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Reader mailbag: Answering five pertinent questions with FSU

The Osceola staff answers five questions from subscribers who posted on the message board this weekend. Here are some responses and we also tackled a few on the Seminole Sidelines podcast.

We can only win one game on Saturday, what one of two things coaches should focus on this week to put us in a position to beat Louisville?

Pat Burnham: Defensively, I think FSU needs to focus on stopping the run against Louisville and playing with great eye discipline. You almost want to dare Louisville to try and beat you with the pass. Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham has completed 61 percent of his passes, can be inconsistent and has thrown 14 interceptions in his last 14 games including two in three games this season.

Louisville head Scott Satterfield’s entire offense is based off of the stretch zone. Even the Cardinals passing game revolves around that play. Having success on the ground will assist Louisville’s passing game. Put the pressure on Cunningham’s shoulder, literally. Secondly, stress staying focused on run and pass keys and having great eye discipline. Don’t get caught flat-footed with misdirection, motion and eye candy.

Offensively, I think they should start one QB and let him play the majority of the game to see if that might give the offense more much-needed consistency. However, I would imagine that we will see both quarterbacks, as we have throughout this season. If you are going to use two quarterbacks, fine tune the packages to take advantage of their complementary strengths.

Staff-wise, you have to get this team feeling good about itself and confident that it can win on Saturday. Keep it simple and narrow down the game plan on each side of the ball to what you know you can do well (plays on offense, calls/fronts/coverages on defense) and rep it over and over again so the players feel good about the ability to get it done on game day. It’s cliche, I know, but there is a lot of truth to it.

What is the thought in short-yardage, with one or two yards to-go and lining up in the shotgun formation? It feels like it automatically put us in a hole.

Pat Burnham: I would certainly like to see them go with Travis more if they are going to go out of the shotgun or Wildcat in these short-yardage situations. He is your most dynamic player running with the football. Travis gives you multiple options (run the ball himself, handoff or pass) and requires the defense to have to cover more of the field. Neither Milton nor Travis are guys you want to use under center to run the sneak — they are just not big enough. Jashaun Corbin can also run inside with some power concepts but I think lined up next to Travis in the backfield gives the defense more to think about.

Are players still buying in to Norvell?

Bob Ferrante: I was concerned with the hangover on the Tuesday practice going in to the Wake game, a morning where there wasn’t any real focus or energy by players. The effort was there on Saturday against Wake even if the scoreboard displayed a disparity. I think the game snowballed on the defense with two sudden-change scenarios in the first quarter and the Seminoles did not recover well. FSU has shown confidence is an issue and even more so early in games. The Seminoles need early positives in games and didn’t get it again as turnovers were a culprit. My concern long term is as losses pile up in September – do transfers and leaders still set a tone with the work ethic and set an example for the team or do they begin to back off the accelerator?

Are players quitting?

Bob Ferrante: Similar to the question above because you want to see effort regardless of the result. Coaches will see a lack of effort on film. If they feel good about another option in the position group they will make moves. Watching the game live on Saturday, it felt like the defensive intensity lapsed in the fourth quarter on some of Wake’s running plays. I wanted to see them show more toughness. When McKenzie Milton fumbled on the goal line and the fourth-and-2 wasn’t converted, two busted red-zone opportunities yielded no points. It stifles any optimism on the sideline as players try and try again to fight through the problems. This team isn’t built to come back from a big deficit, something that’s obvious to us on the outside. And I wonder if that impacts a player’s mindset late in a game as the turnovers, penalties and mental mistakes add up.

Do you give Chubba Purdy more opportunities in games?

Bob Ferrante: There’s dysfunction on offense that goes beyond who the quarterback is on a Saturday. Let’s ask this question: Would you rather have all the offensive linemen healthy, more consistent receiver play, one turnover or less, zero pre-snap penalties, or the choice of McKenzie Milton, Jordan Travis or Chubba Purdy?

You can only pick one.

I’d argue you want a healthy line given that there are not enough backup linemen who are dependable. (From there, you may pick a quarterback or want to minimize turnovers.) The answer at quarterback is not as easy as it seems given Milton’s and Travis’ injury history. Coaches have pushed Purdy hard in camp but he’s still in a developmental stage. My concern is putting Purdy behind a line that is not healthy and an offense that isn’t functioning. I do feel Purdy should get some drives on Saturdays this fall but would not feel comfortable starting him in week 4 against Louisville.

If you have a question for The Osceola staff, ask us on the message board