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irish insider

Head-to-Head: Florida State Seminoles

| Friday, October 9, 2020

Notre Dame Passing

Given Ian Book’s status as a third-year starter and fifth-year senior captain, as well as Florida State’s recent struggles, it would easy to chalk this up as a Notre Dame advantage. That said, the perplexing thing about the Seminoles is their struggles in spite of how much talent they have, especially on the defensive side. Junior cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. has three interceptions through three contests for the Seminoles and senior Hamsah Nasirildeen got preseason love at safety. Book and the Irish receivers didn’t have a great connection in the first two games, and he’s lacked practice time with them and his running backs/tight ends the last two weeks, so Florida State seems to have an advantage here.

EDGE: Florida State

 

Notre Dame Rushing

Notre Dame surprised many by going to the ground game to trounce USF in their last game, and expect the Irish to keep pounding the rock. While Florida State has not given up a 100-yard rusher this year, they have struggled when faced with a multi-pronged attack, giving up 200 yards on the ground — on 5.4 yards per pop — to the Miami Hurricanes. The Irish can attack the Seminoles with Chris Tyree, Kyren Williams and C’Bo Flemister, while adding in the mobility of Book under center. There’s too much here for Florida State to handle effectively, given their defensive struggles so far. 

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame Offensive Coaching 

Notre Dame went to a run-heavy scheme against USF, which has tended to be a strength of Florida State’s first-year defensive coordinator Adam Fuller. Fuller will have to counter a lot of Irish weapons, while figuring out how to account for Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees offensive scheme. Rees has used his tight ends abundantly through two games and gets transfer receiver Ben Skowronek back. His play calling has been pretty solid, and he’s getting some extra weapons. Rees gets the edge, given that Fuller’s unit just gave up 24 points to FCS opponent Jacksonville State.

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Notre Dame Offensive Special Teams

Florida State’s special teams unit might be considered a bright spot this season, or at least relative to their other struggles. From a coverage perspective they are allowing 5.5 yards on punt returns and just 18.7 on kickoffs. Notre Dame’s kickoff return game has gotten a boost from placing freshman running back Chris Tyree back there, but he hasn’t faced the test of FSU as of yet. The Irish do have a relatively proven commodity in senior Jonathan Doerer at kicker, even though he missed a field goal against South Florida. The Seminoles have actually blocked two field goals this year, but both were against Georgia Tech, and the Irish are certainly better at protecting their kicker than the Yellowjackets. All-in-all this seems like a balanced matchup, but for Doerer’s consistency Notre Dame gets a slight edge.

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Florida State Passing

This might be the most lopsided section, as the Irish have limited opposing quarterbacks to 49% passing through two games, and Florida State is on their third quarterback in the season, giving the start to Jordan Travis this weekend. Notre Dame returns stud sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton, and you have to figure Clark Lea’s unit will start forcing more turnovers than they have so far. Big edge to the Irish here. 

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Florida State Rushing

Despite all the question marks that surround this Florida State offense, there’s one certainty — they will be running the ball and the Notre Dame defensive line ought to be prepared. With Jordan Travis at the helm, expect him to play out of the pocket, often scrambling when the Notre Dame defense closes in on him. In addition to Travis, Seminole freshman running back Lawrence Toafili has recently emerged on the scene, recording nearly 100 yards against Jacksonville State. With a newfound confidence, Toafili could certainly give the Seminoles another look down the middle. This team certainly has talented but unproven pieces that could test the Irish line but ultimately Clark Lea and company will stand tall on this one.

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Florida State Offensive Coaching

First-year offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kenny Dillingham has nothing short of a mess on his hands in Tallahassee. The era of redshirt junior quarterback James Blackman may be over as he was pulled against Miami for true freshman Tate Rodemaker, who was then pulled after starting against Jacksonville State in favor of redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis, now listed as QB1 against Notre Dame. Regardless of what Dillingham has to work with at the revolving door that is their quarterback position, their running backs haven’t shown anything of worth other than against Jacksonville State, and even then it took them until the second half to figure it out on the ground. Defensive coordinator Clark Lea shouldn’t have too difficult a time corralling Florida State’s offense, if you can even call it that.

EDGE: Notre Dame

 

Florida State Offensive Special Teams

Florida State’s kicking situation seems to be meandering. They’re 3-5 on the year with redshirt junior Parker Grothaus missing a 46-yarder against Georgia Tech and redshirt freshman Ryan Fitzgerald missing one from 49 yards against Jacksonville State; Fitzgerald also missed an extra point against JSU. As for returns, they average seven yards on punts and over 25 yards on kickoff returns, but weaker competition helped pad the former stat and the problem for the Seminoles against Miami was in getting the defense off the field by forcing punts. Suffice to say there is very little outstanding about the Seminole special teams, but against a Notre Dame unit shaking the rust off, they can break even on this matchup.

EDGE: Even

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