What Notre Dame Fans Need to Know About Florida State

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On November 10, 2018, then #3 Notre Dame thrashed Florida State 42-13 on Senior Day. These were much simpler times, halcyon days if you will, especially when contrasted against the atmosphere surrounding the rematch on Saturday night.

Earlier that season, I covered a FSU game, their comfortable victory over Northern Illinois, with freelance sportswriter Danny Aller – the (quasi) elected “Twitter Mayor” of Tallahassee. It was a fun weekend with Danny, who is also the co-host of Saturday Morning Bottle Share craft beer radio show on ESPN Radio in Tallahassee.

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This week we reunite, albeit at a vast social distance, to preview the upcoming game. For the full FSU-ND Game Preview, by Sports Bank’s Nate Atkins, click here.

Danny, my man! How are you doing? Staying safe?

Apparently, ND has had some issues with outbreaks lately, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised if this game gets called off later in the week, but hey it’s on for now.


A: Doing well — all things considered in 2020 right now! And I don”t even want to hear the words “outbreak” or “positive tests” ever again after this year.

Has it really been 2 years since we took that Doak Campbell Stadium selfie before the kickoff of the FSU-NIU game? (see photo) Guess it has! Damn.

Well, good to hear from you and congrats on the new book! Or is it two new books?
I can’t keep up with you, PB.

Of course, still waiting on you to write that unauthorized biography of Jay Cutler – the “True Hollywoo…well, Chicago Underachiever Story.” We’ll always have our dislike for that massive waste of talent in common! Lol.

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And all he’s done since the quarantine and such is make himself even more unlikable, on many fronts.

Also, my first book, “No I Can’t Get You Free Tickets” was published in 2019, the next one, on the English Premier League taking root in America, is due out in mid 2021.

As a Florida State graduate what are your thoughts and feelings going to this rematch?

With the Seminoles 21 point underdogs, and an o/u of 52, the score projects to something around 37-15, your thoughts, as a non-partisan journalist on that?

A: This 2020 Florida State team, for 2 1/2 games this year, has STUNK. As in, unrecognizable, undisciplined, and totally un-Florida State.

Yes, since 2015 – two years removed from a national title and one year removed from a CFB semifinal playoff appearance, this program has been on a significant downside.

First, FSU lost its talented af head coach Jimbo Fisher, because the school wouldn’t give into his demands to level-up the program facilities.

This was needed in order to compete with the Clemsons, Alabamas and Notre Dames of college football, and after he left they made what appeared to be a good hire in Willie Taggart — and then grew inpatient with him incredibly fast, imo.

 

Then they brought in Memphis’ Mike Norvell, who hasn’t shown me much in 2 1/2 games (a 16-13 home loss to Georgia Tech – after leading 13-3 in the 3rd quarter – and a 52-10 embarrassment of a loss against Miami, which has more players and staff than actual fans).

So why do I keep saying “2 1/2” games?

Well, last week against Jacksonville State – a dadgum FCS program – they fell behind (AT HOME) 14-0 and 21-7, and I sent out a tweet in disbelief of how far this program has fallen off and gave my take as to what I saw unfolding in front of me.

And boy did it make some fans angry – while conversely, over 200 people agreed with me, including former FSU and NFL star Antonio Cromartie, who said this in response to my tweet:

But in the second half, they – meaning the coaches, particularly Norvell – finally woke up, made some adjustments and FSU outscored Jacksonville State 24-3 to comeback and win 41-24. Hell, speaking of spreads, they almost covered the 23.5 points they were favored by.

Anyway, I know that’s a bit of a rant and slightly off topic, but it’s relevant because – after two ugly, UGLY games to start the year where the team looked in worse shape than with Taggart last year – I finally saw signs of life.

And to give you a long answer to your short question, that is the ONLY reason FSU is 21-point underdogs in this game and not 30-point dogs.

Yes, I said 30.

Up until the second half last week, their offensive line had been terrible. The running and passing game has been almost non-existent. And their QB situation a hot mess. But with backup QB Jordan Travis leading the comeback last week, the job is firmly his – as it should’ve been all along.

The decision to start wildly struggling James Blackman in Games 1 & 2 over Travis is one of the reasons I am not sold on Norvell yet.

Travis, when given snaps here and there in the first two games, looked good and FSU moved the ball.

Then Norvell would inexplicably put Blackman in after Travis moved them 40 yards downfield and then Blackman would do Blackman things – throw a pick, or telegraph an easily defensed pass, or get sacked.

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So how this game goes Saturday relies solely on one thing:

Which FSU team shows up in South Bend – the “First-2 1/2-games FSU” or “second-half-vs-Jax-St. FSU.” If it’s the former, ND covers 21 points easy.

If it’s the latter, this will be a decent game – although the Irish will still win something like 24-17.

This will definitely not be like the 1991 Game of the Century, if we’re lucky, we could see a game maybe as entertaining as the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.

What do you think of the Mike Norvell era so far? How much does he have to clean up from the Willie Taggart era/how can long could this rebuild take?

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A: See above on some of that (and my tweet).

Overall, I’m not in the camp that Willie left this huge mess that Norvell has to clean up. Nor do I believe you can blame Norvell OR Taggart’s failings on Fisher leaving. This Florida F***ing State, man! There are athletes for days in that program – 4 and 5 stars all over the field.

Those guys were studs in high school; they ball in their sleep. The struggles from 2018 to now fall on poor coaching and even poorer game-planning and preparation. I wanted FSU to give Taggart TWO years and they gave him 1 1/2.

And with that being said, I want Norvell on the same clock – 2 years.

And if he’s about to lose games to Jacksonville State early on in Year 2 – and the problems aren’t fixed 1 1/2 years in – FSU needs to have the same kinda quick hook with Norvell.

It’s unlikely – given the coronavirus era and how much revenue the program has lost by only being able to fill their stadium to 25% capacity – that FSU will be as inpatient with Norvell though.

Eating another multi-million dollar buyout like that they did with Taggart isn’t really something, fiscally, the school can afford to do right now.

Brian Kelly said on Monday there could be as many as seven or eight draft picks on the Noles, he specifically mentioned Marvin Wilson, Gaynor, Kaindoh, Samuel, and “the safety who’s been out for a couple of weeks.”

Who are some of FSU’s top blue chip pro prospects, and what specifically, do they bring to the table?A: Outside of those guys you mentioned – all defense, btw – I don’t know what Kelly is talking about lol.

Yes, they have TERRIFIC athletes across the board on the team, but I don’t see anyone on offense who is NFL ready. And I’m betting Wilson – the Seminoles’ biggest star – wishes he had left last year.

He and Norvell didn’t exactly get off to the best start, and right now Wilson is staring down the barrel of a long season when he could’ve been making millions in the NFL, had he left early like most thought he would.

Kaindoh has been one of my favorite guys to watch since he set foot on campus – such a smart player – and Notre Dame would be smart not to throw at Samuel all day. That dude is a straight ball hawk.

There is a take going around that sports blogosphere, talk radio, social media that UCF could soon supplant FSU as the third major college football program in the state.

I would not be too happy about that actually happening. Your thoughts on the temperature of this take? Is it even as scorching hot as it sounds now?

A: UCF? Never heard of her … ;-)

LOL! Perfect! As Mayor of Tallahassee Twitter, with designs on running for Internet Mayor, whatever that means in reality, what is your campaign platform, this election season?

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A: I’ll bulletpoint them for you:

* A hot dog is not a sandwich, and I will make sure it becomes illegal to claim it is* Anyone caught using the archaic two spaces after a period in a sentence will be jailed, flogged and made to write #TeamOneSpace on a chalkboard 5,8000 times

* If elected, all crap beer drinkers (Bud Light, Miller, Coors, Busch, Natty Light and hard seltzers of any kind) will be GIVEN a free case of varying styles of craft beer so they can see what they are missing.

If they choose to continue drinking their fermented bath water after going through that case of fine, fresh, locally brewed craft beer, they will be asked to quarantine for 14 days – because they are clearly not feeling well.

* And lastly, brownies are the most overrated dessert in the world, and I will work hard to build a wall around the Duncan Hines, Nestle and Tollhouse industrial-complexes, but also begin an initiative called “Make Cobbler Great Again.”

Paid for by the Danny Aller for Mayor of Twitter Committee. Now let’s close with some Predictions for this game:

Danny Aller: I just hope we don’t see a repeat of the FSU-Miami game Saturday night, where the Seminoles were beaten in every aspect. I hope they show improvement and keep swinging until the end.

Paul M. Banks: 31-17, ND will jump on FSU early, and then take their foot off the gas pedal, hit the cruis control early in the 3rd quarter; Noles then window dress the final scoreline.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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