Florida State’s offense looked lackluster at best after coming off 86 points scored in its first two games. The ‘Noles fell on Saturday, 63-20, the fewest points the team has scored since losing at Clemson last season.
After shining in those two first games, quarterback Deondre Francois struggled in what could be Florida State’s biggest game of the season. The offensive line did have a few situations in which Francois had more than enough time and room in the pocket, however the young quarterback would leave the pocket, scramble or run toward the edge, and then make a throw there, wasting those few opportunities of good protection.
The redshirt freshman went 7-18 passing on the day with 101 yards and a touchdown, his lowest yardage total of any full half, no less game of 2016. His seven completions were the fewest in a game for a Florida State quarterback since 2012, when E.J. Manuel completed eight passes in a victory.
Fisher stated following the game that a big momentum changer was when Francois went the wrong way handing the ball off to Dalvin Cook, and fumbled deep in FSU territory, essentially handing Louisville a touchdown to go up 28-10. Had Francois been able to read the right play and lead the offense for a score, the ‘Noles would have been down only 21-17, with the new momentum possibly playing a big role going forward.
Behind Francois, running back Dalvin Cook continues to play without the intensity and strength that he made himself known for in 2015. Multiple times, it seemed as though Cook did not hit the open hole, and he has only cracked a single run over 18 yards, something he did in 10 games last season. After having 476 rushing yards and 7.44 yards per carry in his first three games last season, Cook has been limited to just 228 yards and 4.56 yards per carry in 2016. This could still be lingering effects from the surgery to his shoulder this past offseason. Fisher put the blame on the offensive line following the game, saying, "We didn't block anybody."
The offensive line was a big issue for Florida State at Louisville. The Cardinals had nine tackles for a loss along with five sacks of Francois and five more quarterback hurries. Getting to the backfield, not allowing Francois to put any fluid drives together, got the ‘Noles caught in quite a few third down situations, far from the first down marker. In all, Florida State went 2-13 on third downs, with one of those conversions a 20-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate on 3rd and 15.
Despite the massive amount of errors offensively, there were two players in particular who stood out. Running back Jacques Patrick led the team in rushing with 79 yards on just seven attempts. His first run was a Florida State season long of 41 yards, which eventually set up the aforementioned Tate touchdown to cut UL’s lead to seven.
Tate caught both touchdowns on the day for Florida State, including one from J.J. Cosentino, his only completion. The 6’5 225 lb. receiver is starting to emerge as a red zone target, already with three touchdowns on the season on four total receptions.
The offense will prepare for next week when the team hits the road once again to Tampa, Florida for a meeting with the USF Bulls. In the team’s meeting against South Florida last season, the offense got off to a slow start, only gaining 100 total yards and seven points in the first half before turning on the jets in the second half.