Tallahassee, FL – For the first time since 2011, Florida State (0-2,0-1) finds itself outside of the top-25. In a season filled with high expectations, the ‘Noles have stumbled along the way. After losing their starting quarterback Deondre Francois and the game against Alabama, the Seminoles, after 21 days of no game activity, came out flat against N.C. State. Trying to reignite the spark that preceded the season, Florida State sets its sights on the undefeated Demon Deacons of Wake Forest(4-0,1-0).
FSU quarterback James Blackman held his own in his first start. The freshman threw for 278 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Wolfpack. He’ll be without leading receiver Auden Tate, who went down with a shoulder injury against N.C. State last week.
Missed opportunities have cost FSU early on. After making 6 trips to the red zone, the ‘Noles managed only one touchdown against N.C. State. The red zone will not be any easier to get into this weekend as Wake Forest boasts one of the best red zone defenses in the country. The Demon Deacons have allowed only three touchdowns in eight attempts for opponents.
The Seminole offensive line has its hands full once again facing an experienced defensive front for Wake Forest. In the middle, defensive linemen Zeek Rodney(12 tackles five tackles-for-loss, one sack) and Willie Yarbary(11 tackles three tackles-for-loss) lead a unit ranked 12th in the nation in tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Jaboree Williams(19 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and one sacks) roams the middle and will be a key figure in stopping running back Cam Akers and this Seminole rushing attack.
Defensive end Josh Sweat(10 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and one sack) and safety Derwin James(14 tackles) lead the 29th ranked Florida State defense against Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford and a group of talented young Wake Forest playmakers. A dual threat player himself, Wolford(676 passing yards, eight touchdowns and 269 rushing yards three touchdowns on the ground) and Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch(20 receptions for 242 yards and five touchdowns) and running back Arkeem Byrd(233 rushing yards and one touchdown)to rip off huge plays for the Demon Deacons.
The ‘Noles have yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. Both running backs in Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers must help out their quarterback with a steady run game. Rodney and Yarbary both get pressure up the middle. Rodney is your space eater and does much of his damage from the zero to one technique. While Yarbary is a tad bit faster, Wake Forest defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel will move him along the line. We’ve often heard games are won in the trenches and this bout will be no different. The interior offensive line of Florida State must play a solid game opening running lanes and keep Wake’s defense from getting to Blackman.
Florida State travels to Winston-Salem looking for its first win of the year with a scheduled kickoff at 3:30pm EST on ABC.