Florida State Seminoles football headed to Louisville to take on the 1-4 Cardinals, a team better than their record seems to indicate. Could FSU’s offense build off what they put together against North Carolina? In doing so, they could string together their first win streak and get the season record back to .500 at 3-3.
Offensively, the early takeaway was self-inflicted mistakes. A fumble, bad penalties, killer drops. Jordan Travis made up for some of them, but with the defense giving up huge explosive plays for early touchdowns to Louisville, the offense needed to be crisp to keep up. They weren’t. At the end of the first quarter Travis was 4/11 passing and FSU was just 2/5 on third downs. They were also averaging 6.4 yards per rush — 6.1 yards per play overall — but found themselves down 21-7.
At halftime FSU’s offense couldn’t keep up with Louisville scoring four touchdowns and a field goal in five straight drives, and found themselves down 31-14. ’Noles were 5/10 on third down but with an average yards to go of 9.5. They’ve also gained 6.5 yards per rush, but had just 4.4 yards per pass.
After halftime, could FSU make it a game? The answer was no, as the defense just dug this team a hole far too deep to crawl out of and the offense looked anemic. Jordan Travis clearly isn’t healthy, and in turn FSU tried to roll the pocket a lot to get him out in space. Travis ran a lot on passing scrambles, as there weren’t as many true read-option plays that featured the threat of Travis running. The result is an offense more stale than what we’ve seen recently. FSU kept finding itself in 3rd and long obvious passing situations, and the pass game was nearly nonexistent. FSU really missed Tamorrion Terry as the other receivers were absolutely awful.
With FSU in garbage time in the fourth quarter, the stats were more of the same. 7/15 on third downs, 1/3 on 4th down. An awful 4.4 yards per pass on 32 attempts and more than 200 yards rushing at 5.8 yards per rush. Would we see a backup quarterback, like Chubba Purdy? Indeed we would.
Unit notes and observations:
Quarterback: James Blackman didn’t make the trip, was sick (reportedly non-COVID related). Jordan Travis looked healthy early, but as the game went on it was clear he wasn’t. Making good decisions with the ball and avoiding big mistakes, but killer mistakes around him are holding the offense back. Into 2nd Q Travis missing reads in pass game — only asking Travis to read half-field. By third quarter, clear he’s hurt, and FSU got away from the read game a bit. Rolling Travis out, using read option game as play action fakes in pass game, and handing off with window dressing to avoid running him. But Travis scrambled a lot on broken pass plays. As a passer today, Travis wasn’t good.
We saw Chubba Purdy in his first action, in garbage time. Didn’t get much info. He extended plays well, has some burst to him, but nothing there in passing game. 3rd and 16 pass batted down. 4th and 16 pass very good and accurate, but Helton dropped it.
Skill players: La’Damian Webb with a couple early mistakes, Keyshawn Helton has a huge killer drop that would have converted a 2nd and 22. Lawrance Toafili comes in and looks good. Jordan Young got a lot of burn early, but needs to fight more for the ball. Multiple attempts and Young has been awful at the catch point, especially with his size and athleticism advantages — just no physicality to his play. WRs really not blocking well, especially out on perimeter. Really miss Tamorrion Terry in this game. Webb and Toafili good — receivers have been awful, are easily the worst unit on the offense. Bryan Robinson got some burn, mostly blocking. Time for a youth movement among this group?
Offensive line: Against a UL defensive front that largely kept ND in check, somehow, OL is getting good push/drive up front early. Way too many procedural penalties, again, though, is the main issue with this unit right now. Overall aren’t bad! A few games in a row now where the OL isn’t in the top reasons FSU loses a game. Safe to say the improvement for them has been real, they just need to stay healthy and to stop committing penalties.
Drive scheme notes and observations:
Attacking Louisville on their boundary early, with roll-out pass to Camren McDonald and then a bubble. Impressive leg drive by McDonald and La’Damian Webb. 3rd and 4 Travis thinks better of RPO throw and turns a sack into a first down anyway. Good job keeping eyes downfield. Webb drops a shovel pass that he would have scored on. On next 3rd and 5 inside 10-yard line Travis fumbles the mesh exchange but picks it up and evades multiple defenders and somehow scores. That kid is crazy athletic and never panics. Better to be lucky than good sometimes. Fortunate to still score despite mistakes and broken plays.
Jet action returns. On 3rd down Travis bails a pocket he didn’t have to quite yet and then tries to make a baseball throw across his body to an open receiver, but can’t get it there.
Some 12 personnel out of pistol. Counter then toss read with a late pitch. Jordan Young is so athletic. FSU still can’t hit the RPO post. Toafili getting some burn this drive. Penalties are killing this drive. Helton has a killer drop that would have converted a big 2nd and 22. Mike Norvell concedes the drive on 3rd and 22 with a run and punts to pin Cards deep.
Offense going through a drought now. UL blitzing on early downs. Jordan Young needs to fight harder for the ball. Another punt.
Young has a horrible block that blows up a bubble screen. Webb doing a good job gaining positive yardage when there isn’t much there. Warren Thompson appears to have pulled hamstring. Young is having a bad showing at the catch point. FSU moves into RZ mostly on Webb’s back. FSU goes for it on 4th and goal, roll Travis out and he finds Ontaria Wilson for touchdown to break 28-point unanswered from Louisville.
Two-minute drill down 31-14 with 1:40 left in the first half and no timeouts. Travis not finding or seeing anyone open, takes off couple times. Misses Wilson near goal line, doesn’t see McDonald open. Throws it into quadruple coverage on 3rd down in end zone, should have been picked. Parker Grothaus shanks a 50-yard field goal.
Almost everything is coming on Travis and Webb’s legs. Louisville basically daring FSU to throw and FSU can’t execute. Receivers aren’t getting open, can’t catch. UL secondary almost always in good position. This offense really misses Tamorrion Terry. Another 3&out.
At this point in the game, we can feel confident Travis isn’t healthy. They aren’t running him. Lots of rollouts and scrambles. Problem is, FSU can’t get anything in the pass game. That’s why this offense looks stale today. FSU can’t stay out of long 3rd down obvious passing situations, but get bailed out by a facemask penalty. Still, FSU moved the ball down the field but fell just short on 4th and goal on a QB sneak.
Next drive FSU runs a toss read RPO or used the toss read action as a play action fake. But on the next play Travis extends the play and throws a good ball to Wilson who drops it and Louisville catches it off a tip drill for the interception.
Just can’t pass and we’re in garbage time. With 7 minutes left Norvell put in Chubba Purdy, who took his first snaps at FSU. Nothing really to take away from. His speed is as advertised, did a good job extending plays. On 3rd and 16 pass batted down and on 4th and 16 Purdy rolled out and threw a great ball but it was dropped by Helton at the 2-yard line.
A defensive stop got Purdy another drive with 2 minutes left, but more offensive procedural penalties (false start) on Robert Scott, who would get hurt a few plays later. Another drop results in a 3rd and 15. Purdy throws too high and it was nearly intercepted. Norvell coached Purdy on the sideline after the play. A muffed punt by Louisville gave Purdy a third drive. Kentron Poitier dropped a fade touchdown. Next play Purdy throws late and behind Poitier on a slant. 4th and goal, Poitier drops a back shoulder dime throw in the end zone. Some good reps I suppose.