TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Busy Saturdays mean that Jimbo Fisher usually doesn’t catch up with the week’s college football action until well after Florida State’s game is over, sometimes not even until Sunday. But after wrapping up his staff meetings on Friday night, Fisher turned on the TV and was surprised to see the Louisville Cardinals – FSU’s next opponent – playing at Syracuse. “I didn’t really realize they were playing, happened to turn the TV on,” Fisher said. “I live in my own little world sometimes, trying to get ready.”
Safe to say that the Cardinals now have Fisher’s full attention. Louisville throttled Syracuse, 62-28, and appears to have a quickly rising star in the form of quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The Seminoles, freshly minted at No. 2 in the latest Amway Coaches Poll, will visit the 10th-ranked Cardinals at noon on Saturday.
The nation will take notice, too: ESPN’s College Gameday announced Saturday that it would originate from Louisville for the first time, and the show will lead right into a national telecast of the game on ABC.
A sophomore from Boynton Beach, Fla., Louisville’s Jackson has scored 13 touchdowns in just two games, and he’s already accounted for 1,015 total yards (697 passing, 318 rushing).
Jackson and his teammates will face a big step up in competition when the Seminoles visit, but Louisville’s accomplishments have still made waves in the FSU football offices.
“They looked awesome,” Fisher said. “Very athletic, got playmakers all over the field on offense, guys on defense can cover, run and rush, kicking game very solid.
“Bobby (Petrino) is a heck of a football coach. He does a great job. I mean, they’re an excellent, excellent football team. They looked as sharp as anybody to me.”
Last year, the Seminoles saw firsthand what Jackson can do.
FSU beat Louisville 41-21 at Doak Campbell Stadium, but Jackson, then a freshman, threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinals, who held a lead midway through the third quarter.
At the time, those were career-highs for Jackson. But they pale in comparison to what he’s done so far in 2016.
“Like I said last year, he’s fast as heck,” FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker said. “I see his throwing motion has gotten better, I see that he has worked on that.
“As a leader, I’ve got to get my team ready.”
This week will mark Florida State’s second trip to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium since UL joined the ACC in 2014.
The Seminoles’ Thursday-night visit there two years ago still stands as one of the most memorable triumphs of the Fisher era. FSU fell behind 21-0 but, on the strength of two second-half touchdowns from Dalvin Cook, stormed back for a 42-31 win.
At the time, it was the largest comeback for a victory in Florida State history, only recently eclipsed by FSU’s 22-point rally against Ole Miss last week.
The Seminoles expect another test on their return trip.
“Preparation is key, and (we have to) make sure we’re on point,” Walker said. “I’ve got to do like I did against Chad Kelly (the Ole Miss quarterback whom Walker sacked 4 ½ times). Not scheme-wise, but by studying (Jackson) and breaking him down. We need to go out there and play good football.”