Florida State, the opponent who provided the seminal (or Seminole if you will) game of the 1990’s are coming back to South Bend for a prime time show down. This is not, however, the Florida State of yore, for much like that person who was a jerk to you in high school, looking at their recent Facebook photos, the years have not been kind. Florida State comes into this game with a 1-2 record, the win required them to come from behind in the second half against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. The last time the Seminole’s needed to come from behind in the second half against an FCS team was all the way back in 2018, when they rallied in the fourth to beat Samford.
The Seminole’s of Florida State
Florida State Roster Average Ranking
I don’t condone day drinking but if I did, boy do I have a drinking game for you. In the lead up to this game and during the broadcast, every time you hear someone mention the “talent” on Florida State’s roster, take a drink. When Notre Dame is up 4 scores in the third quarter and Tony Dungie and Mike Tirico are trying to find nice things to say about FSU, after the 7 or 8th time Jordan Davis gets knocked to the ground, they’ll bring up the roster talent. At face value, everyone is right. Florida State is the second most talented Notre Dame plays this season by a long shot. The difference in roster talent between FSU and the next highest team is a larger gap than that team and the third least talented one. Of course, this isn’t why games aren’t decided on paper. Florida State is a trainwreck, plain and simple and it all starts up front. The average rating of Notre Dame offensive linemen 0.9349, Florida State is 0.8666 and it shows. Since 2016, Florida State has been among the nations worst teams at protecting the quarterback.
2016- 36 sacks allowed, 108th in the nation
2017- 32 sacks allowed, 99th in the nation
2018- 36 sacks allowed, 109th in the nation
2019- 48 sacks allowed, 126th in nation
2020- 11 sacks allowed, 66 out of 74, on pace for 40 sacks allowed.
This speaks to why Florida has turned to their third string QB, Louisville 3* transfer, Jordan Travis. James Blackman is a broken man at this point, he’s been sacked more than 70 times in his career (starter in 2017 and 2019) and likely hit three times that number. Tate Rodemaker won the backup job this summer but he’s a prototypical big armed, statue passer. He was sacked twice in the first quarter(!) against Jacksonville State and threw a pick six before Travis came in relief. Jordan Travis is very much like Brandon Wimbush.
He’s a long striding runner with a big arm and no real accuracy to speak of. Their star receiver Tamorrion Terry appreciated the change, who was held without a catch against Miami and ended up with 6 catches for 77 against JSU (5 for 75 from Travis). Notre Dame isn’t going to afford him the time to push the ball downfield as much, the accuracy concerns are going to be on full display this weekend. And while I like the pieces in their backfield, specifically freshman Lawrance Toafili, it’s a tough ask for their offensive line against this Notre Dame front(even without the services of Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa). Their center, redshirt freshman Maurice Smith, is without a doubt the most undersized non-service academy linemen I’ve seen in a while at just 286lbs. FIU grad transfer Devontay Love-Taylor joins Smith and the rest of a FSU line that PFF ranked 129th out of 130 offensive lines in 2019.
The side of the ball that seemingly has all the talent and should be a strength, is maybe the most frustrating part of this roster for Seminole fans. New defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, through just three games, has yet to unlock their potential. The most talented on paper ( 0.9241) are their defensive backs, lead by pre-season All-ACC first team corner, Asante Samuel Jr. They have given up the second most yards per game through the air in the ACC (14 out of 15) and 53rd overall. Opposing QBs are completing passes at an unreal clip of 69.9%, and it’s not like their opponents have all been world beaters either. Georgia Tech true freshman QB Jeff Sims in his first start, went 23-34 passing (67.6%), in his next two games, against UCF and Syracuse, he was a combined 31-64 (48%). Jacksonville State was able to start the game going 11-12 passing for 105yds in the first half. Pressuring the QB has also been a struggle in the early going, having only registered three sacks in three games, only Navy and South Florida have registered fewer sacks in 3 games. It’s crazy because they have 2 of the top 10 players from 2017 recruiting class in 5* DT Marvin Wilson (#6) and DE Joshua Kaindoh (#10). Wilson has been as advertised, really coming on last season before injuring his hand and requiring surgery in November. He is seen as a consensus top 10 pick. Joshua Kaindoh on the other hand has been plagued by injuries and has never lived on to that five star billing. Ultimately, we’re looking at a team that has problems protecting their quarterback and cannot stop opposing quarterbacks. Give me a double dose of Isaiah Foskey and Tommy Tremble this weekend, and let’s enjoy the sugar rush of this blow out win.