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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame vs FSU | Keys to the Game

October 9, 2020

Florida State has a new quarterback and he looked good in his first extended chance to run the offense. Jordan Travis passed for 12.4 yards per attempt, ran for 48 yards, and led the team to a comeback win with the offense averaging 7.6 yards per play when he took over.

Travis is clearly the best choice to be their quarterback, but all of that production came against FCS Jacksonville State. Notre Dame’s going to be bringing a defense that is quite a bit more talented than that one.

While I expect their offense to be better than their first two games, it’s still going to be very difficult for Florida State to pull off an upset based on what we have seen from the entire team so far this season. There are some glaring numbers that explain why it’s unlikely.

I highlighted those and added in some more key factors to watch out for on Saturday.

Can’t protect the quarterback

Florida State is 67th out of 74 teams in opponent sack rate. Their offensive line hasn’t been very good and they’ve dealt with injuries on top of that. Left tackle Darius Washington has already given up 11 pressures on the season and that’s with missing a good chunk of the last game for FSU.

Right now they are throwing the football 56.17% of the time and if they don’t have success running against Notre Dame, the percentage is likely going to be around that on Saturday. Notre Dame’s defensive linemen are going to have a chance to make a big impact when rushing Travis.

Notre Dame has pressured opposing passers on 44% of drop backs through the first two games of the season.

Can’t get after the quarterback

On the other side of the ball, FSU’s pass rush hasn’t been the factor it was projected to be. They are 64th in sack rate and the lack of pressure on the quarterback has made them one of the worst teams in the country on 3rd down.

They’re allowing the opposition to convert 52.38% of the time. They are letting opposing quarterbacks complete 78.3%(!) of passes on 3rd down.

PFF has them with only a 22% pressure rate, which is the worst in the entire ACC.

It’s really difficult to win football games when a team is bad at protecting their own quarterback and not good at pressuring the other team’s quarterback. Unless they are drastically better at both in this game, it’s tough to see them being in a position to win.

- FSU’s offense wants to play at a fast tempo. They average 81 plays per game (13th) and if they are rolling with first downs, they are going to get on the ball quickly, which makes it difficult to get in substitutions.

- They have turned the ball over seven times (tied for 67th). They are a very undisciplined football team. Knowing that makes Mike Norvell lashing out publicly at his team for practicing poorly not at all surprising.

They are 67th in penalty yards per game and only three other teams in the country gave up more penalty yards per game last season. Yes, they had a good second half last week and showed some fight, but that doesn’t mean they have magically turned the corner.

- They have blocked three field goals and that’s something to monitor for Notre Dame’s kicking team. Jon Doerer has to get the ball up because Janarius Robinson and Marvin Wilson have blocked low kicks.

- Travis has rushed for 6.37 yards per carry and stopping him as a runner is going to be as important as anything else Notre Dame does on defense in this game. They are likely going to attack the mesh as much as possible to try and disrupt the zone read runs and RPOs.

- Beware the deep ball with the way Travis threw it last week. Tamorrion Terry is a big play threat and Travis completed 4 of 6 passes of 20 yards or longer for 140 yards against Jacksonville State.

Duke’s Chase Brice and South Florida’s quarterbacks were 1 for 11 for 36 yards throwing the deep ball against the Irish, but FSU’s receivers are much better than what Duke and USF have on their roster. C

an their line protect long enough against Notre Dame for him to take those shots down the field? That’s the important question.

- Running backs Jashaun Corbin and Lawrance Toafili have combined for 15 catches on 20 targets. They’ve done some damage in the screen game for FSU.

Notre Dame gave up three receptions to backs in the first two games. Those receptions totalled -9 yards.

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