Preview: Virginia at Florida State

What to expect as the Seminoles host the Cavaliers

FSU Offense vs. UVA Defense

This is a strength-on-strength matchup as Virginia’s defense is very good. It all starts up front for the Cavaliers, as UVA has one of the best defensive lines I’ve seen this season. Virginia’s front seven is not quite at the level of the Clemson front, but they’re on par with Notre Dame and probably a little better than Louisville (who UVA beat).

Cam Erving will have his hands full with defensive end Eli Harold, a Vic Beasley clone who is explosive off the edge and shows natural pass rush instincts. Harold is bigger than Beasley and isn’t quite the liability against the run, either. The bigger concern for FSU, however, will be Virginia’s terrific trio of defensive tackles, who will test FSU’s banged-up offensive interior.

The Cavs secondary is comparable to what FSU saw last week against Louisville. Both safeties, senior Anthony Harris and true freshman Quin Blanding, are outstanding. Their corners are good but not elite.

Because of that front seven, this Virginia defense is very good against the run (3.26 ypc), and the Virginia defense has consistently held opponents to less than their season averages across the board—even when getting blown out like last week against Georgia Tech.

That said, FSU is finally starting to hit its stride on the offensive side of the football, including in the running game. This will be an excellent opportunity to continue to step forward in that regard, as FSU will have to play well up front to have consistent success against Virginia.

I expect that to happen, with FSU averaging around 6.5 yards per play and scoring around 38 points in this one.

FSU Defense vs. UVA Offense

Florida State’s defense hasn’t been dominant this year, but Virginia’s offense has been average to awful. The one concern for Florida State is that Virginia is solid on the offensive line and has run the football well all season (over 4 ypc), which doesn’t bode well given FSU’s trouble on the defensive front.

But Virginia’s inability to throw the football down the field will allow Florida State to load up against the run more than they have all season. The loss of receiver Miles Gooch to a knee injury has further hamstrung Virginia’s ability to stretch the field, and quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns have been inconsistent all season, showing a propensity for turning the football over and not being able to throw the football down the field.

Virginia is a heavy screen team, so FSU’s front seven will have to be very disciplined to avoid giving up big plays in that department. As long as the Seminoles stay home when they recognize those screens, it should be a long day for the Cavaliers’ offense.

Thanks to Virginia’s lack of balance, I expect to see a more suffocating defensive performance in this one than we have seen from FSU so far this season. I expect the Cavs to have trouble moving the football all day, averaging less than 4.5 ypp before the fourth quarter.

Overall

Although Virginia is a better team than most realize, having taken UCLA the distance early in the season, I expect this to be a more comfortable win than FSU has had in awhile. I’ve got FSU getting the chance to rotate more bodies on a thin defensive front after getting an early lead. FSU wins 38-13.

Wayne’s Prediction

Florida State is getting healthy and that is a very bad sign for a reeling Virginia. The Noles will dominate this one from start to finish winning 42-10.

P.S. Dunn was in.


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