Louisville-FSU grades: Lamar Jackson unstoppable on the ground

The highest-graded players and top takeaways for Louisville’s 63-20 win over Florida State.

| 9 months ago
(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Louisville-FSU grades: Lamar Jackson unstoppable on the ground

Louisville Cardinals 63, Florida State Seminoles 20

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways for Louisville’s 63-20 win over Florida State:

Louisville Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Lamar Jackson, 73.0

Jackson unstoppable on the ground

Jackson’s running ability has been the story of the college football season through three weeks and it was on display again as he finished with a 91.8 rushing grade and gashed Florida State for 154 yards on 16 carries including 145 yards on 14 carries on designed runs. As a passer, Jackson missed a number of throws, including an 0-for-6 mark on passes thrown at least 20-plus yards in the air, but his ability to create on the ground trumped his bouts of inaccuracy.


Top offensive grades:

OT Lukayus McNeil, 79.5
WR James Quick, 75.5
RB Brandon Radcliff, 73.0
QB Lamar Jackson, 73.0
WR Jaylen Smith, 69.4

Jackson, run game steal the show

While Jackson set the tone on the ground, RB Brandon Radcliff was right there with 118 yards of his own on 14 carries, including 82 yards after contact and four missed tackles forced. WR James Quick caught all seven of his targets for 122 yards while OT Lukayus McNeil paced the offensive line with the top run and pass blocking grades. It was a strong all-around effort for Louisville including the work by the coaching staff as the run and pass game had open looks throughout the game.

Top defensive grades:

LB Stacy Thomas, 79.6
CB Zykiesis Cannon, 78.0
S Josh Harvey-Clemons, 77.1
ED Devonte Fields, 76.0
CB Jaire Alexander, 71.9

All-around effort confuses FSU offense 

It was a good all-around effort on the defensive side of the ball as well, as Louisville confused Florida State’s offense with their blitz schemes while playing sound run defense against Cook. LB Stacy Thomas made the most of his 10 blitzes with a QB hit, two hurries and a batted pass. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and edge rusher Devonte Fields tied for the team lead with four stops including a sack apiece. On the back end, while CB Jaire Alexander surrendered the touchdown to Tate, he also deflected another pass and he had the back-breaking punt return for a touchdown to go up 42-10 early in the third quarter.

Florida State Seminoles

Quarterback grade: Deondre Francois, 50.8

Inaccuracy and slow decision-making hurt Francois’ first road start

Francois looked a step slow in the pocket, taking five sacks on his 11 pressured dropbacks – all five sacks came on blitzes – and being a tick late to feel a number of pressures. As a passer, he missed a few throws in the short range, finishing only 4-for-11 for 48 yards and an interception on passes thrown up to 10 yards in the air.


Top offensive grades

RT Rick Leonard, 75.0
LT Roderick Johnson, 73.3
WR Auden Tate, 71.9
RB Jacques Patrick, 71.3
WR Travis Rudolph, 69.3

Offense can’t handle the blitz, establish run

There wasn’t much to get excited about offensively, though WR Auden Tate caught two touchdowns including an impressive contested catch in the end zone during garbage time. Francois was pressured on 39 percent of his dropbacks, compared to 32 percent coming into the game, and many of the pressures came with free rushers. Heisman candidate RB Dalvin Cook was held in check to the tune of 54 yards on 16 carries (3.1 yards per carry) and the running game didn’t get going until the game was out of hand.

Top defensive grades:

DI DeMarcus Walker, 78.2
CB Tarvarus McFadden, 74.6
CB Marquez White, 73.8
DI Derrick Nnadi, 72.6
DI Walvenski Aime, 70.2

Defense kept off balance all afternoon

Louisville’s offense had Florida State running in circles, easily getting to the edge in the running game and creating wide open passing lanes. Florida State combined to miss 13 tackles, the most they’ve missed as a team since Week 8 in 2014 against Notre Dame. Five Seminoles missed multiple tackles and there wasn’t a linebacker or safety with an above-average grade on the day. DE/DT DeMarcus Walker was one of the lone bright spots, though he had issues of his own at times in the run game. He finished with two QB hits, a hurry, and a batted pass on his 24 rushes.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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