The Florida State Seminoles will visit Winston-Salem (perhaps amidst a hurricane) to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 3:30 at BB&T Field. The game will be shown nationally (yay?!?) on ESPN, so if you can't make it to the game, or simply don't want to grab two of every animal before you go tailgate, you can watch from the friendly confines of your home instead of Groves Stadium.
The Noles come into the game with a 3-0 record and a No. 9 national ranking. Their wins came over Texas State, USF, and most recently, a 14-0 shutout at Boston College. Fortunately for Coach Fisher and the Seminoles, they had a bye week to prepare for the mighty Demon Deacons, who have three ACC games against opponents coming off of bye weeks. What are the strengths of Florida State's team?
This year's Florida State team features an exceptional defense. They are allowing just 10 points per game, and have the 3rd best Defensive S&P+ rating in the country. This dynamite defense is excellent against both the pass and the run. They are ranked 8th in Rushing S&P+ defense, while they are ranked 4th in Passing S&P+ defense.
Linebackers Ro'Derrick Hoskins and Terrance Smith already have 3.5 tackles for loss each. If FSU chooses to send pressure, then expect them to rack up a number of sacks. At the very least, both will be very formidable stopping the run. The defensive tackle due of Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Nnadi is downright intimidating. Both are 6'1", 300 pounds. It's difficult to imagine Wake Forest's offensive line gaining any push against these two.
In the secondary, Jalen Ramsey already has 5 pass break ups on the year. He's one of the best cornerbacks in the country, and will make Wake Forest pay if his area is targeted too often. A heavy pass rush followed by an inexperienced passer, could lead to a few interceptions for the Noles.
Florida State's offense is led by sophomore running back, Dalvin Cook. Cook is one of the most explosive backs in the country, as he is averaging 7.44 yards per carry (on 64 attempts) and already has 5 touchdowns on the season. FSU's offensive line is not as good as it has been in recent years. They lost more than 200 career starts from last year's offensive line, and as a result, the line currently has one of the 30 worst "stuff rates" in the country. 23% of carries result in the running back being tackled either at or behind the line of scrimmage. For some perspective, Wake Forest is currently 112th in stuff rate, with a rate of 24.8%.
Everett Golson is the team's starting quarterback, but Tomahawk Nation reports that Sean Maguire has seen his 1st team reps increase in practice. Maguire is probably a better pure passer than Golson. While Golson has thrown 6 touchdowns to 0 interceptions, he is averaging just 6.4 yards/attempt. With skill position players like Travis Rudolph, Jesus Wilson, and Kermit Whitfield, that shouldn't happen.
This is quite possibly the most difficult opponent that Wake Forest will play this season. How will this team respond to last week's difficult loss to Indiana? The critical things to watch in this game will be how well the young Wake Forest offensive line picks up pressure, and how well Wake's skill position players perform.
What are you all hoping to see?