Written By: Jake Hood
“I promise you, you’re going to see a different team.”
Those were the words defensive leader DeMarcus Walker left fans with after their loss to Louisville in week three.
4 weeks later Nole Nation is seeing a different team indeed.
After a hard-hitting game in Miami last week and a heroic field goal block to end the game, FSU’s defense looked dominant again this week against Wake Forest.
Questions surrounding the teams defense had loomed for weeks after being routed by Louisville and again after their loss to North Carolina. Devastating injuries to players like Derwin James and Josh Sweat only pitted the defense into an even greater struggle.
But it seems that now they may have found their footing. The Noles were able to sack Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford five times, matching a season-high. They were also able to come away with three takeaways in Saturday’s game. The defense gave up only 252 yards of offense to Wake Forest, the fewest amount of yards they have given up all season. The six points the defense gave up the entire game was the least they have given up all season, including against Charleston Southern.
More crucial than the numbers however were several of the key stops by the Seminoles defense, including after a fumble by Deondre Francois that gave the Demon Deacons the ball inside the redzone. The Noles defense was able to completely stop the offense, resulting in a negative two-yard drive and a missed field goal.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher had nothing but positive things to say about the defense, and praised their ability to pressure the quarterback.
Now the Noles look forward to a bye week, where they can hope to get healthy and prepare for their matchup against Clemson and one of the best offenses in the ACC.
Derwin James is also set to return to the field after tearing his meniscus in week two. James’ is considered one of the top defensive backs in the country, and his return will be a huge asset to the Noles who will no doubt need his help against Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers.
The FSU offense played well also, Dalvin Cook rushed for 123 yards, despite missing a drive after getting rattled on a play early in the game. The Noles had an effective attack through the air as well. Francois threw for 319 yards and a touchdown, and had some big connections with wide receiver Travis Rudolph.
Rudolph had a spectacular day with 13 catches and 238 yards receiving. Jimbo Fisher had nothing but praise for the junior wide receiver, “13 [catches], that’s great. I said he’s been playing good football. I mean, he really has. Good to get him back.”
But even though certain players had great games, at times the Noles offensive attack seemed to stall, and the offensive line allowed Francois to be sacked three times throughout the game. “Offensively, we got yards, we didn’t finish drives.” Coach Fisher stated, “We’ve got to do a better job. Too much pressure on Deondre up front.”
The Noles will look to clean up certain aspects of their game, and they will have time to do so in their bye week before facing Clemson, who is ranked number three in the nation.