Previewing the Florida State Seminoles vs. the USF Bulls in a season defining matchup
For a 3–0 South Florida Bulls team, the college football season starts here.
For a 2–1 Florida State Seminoles (13) team, their season is in dire straits after a 63–20 drubbing by Louisville.
Last year, USF and FSU went to halftime deadlocked 7–7. FSU took over the second half and eventually won 34–14. For the Bulls, they are facing retribution and destiny. FSU is back on the rocky road to becoming THE program in college football they were so recently in the Jameis era.
For the Bulls to dismiss FSU as vulnerable after such a defeat would be a mistake. FSU is still an extremely talented and potent football team that will come into Raymond James Stadium hungry to avenge last week’s loss.
Louisville’s defense shut down FSU QB Deondre Francois and held star RB Dalvin Cook to 57 yards. Cook also had trouble against Ole Miss. Ole Miss and Louisville combined for 8 sacks which points to a shaky offensive line that certainly hasn’t gelled early in the season.
The Bulls are coming off a cheeky win over Syracuse who was their most challenging opponent to date. The Bulls overcame a 17-point deficit in the 1st quarter by responding in the 2nd quarter with 28 unanswered. USF didn’t look back finishing off Syracuse 45–20.
Time of Possession
In USF’s win over Syracuse, Syracuse dominated time of possession.
In FSU’s loss to Louisville, FSU won the time of possession battle in all quarters but the 2nd.
Time of possession is a tricky statistic in today’s college football landscape, especially in the era of the hurry-up offense. USF feasts off of running the “Gulf Coast Offense”, which is an option based scheme that will occasionally take chances one-on-one down the field. For USF, it all takes one play.
FSU would love to be a Dalvin Cook centric offense but Cook hasn’t found his stride in two games against top-25 opponents. If the Bulls defense proves to be elite, they will continue the success of bottling up Cook who torched USF last year for 3 scores and 200+ yards.
If Cook returns to form and runs the Bulls defense tired, it could be a long night for USF and the time of possession factor could keep the Gulf Coast Offense off the field and out of rhythm.
Coming back from down 17-points against Syracuse is promising for the Gulf Coast Offense, but the FSU defense will prove to be a real test of USF’s blink of an eye offensive assault.
Neither team would like this to become a quarterback duel. If it does, the edge goes toward Francois.
FSU’s offense finds itself under some duress after losing senior QB Sean Maguire to injury before the season started. Redshirt freshman Deondre Francois has filled in admirably, but isn’t the second coming of Jameis Winston.
The USF defense will need to force Francois into making mistakes and containing his scrambling if he breaks out of the pocket.
FSU’s goal will be to force USF’s QB Quinton Flowers into long 3rd down situations and become a passing QB. Flowers isn’t a comfortable pocket passer and will break from the pocket at the first sign of pressure.
Flowers best bet is to go deep on the sidelines to Rodney Adams and Scantling. In order for Flowers to take over the game, he’ll have to get accurate passes over the middle and stay in the pocket if the running game gets shut down.
The main concern of a pass heavy game is the unpolished throwing mechanics of Francois and Flowers leading to errand passes and turnovers.
Expect a war of attrition.
To avoid becoming a one dimensional team, USF will go to running back Marlon Mack early and often, in hopes he will take off. If that happens, the horses will be unleashed, and FSU will be in trouble because Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson will be laying in wait ready to pounce.
FSU will do the same with a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook and he’s a beast on his own merit. If Cook gets going early, this will open up play action for Francois and time in the pocket to pick apart the Bulls secondary.
It’s hard to bet against the Nole’s, but it’s just as difficult to count the Bulls out with how scrappy their play has been.
If FSU coach Jimbo Fisher does his homework, he should be able to exploit the weak points in the Bulls passing game and pass defense, as long as the Noles limit their mistakes. The Bulls capitalize on their opponents getting caught in misdirection plays and weak arm tackles.
The case for USF is certainly there. The swagger and personality is definitely there, plus the vengeance of last year’s loss, but football is here and now, and FSU has their own frustrations to take out on USF following a loss. A second straight FSU loss would plummet their season.
In other words, the young college football season is on the line for both teams. USF seeking top-25 legitimacy, FSU looking to keep their major bowl game hopes alive.
Expect a high scoring affair.
The game will be on September 24th, at noon at Raymond James Stadium, and broadcasted nationally on ABC.