Florida State had a very successful opening debut, crushing Texas State 59-16. Everett Golson looked very good in his first game in a Seminole jersey, passing for 302 yards and 4 touchdowns. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over, which was a big factor in his benching at Notre Dame. Dalvin Cook and the rest of the skill players put up huge numbers as well. Defensively, the Noles could have shut the Bobcats out if not for terrible special teams play that they hope to fix this week.
South Florida, the Noles’ opponent tomorrow morning, also had a very good opening game, defeating FCS Florida A&M 51-3. New starting quarterback Quinton Flowers accounted for 3 total touchdowns and stud running back Marlon Mack had 131 yards and another score on the ground. Overall, the Bulls had a good game, which is key for this year’s squad as head coach Willie Taggart is on a very warm seat this season.
What to Watch For
- The biggest test for Florida State’s defense in this game will be its ability to contain dual-threat Quinton Flowers. Flowers might not be the biggest threat passing, but he certainly has the ability to escape the pocket and pick up a first down or extend the play through the air. USF’s wide receivers also won’t pose that much of an issue to this talented secondary, so expect USF to make the most out of Flowers’ running ability. When teamed up with Marlon Mack, the two can certainly cause problems for Florida State’s run defense. Look for Florida State to use Trey Marshall or Tyler Hunter in more QB-spy roles, where their sole assignment is to spy Flowers and take him down when he escapes the pocket. If they can limit Flowers on the ground (and possibly stop Mack on the ground as well), then FSU will have a very good day defensively. This will be a good test to see if FSU can stop some of the better dual threat quarterbacks later in the year, such as Justin Thomas at Georgia Tech and Deshaun Watson at Clemson.
- A big misconception from the Texas State game was that the offensive line was dominant. While the left side (Rod Johnson, Kareem Are) was certainly good, the right side (Corey Martinez, Wilson Bell, Brock Ruble) had their struggles and were overmatched at times against a fairly weak Texas State defensive line. South Florida has a much better defensive line and one of the key matchups in the game will be if FSU’s offensive line can make holes for the running game. Watch for if FSU primarily runs to the left side (behind Johnson and Are) because the right side is overmatched. If the offensive line struggles in this game, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year.
- One of the biggest disappointments of last week was the play of special teams. Marquez White and Travis Rudolph dropped three punts, Cason Beatty looked terrible as ever at punting, and Roberto Aguayo seems to have a problem with nailing kickoffs out of bounds. The first problem seems to be solved with Bobo Wilson stepping back in as punt returner and, while he might not be the most explosive option at returner, he is the most consistent at catching the ball. Cason Beatty is another issue and, in his fourth year in the program, don’t look for him to get better at punting the ball. Aguayo is another issue. One of the biggest strengths to his game is his ability to send kickoffs to the 1-2 yard line so the opponents are forced to return the ball. However, a big risk to this strategy is that if he misses by even a little bit, the ball will likely go out of bounds. Look for him to simply kick the ball out of the end zone if he misses on even one of these attempts on Saturday.
- Finally, it seems like only a matter of time before Jalen Ramsey returns a kickoff for a touchdown. The switch to #17 on kickoffs was a very touching move by Ramsey and Charlie Ward, but the real story was how explosive he looked at returner last week. Ramsey took the kickoff back 37 yards, but with his natural talent and athleticism, Saturday might be the day that he scores.
Florida State should cruise to another victory on Saturday as USF has many issues on both sides of the ball. Everett Golson and the offense should put up a lot of points and I’m confident in the defense’s ability to contain Flowers and limit their ground game. With an early game next week on the road, Jimbo Fisher will likely want to get this game over with quickly so his team gets as much rest as possible.
For those that are going to the game, it’ll be hot, hot, hot, so be sure to apply sunscreen!