Florida State vs USF: Preview and Prediction

FSU Run Game vs USF Defense

Florida State’s run game was expected to be the constant coming into the season.  That’s been anything but the case, however.  Dalvin Cook, who I believe to be hurt though FSU has been mum on the issue, has simply not looked like the Cook from the previous two years.  He’s lacked the explosion and toughness that’s he run with in the past and simply has been average.  That said, he’s not been helped much by the offensive line, tight ends, or wide receivers.  The line has been shuffled due to injuries and ineffectiveness and the Noles might be starting their fourth different lineup in four games this weekend.

It’s tough to say what South Florida has been on defense against the run this season. The Bulls are only giving up 3.33 yards per carry and have been consistent in their run defense through three games.  Those three games, though, are against Towson, Northern Illinois, and Syracuse, so they haven’t exactly been tested.

Cook tore up USF last year and, theoretically, the Noles should have the advantage here.  As you’ll see through the entirety of this preview, though, after last week I’m bumfuzzled and have no clue what’s going to happen.

FSU Passing Game vs USF Defense

Deondre Francois had a really nice start against Ole Miss and the FSU passing game was humming. He did face a lot of pressure in that matchup and that proved to be a huge issue last week.  Francois was pressured constantly as the offensive line, and the running backs, Dalvin Cook in particular, did nothing to stop the pressure coming from everywhere.  Auden Tate did have a couple of nice touchdowns and that is a small encouragement from the recent debacle.  Hopefully, Francois doesn’t start seeing ghosts and lose confidence in the pocket.

South Florida has a good defense and have some nice athletes on the backend.  They did give up 350 yards through the air last week against Syracuse, but that was on 50 pass attempts.

I think Francois could have a big game if he’s given some time, but I thought he’d have a nice game last week, so…

USF Run Game vs FSU Defense

There’s this new offense around (it’s actually been around a long time) that uses the zone read.  The zone read is basically a veer option from the shotgun where the quarterback reads an unblocked defender, usually a defensive end, and either gives it to the running back or keeps it based on the action by the defender.  South Florida runs this from time to time and has rushed for 200+ yards in each of their first three games.  The Bull quarterback, Quenton Flowers is a really athletic player that runs this offense.

Florida State has never seen this offense before and has no idea how to defend it.

USF Pass Game vs FSU Defense

The aforementioned Quenton Flowers is largely a running back playing quarterback.  This was extremely evident last year against the Noles, but Flowers has gotten better with experience.  He’s still just completing barely over 50 percent of his passes, but has hit on some big plays and averages nearly 10 yards per attempt.

The Florida State secondary is full of amazing athletes that were some of the top players at their position coming out of high school.  Unfortunately, they often have no idea what they’re supposed to do and this allows wide receivers, sometimes greatly inferior wide receivers, to run free in the secondary like the American bison in South Dakota.

Special Teams

Logan Tyler has shown to have an extremely powerful leg on kickoffs and is punting the ball pretty well. Placement can still be an issue like it was last week’s punt return for a touchdown where he punted it wider than the majority of the coverage unit.  Ricky Aguayo has largely picked up where his brother left off and is 9 of 10 early on in the season.

USF kicker Emilio Nadelman doesn’t have a really strong leg, only kicking 16% of his kickoffs for a touchback.  Nadelman has only attempted three field goals, making all of them. D’Ernest Johnson does have a punt return for a touchdown on the year.

31 Prediction

Despite my salty and sarcastic “preview” above, I do think the Noles win this game.  Honestly, not much would surprise me at this point, though. Is the psyche of this team shatterd?  Will the debacle in Kentucky carry over for the rest of the year? Does last week’s embarrassment bring a more simplistic approach from the defensive coaches and a renewed focus from the team?

Your guess is as good as mine and that makes this a rather intriguing game.  If the Noles come out with something to prove and win this game by 30 I won’t be shocked.  If the Noles are uncertain, hesitant, and still reeling from last week’s ridiculousness and drop this game by two touchdowns, I won’t be shocked.  In all reality, I think this game will fall somewhere in the middle.  It’ll be ugly (for FSU fans) for the first half, the Noles will win in a game that is never completely comfortable, but doesn’t leave you thinking they’re going to lose late in the game either.


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