TAMPA, Fla. – Florida State looks to get back to its winning ways Saturday in a non-conference, intra-state showdown with the South Florida Bulls. Here’s a look at the names, numbers and notes you need to know before kickoff.
No. 13 Florida State (2-1, 0-1 ACC) at South Florida (3-0, 0-0 AAC)
When/Where: Saturday, noon/Raymond James Stadium (65,890) in Tampa, Fla.
TV/Radio: ABC/Seminole IMG Radio Network; FSU Broadcast Live Stream
Florida State injury report:
WR Keith Gavin (foot)
QB Sean Maguire (foot)
Out For Game
OL Corey Martinez (knee)
DE Josh Sweat (knee)
DT Darvin Taylor (shoulder)
DE Keith Bryant (foot)
DB Derwin James (knee)
Out For Season
WR George Campbell (core muscle)
South Florida Bulls
Coach: Willie Taggart (17-23 in four seasons at USF, 33-43 overall)
Last game: USF’s Rodney Adams scored three touchdowns as the Bulls erased a 17-point deficit on their way to a 45-20 victory at Syracuse. Running back Marlon Mack added 115 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.
Last game vs. Florida State: Dalvin Cook ran for 266 yards – the second-highest total in FSU history – as the Seminoles pulled away from the Bulls in the second half for a 34-14 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2015.
South Florida vs. Florida State all-time: FSU leads the all-time series 2-1 and is 1-0 in Tampa.
2009: South Florida 17, No. 8 FLORIDA STATE 7
2012: No. 4 Florida State 30, SOUTH FLORIDA 17
2015: No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 34, South Florida 14
2016: No. 13 Florida State at SOUTH FLORIDA, Saturday, noon
One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game
USF: Flowers and Mack grab most of the headlines, but USF’s Rodney Adams is dangerous as both a runner and a receiver. The senior already owns school records for single-season receiving yardage and touchdowns, and he’s averaging more than 80 total yards per game with a team-high six touchdowns this year.
On defense, linebacker Auggie Sanchez has been a stalwart with the Bulls for several years, and, unsurprisingly, he leads the Bulls in both tackles and sacks.
FSU: The Bulls feature some of the best run-stopping defensive linemen in the country, which means FSU may have to click in the passing game before opening some rushing lanes for Dalvin Cook. Call it a hunch, but Jesus Wilson enjoyed an exceptional game when he visited Orlando a few weeks ago. And, against a USF secondary that sometimes struggles with tackling, Wilson could be in for another big day.
While FSU’s defense has had an uneven start to the season, DeMarcus Walkerhas more than lived up to his hype as a potential All-American. Pro Football Focus rates Walker as the second-most productive pass-rusher in the country and, with many Seminoles still finding their footing in the back seven, the senior leader may need to carry a heavy load for his teammates once again.
Total offense: FSU: 434.0 YPG (55th nationally); USF: 518.7 YPG (18th)
Scoring offense: FSU: 39.0 PPG (37th); USF: 49.7 PPG (7th)
Passing offense: FSU: 267.0 YPG (35th); USF: 271.7 YPG (33rd)
Rushing offense: FSU: 167.0 YPG (73rd); USF: 247.0 (19th)
Total defense: FSU: 401.3 YPG (81st); USF: 386.3 YPG (70th)
Scoring defense: FSU: 48.5 PPG (120th); USF: 19.0 PPG (53rd)
Passing defense: FSU: 223.7 YPG (68th); USF: 225.3 YPG (70th)
Rushing defense: FSU: 177.7 YPG (93rd); UL: 161.0 YPG (87th)
Noteworthy number, courtesy of Pro Football Focus: USF’s run defense will try to keep Dalvin Cook under wraps, but the Bulls’ secondary could be a weakness for FSU to exploit. Per PFF, USF DBs have combined to miss 15 tackles, which could provide an opportunity for Florida State’s receivers to break free and grab some run-after-catch yardage.
“It’s up to us as the leaders to influence the rest of the guys and I think we did a good job of that. I’m excited for the week of practice and Saturday, to redeem myself.” – FSU CB Marquez White
“They are going to play some NFL players over there from FSU. This is (our) chance to show that we can play with them.” – USF coach Willie Taggart
“I think it will be critical. I hope so. I hope we see a lot of our fans down there, I really do. Looking forward to that. When you’re on the road, you want as many people with you as you possibly can. There’s no doubt about that.” – FSU coach Jimbo Fisher on potentially seeing extra FSU fans in the crowd on Saturday
Florida State’s history in Tampa goes almost all the way to the birth of the program. The Seminoles’ first appearance in a bowl game came in the 1950 Cigar Bowl, played at Tampa’s Phillips Field, which is now the site of a preparatory school. Led by the likes of Red Parrish and Buddy Strauss, coach Don Veller’s Seminoles upset Wofford, 19-6.
Freshman Eleonora Omoregie’s second NCAA Championships appearance of the year included two clearances but ended with an exit at 1.82 meters to place 15thand earn second-team All-American honors.
“Eleonora was battling the entire competition,” Braman said. “She and Coach Nobles made good adjustments and she just missed on her third attempt. It was a great freshman year – a double ACC champion and second-team All-American.”
With a second-attempt clearance at 1.78 meters (5-10), her second clearance of the day, Omoregie out-performed her seed (16th) and cleared one more bar than she did when she placed 11th at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Couple that group with freshman Veronika Kanuchova, who was fourth in the hammer, 100-meter hurdles qualifying underclassmen Peta-Gay Williams and Cortney Jones, and 400-meter qualifier Shaquania Dorsett, and the Noles have a strong base to go along with one of the nation’s top signing classes.
Ira Schoffel of Warchant.com spoke to former FSU assistants Mickey Andrews and George Henshaw about what it takes to bounce back from a big loss.
Safid Deen of the Orlando Sentinel writes that the FSU defense is looking to wash away last week’s loss at Louisville.
Gary Shelton of SaintPetersblog says that a win over the Seminoles would be the biggest in USF’s history.
Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times tells the Bulls to beware of an FSU team backed into a corner.
Placed between high-profile ACC games against Louisville and North Carolina, this game always had the makings of a trap for Florida State. The good news is that the Seminoles aren’t likely to let anyone sneak up on them after last week’s loss at Louisville. But the not-so-good news is that the Bulls so far have looked even better than their preseason billing and, after seeing FSU look vulnerable a week ago, will no doubt be plenty confident on Saturday.
FSU however, still has advantages in both depth and talent and, with its back against the wall, should be able to get out of Tampa with both a win and some positive energy before resuming ACC play next week. Just don’t be surprised if the Seminoles need to do some heavy lifting in the fourth quarter before they can exhale.