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ACC championship: 4 final thoughts on FSU football vs. Louisville

Why Seminoles coach Mike Norvell isn’t publicly lobbying for a playoff bid.
 
Florida State football coach Mike Norvell addressed reporters Friday during a news conference before the ACC championship.
Florida State football coach Mike Norvell addressed reporters Friday during a news conference before the ACC championship. [ ANDREW HANCOCK | Courtesy of ACC ]
Published Dec. 2, 2023

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A few final thoughts before No. 4 Florida State faces No. 15 Louisville in tonight’s ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium:

Mike Norvell wants his team’s performance to do the talking

FSU football coach Mike Norvell hasn't publicly lobbied for his Seminoles to earn a playoff spot.
FSU football coach Mike Norvell hasn't publicly lobbied for his Seminoles to earn a playoff spot. [ CHRIS HAYS | Orlando Sentinel ]

Aside from the Seminoles’ unsettled quarterback situation with Tate Rodemaker (and, by extension, backup Brock Glenn), the most interesting thing that came out of Friday’s news conference was FSU coach Mike Norvell talking about the playoff.

The context: Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked about the SEC’s spot in the final four Thursday. He said Georgia’s one of the four best teams in the country, and if his Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs, Alabama is one of the four best teams. It’s a fine argument.

It’s also different than the tactic Norvell has taken. He (intentionally) isn’t pounding the table for FSU to land a semifinal appearance with a win. Why not?

“Because I believe in our team…” Norvell said. “If it gets to a point where I need to make a statement verbally about my belief in this team, I believe we’ll settle that (Saturday) night, and that statement will be louder than any words I can say today, and that’s what we’re aspiring to be and aspiring to do.

“A lot of people love to talk, and I want to see a team that acts. We take care of our business, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in where that’ll lead us.”

Keep watching the forecast

The weather has been dreary in Charlotte, N.C. leading up to the ACC championship game between Florida State and Louisville.
The weather has been dreary in Charlotte, N.C. leading up to the ACC championship game between Florida State and Louisville. [ MATT BAKER | Tampa Bay Times ]

The weather since I arrived late Friday morning has been, to use the technical term, yucky. A little chilly with some mist and light rain Friday. No moisture yet Saturday, but it’s still gloomy with a 70% chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

If the field or conditions are sloppy, I think that favors Louisville. The Cardinals’ run game is excellent and explosive, so I could see FSU having trouble tackling their backs. It’s also easier to envision FSU’s greener quarterback (whichever one it is) making a mistake that six-year veteran Jack Plummer won’t make.

Special teams will be pivotal

Alex Mastromanno has been one of the nation's top punters for Florida State.
Alex Mastromanno has been one of the nation's top punters for Florida State. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]

Norvell emphasizes special teams more than most coaches, and that’s reflected in advanced metrics. FSU’s unit is sixth in SP+ efficiency. Louisville is 72nd. I think this will be a tight game, so the unsung things can make a big difference. Maybe that’s a muffed punt or kickoff if it’s slippery. Maybe it’s a long field goal or field-flipping punt. This game (like most) will be decided by a handful of plays. My hunch is that one of them comes on special teams.

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ACC events here are fun

A few ACC mascots hang around the lobby of the Charlotte Mariott City Center the dya before the Florida State-Louisville title game.
A few ACC mascots hang around the lobby of the Charlotte Mariott City Center the dya before the Florida State-Louisville title game. [ MATT BAKER | Tampa Bay Times ]

On my way to the hotel, my ride was behind two pedicab bicycle taxis. Both were carrying ACC mascots. Otto the Orange (Syracuse) and Rameses (North Carolina) were waving to pedestrians like the celebrities they are. I was in the lobby later and saw people carrying giant mannequins clothed in ACC teams’ jerseys to some function. It’s a different, looser vibe than the SEC title game in Atlanta.

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