Florida State returns home after a heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech and faces a 3-4 Syracuse team that has had some major injury problems at quarterback. After starter Terrell Hunt went down with an injury in the Rhode Island game, the Orange turned to sophomore AJ Long, who would later be medically disqualified with a concussion. True freshman Eric Dungey gave them a spark, but was didn’t play in the LSU game, meaning Syracuse had to resort to walk-ons at quarterback. This should be a good bounce back game for Florida State and an opportunity for the ‘Noles to straighten things out before traveling to Clemson next weekend.
What To Watch For:
Focus and Tone of the Team: After a heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech last week and with a trip to Clemson looming next weekend, how will this team respond? Will they be focused and dialed in on this Syracuse team? Or will they be lazy, lax and too concerned about the Clemson game instead? It’s also parents weekend and players will be eager to perform well in front of the mass of parents on the sidelines. This could be a great opportunity for Florida State to bounce back with a good win after the loss last week.
The Running Back Rotation: Dalvin Cook received all the carries last week, but clearly was not 100% at the end of the game. Mario Pender was back this week in practice after his collapsed lung, but it’s unlikely that he plays. Jonathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick are serviceable backs, but have not received a lot of snaps this season so far. However, if Jimbo wants to save Cook for the Clemson game, expect to see a lot of Vickers and Patrick to wear down the Orange.
UPDATE: Dalvin Cook has been officially ruled out of this game by Jimbo. Jonathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick will share the load, but this certainly means that Jimbo will air the ball out more in this game.
Pressuring the Freshman Quarterback: Syracuse is starting a true freshman at quarterback, Eric Dungey, after a multitude of injuries struck that position. After a week of defending the triple option, Florida State finally has a chance to unleash its pass rush again. Josh Sweat is really becoming a phenomenal defensive player, both against the pass and run, and DeMarcus Walker is still a force on the other end. Expect Charles Kelly to use his unique blitzing packages, which includes Derwin James coming off the edge, early and often in this game to pressure the true freshman signal caller.
Roberto Aguayo’s Response: While the blocked field goal attempt was in no part Roberto Aguayo’s fault, it is certainly disheartening that the blocked attempt was the dagger that ended Florida State’s undefeated season. How will Roberto Aguayo respond from this? Will he shake it off and continue on his track of becoming an early round NFL draft pick? Or will the blocked attempt wear down his confidence? Personally, I have a lot of confidence in Aguayo and expect him to continue his amazing performance this season.
Florida State has a tough stretch to end the season. After Syracuse, they travel to Clemson, host NC State and then travel again to Florida. This game is a very good opportunity for Jimbo Fisher to get his players back on the right track. Get Everett Golson in a rhythm, get the young receivers some catches, and get the offensive line some confidence back. Hopefully the Seminoles can put Atlanta behind them and have a strong end to the season.