7-6 halftime lead before pulling away in the second half 41-21. Seminoles starting safety Derwin James is out for this game with a knee injury (surgery).
The Seminoles have averaged 165 rushing yards per game and passed for 344 yards per game through the first two games this year.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois will be making his first real road start in Louisville this weekend. On the year, Francois has played very well completing 69% of his passes for 681 yards with 5 touchdowns and one interception.
Francois has multiple weapons that can take the pressure off of him on the road.
Running back Dalvin Cook leads the team with 174 rushing yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 2 touchdowns. Cook has been utilized in the short passing game by head coach Jimbo Fisher. On the year, Cook has 8 receptions for 110 yards and look for him to be utilized in the same way this weekend which can put pressure on the Cardinal defense to account for him at all times. Cook has great speed which can create mismatches for the Cardinals on Saturday.
Florida State’s wide receivers will look to attack Louisville down the middle of the field on seam routes. Last week on the road, the Cardinals gave up big plays in the passing game to Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey.
Travis Rudolph leads the team with 13 receptions for 179 yards with 3 touchdowns. Jesus “Bobo” Wilson and Kermit Whitfield are big play targets that have combined for 20 receptions for 248 yards.
Third down situations will be critical to get the road victory on Saturday afternoon. Florida State cannot put Francois into third down and long situations. Even though they have converted 58% on third downs this season as team, the road environment coupled with a speedy defense will put pressure on Francois to force throws into coverage which could lead to turnovers.
The defense has played well so far but will be without its star safety Derwin James. The Seminoles have allowed 108 rushing yards per game and 227 passing yards per game. The defense has come up with big plays in back to back wins against Ole Miss and Charleston Southern.
The Seminoles have held opposing offenses to 30% on third downs and have recorded 9 sacks through the first two games (4.5 per game). Florida State enters this game +6 in turnover margin.
Florida State must contain Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and keep him in the pocket. Jackson is lethal when he breaks contain and makes huge plays in the passing game when he rolls out. However, sometimes he forces balls into coverage and the defense front seven must be able to maintain their gap integrity this weekend.
The Cardinals have been the most prolific offense in college football and are coming off of an 845 yard performance against Syracuse. Louisville is averaging 343 rushing yards per game and 411 passing yards per game.
Heisman front runner quarterback Lamar Jackson has completed 59% of his passes for 697 yards with 7 touchdowns and one interception. Jackson also leads the team with 318 rushing yards averaging 9.9 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns on the ground. He is an unbelievable athlete that has taken his game to the next level this year. He has been confident in his reads and progressions.
Running back Brandon Radcliff is a tough inside runner that has rushed for 178 yards with one touchdown.
Wide receivers Jamari Staples and James Quick have combined for 14 receptions for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Both players will need to have big plays against the Seminoles secondary and challenge them deep.
As a team, Louisville has converted 47% on third downs and the offensive line has played very well yielding one sack through the first two games. Last season, this unit allowed 44 sacks.
Defensively, the Cardinals have been solid in run support giving up 84 rushing yards per game and have allowed 226 passing yards on the season.
Linebacker James Hearns leads the team with 2.5 sacks and must step up this weekend in order to give the Cardinals the home win. As a team, Louisville has recorded 8 sacks and has held opposing offenses to 27% on third downs.
Safety Josh Harvey Clemons is a run stuffing safety that will attack the line of scrimmage. However, he cannot get caught looking in the backfield in shadowing Dalvin Cook. He must stay at home in pass coverage against Florida State wide receivers. That is a match-up to look out for on Saturday.