Establish the run
The Louisville rushing attack has been more than impressive so far this season. It’s been consistently fantastic and has shown zero signs of slowing down.
Javian Hawkins has been the guy everyone is talking about on offense for Louisville. Through three weeks of gameplay, he finds himself 11th in the entire nation with a total of 338 yards. There are only two players ahead of him on this list that have fewer carries than he does. Hawkins’ ability to get to the edge and to seemingly always find his way to at least five yards has masked some of the other issues UofL has encountered this season of offense.
Satterfield praised Hawkins this week for being able to break tackles by bigger defenders, despite his smaller stature.
Florida State is allowing 170 yards rushing per game, which ranks 85th in the NCAA. You have to think FSU is going to go into this game with plans to shut down Hawkins, Hassan Hall and the rest of the Louisville rushing attack. But Javian has given you no reason to think they will do so.
He’s now had success against all types of opponents. He’s done it against national contender Notre Dame, FCS EKU and once against Western Kentucky, who is somewhere in the middle. Hawkins has to be involved and has to be himself for the Cardinals to consistently move the ball in Tallahassee.
Florida State has struggled this season to get off the field, especially on third down, which has allowed for long sustained drives that wear down defenses. This has been a huge part of their late losses to Boise State and Virginia while playing a big role in the close game against UL-Monroe.
Louisville has a 40 percent third-down conversion rate through three games, while Florida State has allowed nearly 46 percent of third downs to be converted by opposing offenses. Giving the ball to Hawkins early, even if Florida State lines up with seven or eight guys in the box, will be crucial.
Most of the damage on Florida State’s defense has come through the air, which as we know hasn’t been a strong point for the Cards so far this year. The defense has given up over 314 yards passing through three games, and for Louisville, if they have any chance at being able to throw the ball, setting up the run has to happen first.
How do they do that against a stout defensive line and linebacking core?
We’ve seen Louisville line up in a variety of formations in the first three weeks, whether it’s having a running back and H-Back in the backfield, two running backs, or bringing a wide receiver in motion for additional RPO and triple-option opportunities.
With Florida State moving around linebackers ahead of the matchup with Louisville, and the defensive line losing Joshua Kaindoh, one of their top pass rushers, expect for Satterfield to try and do what he can to show new formations and plays.
If they can create confusion by making Florida State stop, think, and react – it could be a very long day for the defense and another important step forward on the ground and establishing a true identity for Louisville.