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Playing Nice: Tomahawk Nation

Talkin’ Bout the Noles

They say the best things in life are worth waiting for and that’s especially true of those 12 beautiful Saturdays in Baton Rouge called “football season.” This year it’s doubly true because while week 0 tantalized and damn near the rest of major college football gets going on Saturday, LSU will have to wait an extra 24 hours before kicking off its season.

But the reward ought to be worth the wait: having quite literally the entire college football universe tuned into a new era of LSU football beginning under the lights of the Louisiana Mercedes Benz Caesars Superdome.

Just the thought of “LSU versus Florida State” kicks ass...that is if you ignore both programs being in a rut the past few seasons. But hey let’s ignore trivial things like “recent history” and instead focus on the sweetest words in. the English language: football is back.

To help preview the Seminoles is our friend Perry Kostidakis from our Florida State sister site Tomahawk Nation. Perry also wanted to say “let’s go 2-0 on UF this year.” Indeed!

1. I think the first thing I’d like to know is, big picture wise, how did Florida State end up in this recent rut they’re in? The Seminoles went 14-0 in 2013, made the inaugural CFP as the 1-seed in 2014 and had back-to-back 10-win seasons in ‘15 and ‘16, but since then FSU’s 27-33. LSU’s had a rough go of things too since they won their most recent title, so do you see any parallels between the two programs?

Here’s the short and sweet of it — Jimbo Fisher was not happy that his financial requests were being neglected/not adequately met at the same time he was stubbornly building a faulty, outdated, and unstable infrastructure at the program. Dalvin Cook hid all of that, and then 2017 (the year Jimbo left before the season concluded) was chalked up as a fluke year, and so Willie Taggart was hired to reboot, not rebuild the program. And uh, that did not go well, and now Mike Norvell is trying to claw the program out of that hole while also trying to rebuild the actual moving parts of Florida State football.

The main parallel I see is just hilariously questionable administrative work on the universities end — I mean this in as nice a way as possible, you could hire an actual rock at LSU and they’d probably at least finish in the top 10 once, just because the structure around the athletics program and constant available talent pool is that much better. Until you see a wide receiver line up backwards, you’re good.

2. Now let’s get to the here and now. Florida State played a Week 0 game and did what they were supposed to do against Duquesne. Now normally I would be dismissive of a team having already played a game, but LSU was in this same spot last year and UCLA whipped the Tigers pretty good. Do you see Florida State having the week 0 game under their belts as an advantage?

Yes, because it’s a classic case of confidence building. This is a team that only twice under Novell has gotten a true blowout against an opponent (vs. Duke in 2020, UMass in 2021) — when FSU played Jacksonville State in 2020 they ended up winning pretty handily but that was only after Jordan Travis came off the bench to spark some energy and it’s almost bullying to make me point out what happened last season vs. JSU. FSU handled Duquesne exactly how a Power Five program should handle an FCS program, which is a low standard to meet but one that clearly has been evasive over the last few seasons. FSU hasn’t won a season opener since 2016, which has played a major part in slow starts over the last few years. When you start off the year on the wrong foot after being told you were working all summer for something, it makes things really frustrating, so to come off a school record-setting win helps build that base a little more.

3. It seems like Florida State and LSU are mirror images of one another, particularly along the line of scrimmage: strong d-lines, iffy o-lines. Do you feel confident in the FSU defensive line being able to generate havoc at the line and are you equally worried about LSU’s d-line doing the same?

I feel confident in them holding their own, but I don’t have it in them causing the same level of chaos as LSU potentially will against the Seminoles’ line. FSU has one of the better units in the ACC, and likely the country, but it lost a huge piece in defensive end Jermaine Johnson, who was the New York Jets’ first-round draft pick after putting up 12 sacks last season. The key will be transfer defense end Jared Verse, who is still acclimating to the FBS level but has a ridiculous amount of raw talent and potential.

4. Tell me about Jordan Travis and the weapons out wide he has to work with. Can they win their one-on-one matchups against what’s basically a brand new LSU secondary?

Well, it depends on if Arizona State transfer (yes FSU has one of those too) wide receiver Johnny Wilson will be good to go. Wilson is a big-bodied, and somewhat a bit of a boom-or-bust player that can reel off a huge plays downfield or over somebody’s head (if he manages to keep his hands on the ball.) FSU hit the portal for receivers hard over the offseason, with Oregon transfer receiver Mycah Pittman being a name that is likely to be called a bunch on Sunday. The revamp was heavily needed, with the group being in contention for the weakest on the team in 2021. The Seminoles have weapons — but those weapons have to execute.

Travis, at his best, is one of the most electrifying players in the country. His ability to keep plays alive and spark explosive production has pretty much been the sole reason for FSU’s wins in the Norvell era. Through the air, he’s not going to kill you to the tune of a 400-yard game (there’s a chance he honestly doesn’t throw a single touchdown and FSU still wins), but he’s meticulous and relatively risk-averse

5. Give me a score prediction and potential overreactions we’ll see on FSU Twitter for a win and a loss.

27-24, LSU, but I do not have faith in a pick either way in this game. If FSU was fully healthy at the center position I would maybe feel a bit more confident in the Seminoles snagging a win, but I really think the defensive line for the Tigers is going to make the difference as the game goes on. FSU can hang on defense, but offense is going to have to win this one.

Overreactions with a win: This is what it’s going to be like every week when FSU joins the SEC.

Overreactions with a loss: Time to hire Deion.

6. Seriously, why are these games being played in New Orleans and Orlando instead of on campus?

Because why deprive these fanbases out of chances to visit such culturally rich, important epicenters of humanity like the Krystals on Bourbon Street and the world’s largest McDonalds in Orlando?