Florida State is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Regardless of the result, there were a lot of good takeaways from that game, and it has fans feeling optimistic about the season. Jacksonville State is coming off a 31-0 loss to UAB this past week. Here are three matchups to watch for as the 'Noles take on the Gamecocks this week in Tallahassee at 8:00 pm EST.
1. Florida State vs itself
Coming off a tough loss can sometimes make or break a team. We know the 'Noles lost a thriller in OT to Notre Dame, and this week they play an inferior opponent in Jacksonville State so attention to detail will be key. Pre-snap penalties and open-field tackling should be two priorities the team should tidy up this weekend. In past seasons, the Seminoles have had games where they experienced struggles with mediocre teams they should have taken care of quickly. Will one of those types of games be waiting on us this weekend? Let's see if see any progress has been made in that regard, and hope FSU will have this one sealed up before halftime.
2. JSU passing attack vs FSU defense
Jacksonville State will attempt a lot of passes this game. Against UAB they threw the ball a total of 35 times. Starting quarterback Zerrick Cooper is a dual-threat and comes in at 6'3 217 pounds. He will try to get the job done through the air as well as with his legs on the ground. FSU gave up a few big plays against Notre Dame so expect Cooper to take some shots down the field versus an inexperienced secondary. I expect the Seminoles defensive line to wreak havoc after an impressive showing last week and make the game tough for Cooper and company.
In this match-up a season ago, Cooper completed 22 of his 30 passes for 232 yards and an interception as JSU got out to a 21-7 lead.
3. FSU WR core vs JSU DB's
The 'Noles wide receivers had a decent game against Notre Dame, to say the least. Some would say they didn't have enough opportunities to make many plays. On the contrary, Florida State will have plenty of chances to make plays against a defense that gave up 371 passing yards last week. I hope we see more throws down the field that will give the playmakers on the outside a shot to make something special happen. This will be a good tune-up game before Wake Forest, look for the wide receivers to try and gain a rhythm with whoever trots out onto the field this weekend at quarterback.
All in all, FSU will be heavy favorites against an overmatched Gamecocks squad. It'll be crucial for the 'Noles to be focused and locked in against a lesser opponent. Hopefully, they can bounce back and earn the first win of the season just six days after falling to the Fighting Irish.