Before FSU kicks off against LSU in Orlando on Sunday night here’s what you need to watch out for as key factors that will determine the victor on Sunday night.
1) How will FSU limit Harold Perkins’ effectiveness?
The freshman dynamo now turned sophomore from New Orleans, LA had 7.5 sacks as a true freshman edge rusher for LSU last year. FSU didn’t see much of him in week 1 as he was still getting acclimated to the collegiate game but once he came on he couldn’t be turned off. The three-sack performance vs. Arkansas was the most dominant defensive performance by a true freshman that I’ve seen since Brian Burns vs. Syracuse in 2016 and Derwin James vs. Florida in 2015. Including this ridiculous play right here:
Let’s just keep it a buck; that is some seriously silly ability; so how does FSU counter it?
LSU is on record as having Harold Perkins play a more off-the-ball position so the solution is to put him in run-pass binds on 1st and second down to wear him out before he rushes the passer on third down? Can FSU execute it? We shall see.
2) How will LSU slow down FSU’s running game without Maason Smith?
After missing almost all of 2022 with an ACL injury in the opener last year vs. FSU; Maason was ready and eager to get back on the field. Alas, the worst organization in all of sports (the NCAA) has struck again and Smith will be in street clothes serving a one-game suspension for impermissible benefits in the NIL era.....exactly. LSU’s loss is FSU’s gain because FSU’s running game is set to be a strength once again. Take a quick second and stop reading this article to look at FSU’s depth chart and count how many first, second, or third-year players on the offensive two-deep for the offensive line?
Spoiler alert! The answer is the same as the amount of gold in the Lannister Gold Mines after the disastrous reign of King Robert Baratheon I: Zero. FSU finally has an offensive line full of grown men; so much so that arguably its two most talented recruits in recent memory; four-star OT Julian Armella and four-star OT Lucas Simmons will both be afforded the opportunity to develop physically before being forced into early action like their teammates, Robert Scott and Darius Washington, respectively.
Combine that ridiculous experience (over 200 returning starts) with the nation’s most difficult RB to tackle and you’ve got a recipe for a long night with a star DT on the sideline:
Trey Benson forced missed tackles at a RECORD rate last season pic.twitter.com/KREMeY0CFV— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 23, 2023
3) Which new transfer will make the biggest impact?
The rest of the college football world somehow let FSU add Keon Coleman to a receiver room returning Johnny Wilson, Kentron Poitier both of which are being complemented by two high-impact TE transfers: Jaheim Bell and Kyle Morlock but I feel very comfortable saying the Louisiana native, Keon Coleman, will be the absolute best of the bunch. At 6’4 215lbs Coleman will be FSU’s starting punt returner this year. Not a typo: he has rare movement ability for his size and is maybe the offensive player with the highest NFL upside on the entire team.
For LSU the rest of the college football world somehow let LSU add first-team All-Pac 12 transfer Omar Speights to a group that already had Harold Perkins (aforementioned) and Greg Penn III, who started all 14 games for LSU last year and was maybe their most consistent linebacker finishing second on the team in tackles. Excellent at pursuit Speights has A-plus coverage instincts and rarely misses tackles. If it weren’t for the duo in Clemson; adding Speights would easily make this the best pair of linebackers on FSU’s schedule and a real problem to deal with.
Can FSU’s RBs and TEs exploit what should be the best defensive unit on the field for LSU?
The only ranked match-up of the weekend with NFL talent all over the field; this should be fun for all of college football but LSU and FSU fans should expect to see a highly competitive match-up between two potential college football playoff contenders.
The long night is over; the season has arrived.