Saturday night, the struggling Florida State Seminoles (1-1) head into what should be a raucous Scott Stadium for the 19th meeting with the Virginia Cavaliers (2-0). The Hoos are favorites, but FSU has the talent to always cause a problem. In order to get a better understanding of the Seminoles, we asked Jon Marchant of Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) to help us out.
Check out my answers to Jon’s questions (and a drawing!) here.
Streaking the Lawn: So, things have gotten off to a rocky start for the Seminoles, to put it nicely. How high is the panic level in Tallahassee??
Tomahawk Nation: I wouldn’t say panic so much as cautious apathy. It’s been difficult to enjoy watching FSU football for a couple of years now. Everyone was really excited for Willie Taggart’s debut last year and it didn’t go well, and we know how last season turned out. They revamped the offensive coaching staff in the offseason and everyone got excited again. And the first half against Boise State they looked great. It was the best and most fun FSU has looked in years. But blowing that 18-point lead and then blowing the 21-point lead to Louisiana-Monroe and only winning on a missed extra point...it feels like FSU is one throttling away from having the fanbase check out again. It has become painfully apparent Willie Taggart inherited a mess much bigger than most realized, and while he’s made his share of mistakes along the way, it seems that the rebuild may be far from over.
STL: If you had to pinpoint one thing on the field, what has been the biggest issue/concern?
TN: The defensive coaching has been subpar this season to say the least, leading to a huge regression in the on-field quality of play. It flows down from them, but if I had to pick one actual on-field issue it would be the play of the linebackers. They often miss their run fits, try to jump around blocks, and have been awful in coverage. In other words, a liability. FSU has recently recruited some talent there and I think some of us are ready to see this staff give the young guys a chance, even as green as they are. If I had to pick an honorable mention, it would be the turnovers by the offense.
STL: Cam Akers has been a bright point. How can Virginia try to slow him down, and how many yards do you think he has to get to give the Seminoles a chance to pull the upset?
TN: I don’t want to think about where FSU would be without Akers. How can the Cavs slow him down? Run blitz on all standard downs. Seriously, just send them early and often. FSU is reliant on RPOs though, so if Blackman makes his reads correctly that should open up the passing game. But it would force FSU to go to other guys than Akers. That’s a great question...200 yards maybe? Yeah, probably 200. Taggart has said they want to get Akers at least 25 carries a game. He’s the guy that can carry the offense, move the chains, and keep the Seminole defense off the field (and therefore also Bryce Perkins and the Cavalier offense). He might need 200 to do all of that and score enough to keep FSU ahead.
STL: Bryce Perkins is a dynamic threat on offense, and has capable weapons in Joe Reed and Wayne Taulapapa. How can FSU slow the offense and what do you think the plan that Leonard Warner III was talking about is?
TN: I have absolutely no idea what Warner was talking about and I wish he wouldn’t have said it. I hate when players talk trash through the media before games; it almost never ends well for the one doing the talking. Also, FSU has not played well enough on defense for anyone to be saying anything.
I’m not sure FSU can slow down Perkins and his offense, to be honest. ULM put up 44, and it could have easily been more. If FSU were to do it I think they need to move back to the 4-3 and away from the 3-4 that has caused so many issues at all three levels of the defense. Go back to what the kids know and what this staff knows how to teach. Maybe then they at least limit what Virginia will be trying to do. FSU also just hired Jim Leavitt as an analyst, but I don’t think he will make much impact for this game.
STL: Which horse would win in a race: Renegade or Sabre? Why?
TN: Good question. I have never seen Sabre run, but all Renegade seems to do is jog and rear up when planting the spear. Still, I have to go with Renegade. He’s just too majestic. Can I still pet Sabre?
STL: How do you see this one playing out? Final score?
TN: I saw that Virginia opened as 8-point favorites with an over/under that comes out to something like 32-24. I think that was being generous to FSU. I’ll go with 41-23 Cavs.
Huge thanks to Jon for chatting, and stick with Streaking the Lawn for more game day coverage.