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FSU football opponent Q&A: Jacksonville State Gamecocks

How will FSU respond to the OT loss to Notre Dame?

Don Juan Moore

We’re very fortunate to have the SB Nation network of team sites to work with during game weeks. Unfortunately, there is no team site for this week’s opponent, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, who hail from the Ohio Valley Conference.

So instead we will be talking with Coach Adam Brown, who has spent the last three days — or three decades? — in a dark basement just grinding Jacksonville State’s film for us. I bet he’s doing it on one of those old rusty film projectors you see in the movies, pointed at a wall in the back in a dark room. Like the ones from pre-digital film days, you know, where the film strips come in those big flat aluminum tins the size of trashcan lids? How do you even load one of those things? Does it work like loading a magazine clip for a Tommy gun, or do you have to take the film out? Especially while smoking, which everyone did back then. I feel like you couldn’t get a job as a film projector person without having a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. Does the film get manufactured in one long strip or do you have to cut and glue them together? What if the strip gets stuck back on itself like a piece of scotch tape, can you just pull on it to straighten it bac— oh, sorry. Ahem.

TN: After an exhilarating, sloppy, heartbreaking, and yet also kind of hopeful overtime loss to Notre Dame last week, just how important is it for Florida State to respond with a good effort and performance against Jacksonville State this weekend? Last season the Gamecocks jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over FSU. If the Seminoles come out flat on Saturday should fans be worried that it signals this program hasn’t come as far as we’d hoped? Or would it be making a mountain out of a molehill?

CoachAB: I think it would be fair to question the progress. However, a short week on the heels of an emotional game against an FCS opponent it wouldn’t shock me to see some rustiness early. The fact this is another night game should help combat that. I also think we have some proof of concept as far as the newfound leadership on this team.

TN: Lose a lot, lose a little, win a little, win a lot. A ways back we agreed that this is the ‘lose a little’ season, and the Notre Dame game did nothing to dispel that notion. Did the game do anything to cause you to revise any of your opinions about the expectations of this season or the direction this program appears to be headed? Can we pencil in one or two more wins or should we pump the brakes a little?

CoachAB: I’m going to keep my 6-6 projection for the time being (want to see them against Wake). I do think it is fair to start looking at some of the 50/50 games and think you might now be a favorite in those. I want to see this team come out and show the same level of focus against Jax State. They really missed a big win opportunity Sunday night.

TN: Last year before the Jacksonville State game I asked you a hypothetical question about moving on from quarterback James Blackman and starting a new era with one of the young quarterbacks in Tate Rodemaker or Chubba Purdy. That now feels like ancient history. With their respective performances against the Irish, how would you manage Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton both in this game and going forward this season?

CoachAB: Depending on Milton’s health and availability, I would start Milton and bring Jordan in. Milton would be 25 snaps or so in this game to just continue to ease him back into live game action and protect that leg. This is a good opportunity to work on your passing game and try to get a rhythm going there. There’s a good chance you see three or more QBs this weekend.

TN: A former blue chip QB prospect, Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper threw for 7.7 yards per attempt against Florida State last season in what was eventually a 41-24 win for the ’Noles. However, last week against UAB Cooper averaged an abysmal 2.8 yards per attempt on 34 attempts; just a paltry 88 total yards passing. The Gamecocks never scored, and lost 31-0. Schematically, how did UAB shut Cooper and the Jax St offense down and after FSU’s performance against Notre Dame should we expect Florida State to replicate UAB’s defensive performance against the Gamecocks?

CoachAB: The talent level at the skill positions for Jax St is not what it was last year. Not 100% sure what happened but they have really fallen off. UAB swallowed up the run game and manned up outside. UAB also ran a lot of 12 personnel which put Jax St in a bind. I think FSU can really do whatever they want in this game as long as they are executing. Cooper actually threw the ball well but he got no help from his skill guys. Tackling these quick RPO throws will be important.

TN: When one team has such a wide talent advantage over the other, how much do the X’s and O’s matter? Assuming FSU doesn’t treat this game like a pure scrimmage, how would you anticipate FSU’s offense will attack Jacksonville State’s weaknesses on defense?

CoachAB: I think FSU continues to do much of the same. They want to run inside zone and counter trey no matter what. They are going to stay true to who they are and attack you formationally with those plays. I hope they make a point to throw the ball more on early downs and try to create some confidence with your passing game.

TN: Last year in this matchup Lawrance Toafili, Jashaun Corbin, Jordan Travis, and La’Damian Webb collectively rushed for 265 yards at a 5.6 yard per rush clip. What would be reasonable goals for this year’s contest? Can you also give us a yards per play allowed benchmark for the defense that would leave you feeling good about their performance?

CoachAB: I think you see fewer rushing yards should be expected but perhaps a better YPR. Maybe some thing like 6 YPR and 200 yards but a better passing performance than we saw last year.

Defensively, I want to see a YPP in the 2 range. They should dominate this offense if they play with similar motivation.

TN: Give us a game and score prediction — how comfortably does FSU walk away with the win?

CoachAB: FSU 42 - Jax St 6

A big thank you again to Coach for taking the time. Also check out the latest episode of The Triple Option as well as the X’s and nOles Youtube series.