A Tussle In Tallahassee
Louisville vs Florida State……..
Not exactly a rivalry of any sort, and unless you’re a Cardinal fan this is probably just another game on the schedule. But for UofL, playing the likes of Florida State in the past and in the present has come to mean a great deal to the Cardinals and where they stand in the eyes of others from a respect standpoint. I can remember the game in 2002 that helped pave a path for Louisville Football’s up and coming relevance like it was yesterday. For once, the local meteorologists nailed their forecast when calling for rain on that magical night and a monsoon proceeded to take place. What also took place was a win for the ages as the Cards beat a fourth ranked FSU squad 26-20 setting off a wet and wild storming of the field and the destruction of two goal posts. Unfortunately, I did not witness the awesomeness in person as I wimped out of battling Mother Nature and gave my ticket to a close friend……a dumb move that I still regret to this day. Nonetheless, it happened and I’ll forever hold a special place in my heart for Henry Miller.
Henry Miller scores winning TD in ’02
Fast forward from that shocker in 2002 up to last season when FSU would again visit a newer, more modern PJCS carrying yet again top 5 national ranking and this go around the title of defending national champs. While UofL came up short in that game thanks in large part to their forgetting how to tackle and the talents of Jameis Winston, Nick O’Leary and Dalvin Cook (more on Cook later), the fact that UofL played the highly touted Noles to the wire again gave credibility to a program starving for respect and reverence from it’s fellow ACC brethren. So in a nutshell, playing Florida State, despite the positive or negative outcomes, has been terrific for the University of Louisville. Tomorrow will be no different. FSU will be hosting a UofL team in Doak Campbell Stadium at noon that is vehemently clamoring for a “signature win” in this 2015 season. The Cards had a golden opportunity to grab such a win against ACC foe Clemson a few weeks back but fell short by a field goal. Beating FSU on the road will assuredly prove to be just as difficult however, so if UofL has any hopes of walking out of The Sunshine State with a win they’d better come fully prepared to control the ball and find Dalvin Cook on every…..single……snap.
FSU running back Dalvin Cook
For my money, Dalvin Cook is one of the top 2 or 3 running backs in all of college football. Yes, Leonard Fournette of LSU is terrific but Dalvin is simply dangerous and dazzling. The kid hits a hole like lighting from a rain cloud. His speed and evasiveness make him virtually impossible to corral, thus setting him up to be a threat to score on virtually every play he touches the pigskin. Louisville found this out last year the hard way after Cook relieved an injured Karlos Williams and then proceeded to run rough shod over UofL amassing 110 yards (seemed like a thousand) and two TDs. If Cook continues to play at the same level that he has shown thus far, one would have to think that he’ll be in the discussion for an invite to NYC for the Heisman Award Show.
The silver lining in all of this is that I do have faith in Todd Grantham’s defense, particularly the linebacker corps of Brown, Burgess and Kelsey. Louisville doesn’t have to SHUT DOWN Cook, they just need to minimize damage and somehow force quarterback Everett Golson to beat them with his arm. Despite having a clean record thus far in ’15, Golson has shown to be turnover happy in the past as evidenced by his lackluster performance last season when he and his Notre Dame squad were beaten in South Bend by the Cardinals due in large part to Golson’s inability to protect the ball. Of course, it should be noted that keeping Cook in check still won’t guarantee a win tomorrow for UofL. The Noles are littered with talent all over their roster. On the flip side, FSU has not exactly been dominant in any of their previous 5 wins thus far this year. It is of my opinion that UofL will be the best all around team that FSU will have faced up to this point when they kick things off. But despite UofL having somewhat comparable talent and speed, FSU has the advantage of playing in their back yards tomorrow and that matters. Not only has FSU won 17 straight at home, they have also reeled off 27 straight in the ACC. So, until somebody in the conference starts beating the Noles every once in a while, they will continue to be the measuring stick for everyone else, Louisville included.
Keys for Louisville tomorrow if they want to walk away with a season changing win……
- Do not fall behind early
- Win the turnover battle (this applies to every damn game though)
- Use the middle of the field in the passing game (tight end – Mickey Crum)
- Amass 75-100 yards on the ground by a RB (Brandon Radcliff where are you?)
- Survive the madness / minimize Tomahawk chops
Louisville Freshman Tight End Micky Crum
Sounds simple enough right? I won’t hold my breath. But, I also won’t write the Cards off until I see it happen on my flat screen. The thing that scares me the most in this game isn’t so much FSU’s talent and prestige. Instead, it’s Louisville’s youth – particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Kudos should be given for the way that UofL played in Raleigh two weeks ago. But comparing NC State to Florida State (at least this year) is simply apples to oranges. Two weeks ago the Wolfpack forced Lamar Jackson to thrown the ball in the second half by containing him in the pocket – that didn’t work out too well for Bobby Petrino’s offense. You know that Jimbo Fisher and his staff are already prepared to NOT let Lamar Jackson beat them with his legs. That’s not to say that Jackson won’t make some big plays on the ground because I believe he will. But, he is gonna HAVE to make some accurate throws tomorrow to keep the offense on the field and keep the clock running. My hope is that the freshmen continue to grow up right in front of our eyes and that guys like James Quick will show their upper classmen leadership by making plays on the field and not dropping passes.
Should be a good one tomorrow. Go Cards! Go ACC!