LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Not much has gone right for Florida State so far this season. After nearly pulling off a season-opening upset against No. 9 Notre Dame in overtime, they then lost on a walk-off Hail Mary to FCS Jacksonville State at home, then followed that up with a mistake-ridden thumping at Wake Forest.
Their total offense (364.7 YPG) and total defense (421.7 YPG) numbers rank among the bottom four in the ACC, their minus-six turnover margin is tied for the second-worst in FBS, and their nine penalties per game puts them in the bottom 10. Second-year head coach Mike Norvell's seat continues to get hotter by the day.
But there is one area where the Seminoles actually perform quite well in: the front seven. Through their first three games, Florida State actually ranks in the top 20 in both sacks and tackles for loss, averaging 4.00 and 8.00 per games, respectively.
"The first thing that jumps out (on film) is just their size," offensive lineman Bryan Hudson said. "A team like Florida State, they're always going to have the size up front, the D-line especially. They're very active with their hands, they're quick and they're just overall good players."
The leader of the pack, without question, is defensive end Jermaine Johnson. The Georgia transfer is off to a blazing hot start, already logging seven tackles for loss and five sacks. The Seminoles also have five other players with at least two TFLs, such as defensive end Keir Thomas and linebacker Amari Gainer - who each have 2.5 TFLs and a sack.
"They're big, strong, athletic guys that play with good technique," center Cole Bentley said. "We need to just stay after it, no matter what happens. If we go out and have a couple three-and-outs, we can't go to the sideline and get down, we just got to keep moving and keep the momentum going in our way."
Dealing with guys of that caliber will undoubtedly be a challenge for Louisville's offensive line. But with the Cardinals sporting so much experience up front, combined with the positive momentum they have from their win against UCF, they believe they have the ability to hold their own against a stout FSU defensive line and linebacking corps.
"Being able to get the guys that we have with a lot of experience - and some of the young guys that haven't played as much ball - them being able to see those type of athletes, and being able to see that kind of defense, and (UCF)'s blitzes, and things like that, I think definitely helped out a lot," Hudson said.
"It prepared us as well for this upcoming game. Also, seeing the mistakes that we've made against those type of defenses, and being able to see it, slow down the game a little bit more, and be able to pick that kind of stuff up."
Kickoff at FSU is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Amari Gainer, Kyren Williams: Melina Myers - USA TODAY Sports)
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