Welcome to the Line of Scrimmage, where ahead of each game this football season, we’re giving you insight into Florida State’s opponents from those in the know.
This week, we spoke with John Powell of our SB Nation sister site, Card Chronicle, to get a first-hand look into the Louisville Cardinals as Florida State football gets set to start ACC play. John gives us some analysis on the Cardinals’ season so far, how quarterback Malik Cunnigham has fared through two games, what causes concern in Louisville’s run game and more.
You can read some of his answers here and listen to the full interview below.
Louisville rolls into Friday’s game with a 1-1 record. From a non-Louisville insider perspective, I think most of us thought the Cardinals would be 2-0 at this point. What has been the main problem so far in the early season for Louisville?
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the cinematic masterpiece of Black Sheep, but there’s a scene where Chris Farley is falling down a hill like for a long duration of time and then at the end he’s like, “what the heck was that?” and that was basically watching the Syracuse game.
The staff made it very clear in the offseason that they wanted Malik to focus on improving as a pocket pocket passer — going through his progressions and that kind of stuff — and they were limiting some of his abilities with running. In the spring they came out and flat out said don’t run the ball, and honestly, he came out in the first game and it looked like he hadn’t run the ball in 10 months. Syracuse held him to like 2.6 yards of carry or something like that.
Malik Cunningham is not a pro quarterback prospect — he might be able to play at the next level at a different position, but I don’t think that he is at that caliber. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think there’s any type of development that they could have done this offseason that would have elevated him to becoming that caliber. I think it’s really just it hurt the team in general with the way they kind of came out. And we saw the the effects of that on UCF when Satterfield came out later and said, like, “yeah, we just gotta let him be him and play his game.” And then he goes for 120 yards.
Syracuse found success by bringing an extra rusher against Malik Cunningham and the offense. They were able to do this by mainly leaving their corners in one-on-one situations with the Louisville receivers. Gone are Jordan Watkins and Tyler Harrell. Which player at the position has the best chance to break out against FSU?
All offseason, we kept hearing about Tyler Hudson — he’s a transfer in from Central Arkansas, great wide receiver, all-FCS type player. And then in the first game, we saw Malik just key in on Hudson constantly. And he got his I mean, I think he had eight catches for over 100 yards in the game against Syracuse. But then we saw no distribution of the ball anywhere else. And so (against UCF), they got Mario Huggins the ball, they got Braden Smith invovled a little bit as well and I think those are two guys to kee an eye on.
Jumping over to the defensive side of the ball, Louisville’s defense has struggled so far against the run, allowing over 200 yards per game. What’s been the biggest culprit so far in Louisville’s run defense?
They’re not creating havoc, they’re not getting into the backfield, they’re not creating pressures and then that just opens up the game for all types of runs. It’s like okay, they’re alright, but we’re not seeing any superstars. The big offseason push was to boost the secondary because that was they were just getting torched.
Finally, what’s your general feeling for the game? The last time FSU started 2-0 in a season, their third game was the Lamar Jackson Heisman ceremony game. What’s your confidence level for Friday night?
I know Florida State’s in some down years by based on their standard, but every time we play, I just always have this in the back of my mind, like, “man, it’s Florida State, it’s gonna be a challenge.” Even if Louisville has maybe the superior team on paper, I always feel like it’s just going to be a dogfight. Before the season started, I think I picked this one as a win. But what I’ve seen from the Cardinals’ offense so far, just doesn’t give me a lot of confidence heading into this contest. Florida State is going to just run the football with probably a fair amount of success, if I had to guess and so it’s going to be up to the offense to keep up with what Florida State’s doing. And I don’t know if they have the the guys to do it.
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