Not only did Derwin James have to watch Florida State’s matchup with Louisville last season from Tallahassee due to a knee injury, he had to watch Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson torch a Seminoles defense that he knew he could help.
James, the Seminoles’ star safety, had torn his meniscus the week prior. The Cardinals beat the Seminoles 63-20 and Jackson scored 5 total touchdowns, 4 rushing.
James hasn’t forgotten the feeling of watching Jackson run wild against his team. This year, he’s excited to have a say in the matter.
“I’m really excited going into this game,” James told Safid Deen of the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday. “It was the first week I had to miss off my injury last year. I’m just ready to play this game the most.”
James’ presence will almost certainly help the Seminoles corral Jackson, who is averaging over 430 yards of total offense per game this season. In 2015, when Jackson and James were both starting as freshmen, Jackson was limited to just 32 yards rushing against Florida State.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said James will be useful in stopping Louisville’s offense because he is so versatile defensively. He may even be used to shadow Jackson for part of the game.
“Whether he takes something away and lets somebody else do something or allows him himself to do something … you’ve got to account for him,” Fisher told Deen.
One of James’ teammates, cornerback Levonta Taylor, also believes having James on the field will make a difference in stopping Jackson — not just schematically but also psychologically.
“He’s one of the best safeties in the country,” Taylor said of James. “He might put a little bit of fear in Lamar Jackson’s heart just seeing him back there.”