Florida State heads into their third game of the 2017 season and look to get their first victory of the season. The Seminoles lost last week to NC State in their home opener of the season and has produced a strange feeling amongst Seminole fans. The Seminoles are 0-2 and are unranked for the first time since 2011. The Seminoles badly need a win to have hopes of a solid season. They will now have to travel to Winston-Salem, NC to battle it out with the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.
The Deacons are currently 4-0 and are 1-0 in ACC play, having beaten Boston College 3 weeks ago in Massachusetts. The Deacons are led by head coach Dave Clawson, who is currently 0-3 against Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles, after becoming head coach in 2014. Clawson’s quarterback is local product John Wolford, who graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 2014 and has been the starting quarterback for the Demon Deacons since then. The Deacons have played well, as evidenced by their 4-0 record but haven’t played a difficult schedule. They have played Appalachian State, Utah State, Presbyterian, and mentioned earlier, Boston College. Not a difficult schedule, but the Demon Deacons did what they were supposed to do and that was to win.
The Seminoles should be focused on this game as they have a chip on their shoulder after losing the first two games, and are desperate to win a game. The Seminoles cannot look forward to their rivalry game next weekend against Miami, or it will cost them.
Let’s take a look at three storylines to watch in this one:
1. Get the running game going:
The Seminoles, through the first two games, have only managed 144 yards rushing. Of those 144, 104 came against NC State last weekend. The team needs to establish a running game early to take pressure of freshman quarterback James Blackman, who will be making his first career collegiate road start this Saturday. If the Seminoles can get running backs Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick going Saturday, then it could bode really well for the Seminoles on offense. Establishing a run game early can tire out the Demon Deacon defense, then that allows for play action passes to open up, giving Blackman a chance to throw to his tight ends and receivers. Look for the tight ends to get involved, if Auden Tate, Blackman’s number one target last week, can’t play.
2. Look out for read option plays by Wolford
On the other side of the ball, the Seminoles defense needs to be aware of Wolford’s read-pass option (RPO). This term will be mentioned a lot during the game, as this is one of Wolford’s strengths dating back to his high school days. Wolford has done really well in terms of showing the defense that he is handing the ball off to his running back on an option play, but at the very last second, he pulls it out, and throws it to an open receiver. This is something that the defense will have to watch out for. The RPO’s do allow for big plays downfield for Wolford and the Demon Deacon offense. If the Seminoles can stay on their assignments and not get sucked into the playfakes done by Wolford, then they can beat this Demon Deacon squad. The defense has to stay on their man and trust the other guys on the defense to do their job.
3. How will FSU play when their backs are against the wall?
As mentioned earlier, FSU is 0-2. In fact, this is the first time since 1989 the Seminoles started off 0-2. That year, they then rattled off 10 straight wins and finished 10-2. In order for that to happen again, the Seminoles have to win Saturday. Some fans are having doubts about head coach Jimbo Fisher and whether he should still be coach of this team. The Seminoles have 9 games left and need to win 6 to become bowl-eligible. This is a must win situation for Jimbo Fisher and the team. If they lose this game, they fall to 0-3, and the season will look like it will be a disaster.
The Seminoles are a more talented team than Wake Forest, and have to play like it. The running backs will have to get more involved and will have to control this game for the Seminoles. The Seminoles will need to play its best game of the year right now just to get some positive vibes to its players, and give them hope for the future after suffering two losses this early in the season. Expect it to be a slow start for the Seminoles, but the talent of the team will overcome the Demon Deacons.
Florida State 24, Wake Forest 14