The week before rivalry week has become known as ‘cupcake week’ across the college world football due to the high amount of FBS, especially SEC teams, playing against FCS schools (it just means more, right?). This year, Florida State is copying their southern brethren by scheduling FCS school Delaware State.
For Seminole fans thinking “Oh, the Blue Hens? That’s where Joe Flacco played, this could be interesting”, they’re wrong. They would be thinking of Delaware, a program that claims six national championships along with 16 conference titles and is generally regarded as a perennial power in the FCS.
Much like when differentiating the Garnet and Gold between those crocodiles in Gainesville, the ‘State’ part of the name makes all the difference.
A little more on Delaware State
Delaware State isn’t generally one of the worst programs in the FCS, but this season they’re one of the lowest rated schools in the Championship Subdivision. The school is an HBCU, and normally play other historically black colleges like Grambling and Florida A&M in the MEAC.
The Hornets experienced a string of five conference championships from 1985-1991, with their most recent coming in 2007, which was also their first season being selected to join the FCS playoffs. This season, Delaware State comes into Saturday’s game 2-8, with wins over South Carolina State and Morgan State, who combined have a record of 3-14. Their only game against an FBS opponent this season resulted in a 0-79 drumming at the hands of Missouri.
Safe to say, Florida State fans, for the first time this season, don’t have much to worry about on Saturday *knocks on wood*. Don’t be mistaken, the Delaware State team is talented, and they do feature some good athletes. But compared to Florida State, well, there isn’t a lot keeping Jimbo Fisher up at night. Here are three things to watch.
How Many Running Backs Will Play?
Once this game gets out of reach, which should happen early on, the backups will start rolling in for the ‘Noles. As bad as FSU fans want to see Cam Akers reach 1,000 yards on the season, no one wants to see the true freshman get hurt it what will most likely be a blowout. Besides, he’ll go for over 200 against the awful UF rushing defense anyways.
Jacques Patrick will probably not be due for a lot of carries, coming off a knee injury. So will Florida State try to get Ryan Green and Amir Rasul a lot of carries? Rasul has impressed in limited flashes this season, and the speedy sophomore seems ready to carry more of the workload in the backfield.
Green is a fifth-year senior who has been hampered by injuries throughout his career but expect him to get some carries on Senior Day. He’s run for 119 yards in three healthy seasons, and if he’s given enough carries, Green could equal that total against Delaware State. Also, expect fullback Jonathan Vickers to share part of the workload.
Depth on Defense
Next season, the defense will not be as talented, that is certain. Seniors like Derrick Nnadi, Matthew Thomas, Jacob Pugh and Ro’Derrick Hoskins will be gone, while guys like Tarvarus McFadden, Derwin James, Josh Sweat and Demarcus Christmas will also most likely be declaring for the draft. That means there will be a lot of holes on next year’s defense that will need to be filled by future stars. Those guys will be on full display Saturday.
On the defensive line, heralded recruit Marvin Jones, who famously committed partly for the Seminole Dining’s famous ‘honey fried chicken’, has impressed in limited action on the line in his true freshman season, as had defensive end Josh Kaindoh. Both players should get a lot of playing time Saturday, as should reserves Walenski Aime, Jalen Wilkerson, and Fred Jones, who have all seen limited snaps this season.
The linebackers will need to replace three graduating seniors after this season, but the depth is seen this season is promising. Sophomore Dontavious Jackson has played well in limited snaps, as has sophomore Emmett Rice, who recorded a key interception against Duke earlier this season. Adonis Thomas is another player who has seen limited snaps this season but recorded five tackles against Duke when he got a lot of playing time, so expect him to play most of the game after the seniors depart.
Finally, the secondary might be the most exciting group. Tarvarus McFadden is almost assuredly going to the NFL, as is Derwin James, while Trey Marshall and Nate Andrews will be graduating. This leaves the door open for a lot of starting spots, and guys who have shown glimpses this season will see a lot of playing time on Saturday.
Sophomores Cyrus Fagan, Levonta Taylor, and Stanford Samuels have all gotten a lot of playing time throughout the year but should play most of the game against Delaware State. Freshman Hasmah Nasirilldeen has been very impressive at safety this season, and will also get ample playing time.
Against Delaware State, fans should expect to see what will end up being a preview of next season for the defense.
The Quarterback Play
The QB position will be one of the biggest question marks over the offseason. But for now, James Blackman is still the starting QB and is coming off an iffy performance against Clemson last week. Getting in rhythm this week will be important for the next few games, and don’t be surprised to see Jimbo take some deep shots early to help Blackman’s confidence. Also look for junior JJ Constentino to take his first snaps since the NC State game of the season, which he hopefully won’t throw an interception during.