Florida State pulled away from Louisville on Saturday, 41-21. A lot of advanced metrics pegged the Cardinals as a better team than Miami in key areas such as rushing offense and rushing defense and this was a classic trap game for FSU. So how did FSU pull it off? We look back and tell you.
What Went Right?
Dalvin Cook, again. The man is inhuman, going for 163 yards rushing on 22 carries and two touchdowns on basically one leg because of his strained hamstring. Watching him run the football is pure art. He is by far the most explosive running back in the country and is the biggest reason why FSU is undefeated. While not as efficient as LSU’s Leonard Fournette, no one is such a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Quarterback Everett Golson was efficient, throwing for 372 yards. Yet, as has been noted by our friends at Tomahawk Nation, head coach Jimbo Fisher is calling a lot shorter passes that are easier for Golson to execute and still yield a ton of yards after the catch.
On the other side of the ball, the Seminole rush defense was spectacular, holding Louisville to 3.3 yards-per-carry on 30 carries. Nile Lawrence-Stample was unblockable from his defensive tackle position on Saturday and he went unconscious on one particular series, single-handedly ending the Cardinal drive. Lawrence-Stample and defensive end DeMarcus Walker have been excellent this year and the influence of new position coach Brad Lawing has been more than evident.
What Went Wrong?
The pass defense. Trey Marshall, the starter at the star position, tore his biceps tendon and is out for the year. His replacement Tyler Hunter was repeatedly exposed and exploited in coverage and even got benched after an inexcusable penalty following a Louisville touchdown. He’s simply not the same player he was before his neck injury in 2013.
FSU gave up way too many 3rd-and-long conversions through the air that kept Louisville drives alive. The secondary may have to turn to talented but unproven freshmen like cornerback Tavares McFadden. FSU may see safety Derwin James slide down to the star but is he ready? There’s no clear answers here and how the staff handles this will be a crucial factor down the stretch. FSU needs linebacker Terrance Smith back before Clemson in three weeks. Smith has been nursing an ankle injury sustained during the first half of an October 3rd contest at Wake Forest.
Where Do We Go From Here?
FSU faces a reeling Georgia Tech team that is nothing short of a disappointment. Injuries have derailed this team and it can’t stop the run. If Cook’s hamstring is reasonably healthy, he should put up big numbers. The Seminole defense is deep and talented and should match up well.
Featured image courtesy of Mitch White/special to FSU athletics