September 19, 2019 - by
Football Round-Up: Noles Trying New Options, Prepping For Run-Heavy Cards

WATCH: Willie Taggart, Sept. 19

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It might not be a permanent move.

But, at first blush, it’s a move that could make a lot of sense for the Florida State defense.

After spending the first three games of the season as an inside linebacker, sophomore Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, a former high school safety, has practiced this week with the outside linebackers. And junior Leonard Warner III seems to have shifted inside after first working with the outside group.

“Right now, we’re just trying to see what else we can do as a defense,” Lars-Woodbey said. “All I’m going to be able to do is work on a different craft. Right now, we don’t know if the move is permanent yet.”

No, but there’s reason to think that both players might benefit from a change.

Lars-Woodbey, at 6-3, 223 pounds, arrived at FSU with a background in the secondary and spent much of last season playing on the edge and in space.

And while Warner’s larger frame (6-4, 241) could be useful on the outside, he’s also built more like a traditional, space-filling inside linebacker.

“We’re just trying to get the best 11 on the field where they can maximize their abilities,” defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said. “…What you have to understand about those guys, he and Leonard both, they both are very unselfish football players. They want to do what’s best for the team, and so you got to love it about those guys.”

If the two do indeed make the switch for Saturday’s game against Louisville (3:30 p.m., ESPN), they likely won’t have to wait long to find out how well it works.

The Cardinals average more than 260 rushing yards per game, meaning that everyone in FSU’s front seven – Lars-Woodbey and Warner among them – will be tested.

“We’ll always do what’s best for the football team,” FSU head coach Willie Taggart said. “And I think it’s great when you have guys who are willing to do what’s best for the football team.”

Options for Hornibrook: Graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook has yet to take the field as a Florida State Seminole, but the quarterback has continued to push both himself and starter James Blackman on the practice fields.

And although a quarterback switch doesn’t appear to be under consideration, Taggart hinted on Thursday that he’d like to see what Hornibrook can do in a live game.

“Alex has been doing a good job for us,” Taggart said. “We have some plays and things where we want to be able to get Alex in, let him run some of those plays.

“Hopefully we get a chance to do that.”

Noles’ prepping for running Pass: Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass missed last week’s game against Western Kentucky with a foot injury, but the junior has reportedly returned to practice and his hopeful to play against the Seminoles.

And, no matter who is taking snaps for the Cardinals – Pass or reserve Malik Cunningham – the Seminoles will have their hands full with a dual-threat quarterback for the second consecutive week.

In addition to his 330 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception, Pass has accounted for more than 100 yards and 5.2 yards per carry on the ground. Pass threw for 306 yards, two TDs and two interceptions against the Seminoles last season.

“I think the Louisville quarterback is very talented, very athletic,” Taggart said “… He can put a move on you and has got a nice burst. He’s pretty fast. It’s going to be a challenge for our guys. And we’ve got to contain him and we’ve got to hit him when he runs the ball.”

Injuries, status updates: Taggart didn’t officially rule out left tackle Jauan Williams for Saturday’s game, but he also didn’t sound particularly optimistic about Williams’ status, either.

Williams injured his ankle early in FSU’s win over ULM and hasn’t played since. Fellow senior Abdul Bello has filled in during Williams’ absence, and would likely do so again if Williams can’t play.

“As of right now, Jauan is not available,” Taggart said. “But we’ll keep going like we’ve been going.”

Elsewhere, Taggart confirmed that receiver D.J. Matthews will be active and available Saturday after missing last week’s game for failing to meet team expectations. Matthews is FSU’s second-leading receiver (11 catches, 66 yards) despite playing in only two games, and he also entered the season as FSU’s top-choice punt returner.

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