Louisville-Florida St. Preview
(AP) - While Florida State has been giving up yards and first downs in its last two Atlantic Coast Conference games, the 11th-ranked Seminoles are still stingy when it comes to points.
The Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC) are preparing for Saturday's home game against Louisville with an eye on solidifying a defense that has surrendered 783 yards and 46 first downs in wins over Miami and Wake Forest the last two weeks.
"We've still got a lot to work on," senior defensive end Giorgio Newberry said. "Keep practicing and working and getting better."
And his coach believes the improvement has been notable.
"There's no alarm," Jimbo Fisher said. "I like what we are doing."
Last Saturday's 29-24 win over the Hurricanes marked the most points surrendered by the Seminoles, who have allowed opponents an average of 14 points a game.
"We're again evolving into the kind of team we need to be," Fisher said. "I've been pleased, but not satisfied."
The Seminoles have 10 sacks at this point compared to 17 total a year ago and just three interceptions, but Fisher noted the defense has broken up passes (18) in addition to quarterback hurries (15).
Florida State defensive tackle Demarcus Walker was a force against Miami and Monday was named the ACC defensive player of the week. The 281-pound junior had a pair of sacks, forced a fumble and batted down a pass attempt.
Fisher said the young Seminoles defense - only three seniors are in the starting unit - is right on schedule in its progression and will face its toughest challenge to date in Louisville. The Cardinals, who are coming off a bye week, enter the contest averaging 27.4 points and 388 yards while allowing 20.2 points and 323.8 yards overall.
"You watch the film ... you see a 5-0 team," Fisher said in reference to Louisville (2-3, 1-1 ACC). "They have three losses but all of those have come right down to the wire."
Louisville's three losses are all to teams that are or were ranked - Auburn, Clemson and Houston - and by a total of 13 points.
While outlining the Louisville talent, Fisher left little doubt he thinks the Seminoles are about to meet their toughest opponent personnel-wise Saturday.
The Seminoles are 13-2 over the years against the Cardinals with their lone home loss in the relative short series coming in 1952 when a young Johnny Unitas completed 16 of 21 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns to spark a 41-14 Louisville victory.
Florida State rallied from a 21-0 deficit a year ago in Louisville in a 42-31 win.
The Seminoles will be looking for their 28th consecutive ACC win, which would put them one shy of the school record set in the early 1990s.
If they get it, sophomore tailback Dalvin Cook will likely play a role. He was named the league's top offensive player of the week on Monday after his 222-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance against the Hurricanes.
Cook ranks second nationally with 158.4 rushing yards per game behind LSU star Leonard Fournette (204.4), though Florida State's passing game is showing promise behind Everett Golson. The Notre Dame transfer completed 25 of 33 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown against Miami.
Golson has yet to throw an interception but is facing a Cardinals defense which has totaled nine of them and forced 12 turnovers overall.
"(Golson) has done a really nice job like I said of taking care of the football," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino told the program's official website. "He hasn't turned it over and has been very reliable making good decisions for them. He still utilizes his quickness, his ability to run and make plays."
As for his own quarterback, Petrino seems to have that situation settled with freshman Lamar Jackson now entrenched as the starter after sophomores Kyle Bolin and Reggie Bonnafon also received significant playing time.
Jackson provides more mobility than those two and has already set a single-season school record by a quarterback with 435 rushing yards, including 313 in the last two games in wins over Samford and North Carolina State.
He completed 51 percent of his passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns during that span behind a young offensive line which has often struggled, giving up 16 sacks overall.