Previewing Louisville football’s match-up with the Florida State Seminoles, including the need-to-know information for the Cards’ first conference match-up of 2019.
When Louisville football travels to Tallahassee, Florida this weekend, they will face one of their only ACC foes with a chip on its shoulder even remotely close to theirs.
Florida State is trying to avoid a season similar to what the Cards’ 2018 slide after a disappointing 1-2 slide.
Who: Louisville Cardinals (2-1, 0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (1-2, 0-1)
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
When: Saturday, September 21st, 3:30 PM EST
Spread Check: FSU -8
Louisville is 3-0 against the spread this year while FSU is 0-3
Weather: Sunny and 90 degrees at kick-off
Television/ Stream: ESPN, Watch ESPN app
No more stadium app!!
Radio: 790 KRD AM, Louisville
Players to watch for:
Louisville’s quarterback situation is to be determined. The Cards’ Jawon Pass is considered day-to-day with a “lower extremity” injury, while back-ups Malik Cunningham and Evan Conley will again get the majority of the reps in practice this week.
While Cunningham is has done a respectable job behind center, if Pass is healthy it is likely still his starting job given his solid start to the season.
Pass also seems like the best fit against a Florida State pass defense yielding 314 yards per game through the air.
James Blackman, FSU QB
After a struggle in 2018, Florida State’s offense is beginning to turn around, and that starts with quarterback James Blackman.
The junior Blackman is averaging 281 yards per game and doing so at a 68 percent clip. He has already thrown for 9 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Though he is excellent through the air, Blackman is not a runner. He is mobile in the pocket but does not pose a major threat to break a long run. Louisville’s secondary will face its toughest test yet with Blackman in the backfield.
Tutu Atwell, UofL WR
The most lethal weapon in Louisville’s arsenal, wide receiver Tutu Atwell poses a real threat for the Seminoles.
Atwell has 262 yards from scrimmage in only 14 touches thus far in 2019 and has become a real threat to reach pay dirt, accounting for four touchdowns. Four tuddys in only 14 touches? The Cards are likely to try to get him the ball more.
Cam Akers, FSU RB
Though Louisville’s backs have been lethal on the ground in 2019, Cam Akers has been even more of a threat with the ball in his hands.
The junior running back is considered the 59th-best high school recruit of all-time by 247Sports and with good reason. He is averaging 129 yards per game on the ground, and 25 per game through the air, accounting for five touchdowns to date.
Akers is FSU’s workhorse, and in a ridiculously up-tempo offense, Akers has withstood 80 touches through three games and been a consistent beast with the ball in his hands.
Much has been made about Louisville’s level of effort and intensity to stop the run, and the Cards are going to have to crank that up another notch against Akers if they want to have a shot of pulling out a win.
Rodjay Burns, UofL LB
Perhaps Louisville’s biggest story on the defensive end, Rodjay Burns has been an animal in 2019.
Burns spent the entirety of last year in the secondary and returning punts for the Cards. So you could understand why he turned some heads when moving to the “Card” (nickel) linebacker spot under the new coaching staff.
All Burns has done, however, is thrive in his new position. He is tied for the team lead with 18 tackles, has three tackles for loss, and two sacks to go with a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
Burns is the complete package, and he is going to be asked to do a lot of things for the Cards against an FSU offense that brings a ton of size, talent, and speed.
Asante Samuel, Jr. + Cory Durden
Samuel and Durden are two of FSU’s defensive leaders who have helped the ‘Noles piece together a respectable turn-around on the defensive side of the ball.
Samuel stands out on tape as an instinctive playmaker who will be tasked with covering Louisville’s talented outside receivers. FSU’s secondary is a weak-point, and Louisville is going to try to attack vertically when the time is right. There are a number of Cardinals receivers eager to make up for a brutal loss in 2018 and have a momentum-shifting game.
Durden is a breakout sophomore who will lead the FSU pass-rush. Louisville held its own against Notre Dame’s excellent defensive line, but the Seminoles could pose an even greater threat in terms of pure athleticism.
This is a match-up of two teams who like to play completely opposite styles.
Ultimately, I believe the outcome will be determined by the turnover battle. If the ‘Noles get a few extra possessions, their up-tempo offense could really wear down Louisville’s depth. Inversely, if Louisville turns over FSU a couple of times, the Cards are going to try to maintain long, sustained drives and make this a short game.
In the end, I think FSU is at home and they have a head coach fighting for his job. Florida State is far too talented to start 1-3. I have not seen enough out of Louisville’s defense to show me they can force turnovers on a consistent basis, and their offense is still mistake-prone given the uncertainty at quarterback.
For those reasons, I’ll take Florida State 31-27.
I hope I’m wrong.