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Seminoles vs Cardinals ACC Championship Preview

We've reached the conference championships and the ACC has a solid matchup with the fourth-ranked undefeated Seminoles clashing with the 15th-ranked Louisville Cardinals. While this is not the match-up most expected, it is set to be an exciting one. How will Tate Rodemaker look in his second start for the Seminoles after taking over the offense? How will Louisville rebound after losing to Kentucky to end the season? Let's take a look at some areas that could factor in the outcome.

Quarterback - Tate Rodemaker vs Jack Plummer. For the Cardinals, Plummer is a 6'5" pro-style quarterback who has a good arm, while he can make the deep throws, his strength this season has been the shorter throws and letting his playmakers make things happen. He is a pocket passer who doesn't get rattled easily. He's on pace for his best year in his five-year career (first season with Louisville). For the Seminoles, Rodemaker is a 6'4" pro-style quarterback similar to Plummer. Rodemaker is more mobile than Plummer although they both prefer throwing first. While he's had limited work this season before the final two weeks of the season, he filled in for Travis last season and completed 58 percent of his throws over seven games. Advantage - Toss-up. Despite limited work this season, I like the potential with Rodemaker. I like what I've seen with Plummer and his experience does count. They are both playing in arguably their biggest game, it will be interesting to see how both react.

Wide Receivers - Keon Coleman vs Jamari Thrash. Jamari Thrash has been the primary playmaker for the Cardinals' offense this season. Currently fifth in the ACC in receiving yards with 801 yards. The transfer from Georgia State has done a good job following up on his 1122-yard season in 2022 for the Georgia State Panthers. He's a physical receiver who can shake off defenders to maximize yards, 386 of his 801 yards are after-contact. He uses his speed well to stretch the field and shows good use of hands and body control to make catches in and out of traffic. For the Seminoles, the aerial attack was led by Keon Coleman. The Michigan State transfer has made a habit of making acrobatic catches look routine. Similar to Thrash, Coleman has followed up his career year in 2022 with a career-high in touchdown receptions. He's also shown his versatility and worked well as a returner. Coleman has provided both Travis and Rodemaker with a big target who can routinely win contested throws and who can stretch the field with his speed, four of his touchdowns have come 20 or more yards downfield. Advantage - Seminoles. Keon Coleman is a dynamic game-changer for the Seminoles offense. He also has a better cast around him to keep the Cardinals' defense honest in their coverage.

Running Backs - Jawhar Jordan vs Trey Benson. The running game is going to be a must-watch. For the Cardinals, Jordan has been on a tear this season as the primary back. He's already set new career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns and has been more of a factor in the passing game than in previous seasons. He's shown his speed (4.50e) gaining separation from defenders. He's shown good instincts to run between the tackles or run to the outside for the yardage needed. Benson has been dynamic for the Seminoles. He's shown the ability to take over games showcasing his speed to break away from defenders as well as run between the tackles. He's also been a vital receiver out of the backfield. Advantage - Toss-up. Jordan and Benson are two of the top backs in the country and have been vital to their team's respective success.

Defense - Jared Verse vs Ashton Gillotte. Two monsters for opposing offenses are set to go during this game. Both have tormented opposing quarterbacks and offenses all season long. For the Cardinals, Gillotte has lived in opposing backfields generating 58 pressures on the season and leading the team with nine sacks. Gillotte has a quick first step and uses his high motor and agility to beat blockers in various ways. He uses his hands well to shed blocks and make tackles. He is having the best season of his career with high marks in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks. With Verse, the Seminoles have an edge that has tormented opposing offenses throughout his career and lived up to the hype after transferring from Albany to the FCS. He shows a quickness off the line that few can match and plays with violent hands to shed initial blockers and make tackles. Advantage - Seminoles. Verse is just too good of a player to keep in check for 60 minutes. He also leads the Seminoles with eight sacks on the year to go along with 49 pressure. Verse shows a good athletic ability in being able to drop into coverage as needed.

Intangibles - Coaching Mike Norvell vs Jeff Brohm. Both coaches should be in consideration for Coach of the Year honors as both have done a remarkable job rebuilding and creating a great culture for their teams. In Louisville, Brohm returned to coach at his alma mater and gone 10-2 (to this point) in his first season. He has improved the offense, going from 27 - 33 points per game while keeping the defense performing at a great level (19 points per game allowed to 20). Meanwhile, the Seminoles have found their coach in Mike Norvell. Norvell has had a bigger rebuild on his hands since coming from Memphis. His teams have improved year over year and this year has been his best. The Seminoles have improved scoring and on the defensive side of the ball with the offense scoring 38.8 points per game (up from 36 a year ago). Defensively they have gone from 20.6 points allowed to 16.8. Advantage - Seminoles. While both coaches have done commendable jobs with their teams, the difference that makes Norvell stand out is his ability to adjust on the fly to opponents.

Prediction - Seminoles vs Cardinals, with an FSU win and moving to 13-0 on the season. Throughout the year this team has found numerous ways to win. In one of their toughest matchups, they pull away from Louisville and win by 10.


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