Take Five Breakdown: Florida-Florida State Preview

Nov 26, 2021 | 0 comments


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Florida takes on Florida State with a bowl game bid on the line on Saturday afternoon in the Swamp. Calvin Sonalia, a writer for the student-run FSView & Florida Flambeau, here is the Take Five Preview of the Florida State Seminoles.

Jermaine Johnson, Defensive End, Redshirt Senior

  • The Skinny: Johnson has been a force to be reckoned with no matter who the Seminoles’ played in 2021. He enters the regular-season finale leading the ACC with 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He had three-sack games against Jacksonville State and Miami and has recorded a sack in seven of the first 11 games of the 2021 season. In a twist of irony, Johnson transferred from the Georgia Bulldogs after playing in Athens the past two seasons and he could play a key role in ending the Gators' nightmarish 2021 season with a loss and no bowl game for the third time in nine years.

Amari Gainer, Linebacker, Redshirt Sophomore


  • The Skinny: Gainer has plenty of experience as a three-year starter. According to Sonalia, Gainer has been the stud linebacker for FSU this season and has proven his ability to chase down running backs. Gainer stands fifth on the team with 54 tackles and has 5.5 tackles for loss. I expect Gainer to be ready and waiting to make plays on the Gator ball carriers if they can slip by the defensive line.

Jordan Travis, Quarterback, Redshirt Sophomore

  • The Skinny: Many people were not expecting Travis to hold down the QB1 role with UCF transfer McKenzie Milton transferring in during the off-season. After being pulled in the season opener vs Notre Dame and playing sparingly the following week against Jacksonville State, Travis slowly won back the job and has led the team on a 5-1 stretch after a 0-4 start to the season. During that six-game run, Travis has thrown 10 touchdown passes to one interception, the interception came against Syracuse over six weeks ago. His mobility has been a big factor with two games over 100 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. According to Sonalia, Travis was on a short leash in the early part of the season, but Norvell has allowed him to bring his own spark to the offense. If the Noles want to win, Travis will have to keep up this solid run of play and not turn the ball over to the Gators.

Jashaun Corbin, Running Back, Redshirt Sophomore (Texas A&M Transfer)

  • The Skinny: Corbin came to Tallahassee before the 2020 season and made his presence felt with 548 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns last season. He has taken over the RB1 role in 2021 and has not disappointed – leading the team with 137 carries, 877 rushing yards, and seven rushing touchdowns. Corbin is a solid receiver out of the backfield with 22 receptions and a touchdown through the air. I would expect Corbin to get the ball early and often to pound away at the Gators' front seven.

Treshaun Ward, Running Back, Redshirt Freshman

  • The Skinny: Ward was buried on the depth chart in 2019 and 2020 where he was awarded an FSU offense scout team award. Ward has waited for his time and has shined as the other half of a lethal 1-2 punch in the backfield for the Noles. His stats are not as gaudy as Corbin’s, but he has been a nice, speedy complement to the powerful Corbin with 77 carries, 490 rushing yards, and three touchdowns to go along with 19 receptions for 193 yards. Do not be surprised if Mike Norvell tries to grind down the Gator defense by giving Ward and Corbin more than 10 carries each in the first half.

Five Fast Facts

  • Florida leads the all-time series 36-26-2 and won the previous two matchups in 2018 and 2019 by a combined score of 81-31. Florida State has won 4 of the last 5 matchups in Gainesville.
  • This will be the first time that Mike Norvell is facing the Gators as a head coach. During his career as a head coach, he has a record of 16-4 in November.
  • The Seminoles rank 3rd in the ACC and 9th in the FBS division in red zone defense by only giving up a score in the red zone at a rate of 70%.
  • Since the start of October, the Seminoles rank second in the ACC in total defense and pass defense. The defense ranks second in the ACC with 11 interceptions and 17 takeaways in 2021. They have recorded an interception in seven consecutive games, which is the longest such streak since for the program since 2007.
  • The Seminoles offense is #1 in the ACC in Red Zone touchdown percentage at 71.8 with 28 touchdowns in 39 attempts. That number is good enough for 11th in the FBS division as they have converted 29 consecutive red-zone trips into points.

Five Game Day Storylines

Can the FSU defense stop the Gator run game?

  • The Gator rushing offense has dropped off considerably over the past month but still ranks 9th in the Power 5 conferences in rushing yards per game. Florida State ranks 58th in run defense by giving up 145.1 rushing yards per game. With the trajectory of the Gators run game going down and the Seminole defense rising, I could envision the Noles’ front seven stopping Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce, and Nay’Quan Wright while forcing Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson to win the game through the air. “It would be most advisable for the Gators to try to move the ball through the air,” Sonalia said.

Can Jordan Travis carry the offense if the run combo of Corbin and Ward are shut down?

  • Last week against Missouri, the Gator defense did a fine job shutting down the SEC’s leading rusher (Tyler Badie) in the first half, but eventually wore down in the second half and overtime. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens since the Seminoles have two backs they can count on. While Badie was being shut down, Connor Bazelak and the Missouri offense could not do much more than kick field goals. The strength of Travis’ game is his legs and the Gator have quality defensive backs who can make plays, so I do not see the Noles being successful on offense if Travis must win the game with his arm.

Will the crowd play a role in rattling the Florida State team?

  • In all reality, I would expect the Gator nation to show up in full force due to the rejuvenation to the program after the firing of Dan Mullen, a bowl game appearance on the line for both teams and it being the final home game for the Seniors. With that being said, the FSU roster has seen their fair share of rowdy environments over the past couple of years and the Swamp will not be any different. If the crowd stays in the game for all four quarters, then I could see crowd noise becoming a factor and affecting the Seminoles as it did to Alabama.

If the Noles jump out to a big lead, will Mike Norvell keep his foot on the gas?

  • I’ve raised this question a couple of times because of the relationship, or lack thereof, between Dan Mullen and SEC coach counterparts. Regardless of who oversees the Gators, I would expect any FSU head coach to want to bury their archrival and use it as a recruiting tool. With the big three of Florida all struggling, Florida State will want to win this game and claim they are the top team in the state and can do that since they would have beaten Florida and Miami.

How much of an advantage do the Seminoles have with Greg Knox running the show for the Gators?

  • Mike Norvell has been a head coach for six years and understands everything that comes with the role. For interim head coach Greg Knox, this will be the second time he will be in the role after leading Mississippi State to a bowl game win after the 2017 season when Dan Mullen was hired by Florida. The system will be the same but the pressure of trying to get a win and a bowl appearance may turn out to be too much pressure for Knox. As mentioned in the Samford preview, I felt as if the Samford head coach Chris Hatcher was going play mind games and run circles around first-time defensive coordinator Christian Robinson, and he did for 2 ½ quarters. It will be interesting to see if the same effect comes into play with Norvell and Knox because if the Gators fall behind by two touchdowns, I do not think they will be fortunate enough to “out-athlete” the other team.

Game Prediction

Florida 27, Florida State 24

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