Florida State is coming off another loss at the hands of Wake Forest this past weekend. FSU now sits at 0-3 on the season and it is the worst for the program in 45 seasons. After another disappointing effort from the 'Noles, it's safe to say this team and fans will be in for a long season. The dynamic University of Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham is up this weekend, and he presents another set of challenges for the Seminoles' defense. Florida State will face Louisville (2-1) this weekend in Tallahassee at 3:30 ET on ESPN 2. Here are my three keys to victory for the 0-3 Seminoles.
Containing Louisville QB Malik Cunningham
Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham is what you would call a dual-threat QB. This past weekend in a win over UCF, Cunningham ran for 99 yards and threw for 265 yards. Last season, the Noles' did a decent job of containing Cunningham outside of the 35-yard burst he had, only totaling 40 yards on the ground. In the game against Wake Forest, we saw Sam Hartman make some plays with his legs and this week is an even bigger test for this defense. The defensive line must contain the outside edges and maintain gap integrity to make it tough on Cunningham. I also wouldn't be surprised to see someone spy on him for parts of the game. The Louisville QB will have his moments, but if the Seminoles can keep them to a minimum, it will improve their chances of winning this game.
Tight end Marshon Ford vs. FSU LB's/DB's
Earlier in the season, Florida State struggled with Notre Dame's tight end Michael Mayer. While Marshon Ford may not be as good, he is still a solid football player who can cause mismatches for this defense. Ford leads the Cards this season in catches with most of them coming vs UCF. He totaled eight catches for 100 yards and one score. The redshirt sophomore is one of Cunningham's favorite targets and with a linebacker and defensive back unit that's been inconsistent this year, this will be a good test for the 'Noles.
If Florida State wants to win this game, it's essential that it wins the turnover battle. Six turnovers last week versus Wake is unacceptable. Each game this season, the Seminoles have tied or lost the turnover battle and for a team that doesn't have elite talent throughout the roster, you can't win games that way. FSU's defense must find ways to make plays on the ball when given the opportunity. 50/50 balls this season have seemed to go the opponent's way throughout the first three games. If the 'Noles can protect the football and create two or three turnovers it will give them a decent chance at winning this weekend.
I expect the Seminoles to come out and fight against a solid Louisville football team this weekend. Hopefully, the Seminoles can create some turnovers, play smart, contain Malik Cunningham and the result should be a good one for FSU and the fans.