Florida State Football: 3 Keys to Victory Against Virginia
With an all-time record of 14-2 against the Virginia Cavaliers, it would be easy for Florida State to rest on their laurels today in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. But this isn't the Cavaliers team of years' past, as Virginia is 7-3 and in second place in the ACC Coastal.
With a win over the 'Noles this week and an upset of Virginia Tech in their regular season finale, the Hoos could sneak their way into the ACC title game in Charlotte in December. With a strong running game and plenty to play for, Virginia is no longer the comfortable win they've been in years past.
Here are three keys to victory for Florida State if they want to take home a win and the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy on Senior Day in Tallahassee.
1) Gap Discipline
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It's no secret that the strength of this Virginia team is their running game. The Cavs are averaging 187.6 yards per game on the ground this season. Junior Perry Jones is closing in on a thousand yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
To keep Jones and company in check, the Seminoles will have to stay disciplined in their gaps and stuff the run. Look for senior linebacker and the Seminoles' leading tackler Nigel Bradham to deal out plenty of punishment like he did last week against Miami.
If Bradham and the rest of that athletic linebacker corps can stuff the run and make the Cavaliers one-dimensional, it'll be a long night for Virginia.
2) Stay Multiple on Offense
The FSU offense has struggled this year when they've been pigeonholed into either just running the ball (as they've had to do when quarterback EJ Manuel struggles to get into a rhythm) or strictly throwing (like they had to do when Manuel was out and the running game was struggling).
Their most prolific offensive performances this season have come when they've mixed the run and the pass and thrown some zone reads in there for Manuel as well. With the triple threat of the option, freshman stud Devonta Freeman at running back and Manuel's ability to throw down field, the Seminoles could put a stout Virginia defense on their heels early.
3) Maintain Focus
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It seems like such a simple principle, but if we've learned anything from this college football season, it's that there's no such thing as an easy win (see Iowa State-OK State and Oklahoma-Texas Tech). Athletically, Florida State is the superior team, but the Cavs should not be slept on.
With the swirl of emotions from the Miami win last week, homecoming week this week, Senior Day and a date with hated in-state rival Florida next week, the 'Noles would do well to keep their heads on the task at hand.
If Florida State can play with both poise and passion, they should come out on top in this one.