The Wake Forest Demon Deacons host the #11 Florida State Seminoles on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Seminoles are currently an 18-point favorite, which indicates that they would be expected to win approximately 95% of the times these two teams played in Winston-Salem. Which positional matchups will be the ones that determine the outcome of this game?
Florida State Defensive Line vs. Wake Forest Offensive Line
This one probably goes without saying, but Florida State's defensive line has the chance to destroy Wake Forest's offensive gameplan. Thus far, the offensive line has allowed Wake Forest quarterbacks to be sacked a total of 15 times during four games. Two of those games were against Elon and Army. The line features redshirt freshmen at both tackle positions, while our current center is not at his natural position. Because of this, they are 111th in adjusted sack rate. Want to make matters worse? Insert Florida State's defensive line. The Noles already have 21 tackles for loss in just three games.
This is just terrifying. This defensive line could keep Wake Forest quarterback off-balance all game. If Wake Forest's line cannot protect the quarterback, then there will have to be an adjustment in terms of screen passes and slant routes. 3rd and long situations could be devastating for Wake's offense.
Wake Forest Secondary vs. Florida State Receivers
Wake Forest's defense has no interceptions on the year, while Florida State's quarterbacks have yet to throw an interception on the year. Classic nothing has to give game. But playing in the secondary is about far more than just interceptions. It's primarily about coverage ability. Florida State's receivers have less than stellar numbers on the season, but they have the potential to make explosive plays at any point in a game. Florida State is currently only 125th nationally in IsoPPP (an explosiveness metric), but their athletes are so exceptional, that corners have to be ready. Travis Rudolph was a blue chip recruit, and has the potential to make some deep plays. Wake Forest has to hope that Brad Watson and Devin Gaulden can stay with Rudolph. Unfortunately, Wake's Passing Defense IsoPPP is 112th. Bend but not break can only take a defense but so far. If the Noles' skill position players have an opportunity, they are capable of really making a defense pay.
Wake Forest's Passing vs. Florida State Secondary
Whoever is the Wake Forest quarterback on Saturday is going to consistently feel a pass rush, due to the aforementioned offensive line issues. In addition to that significant issue, Florida State also has a very good secondary. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is one of the best corners in the country. Thanks to his efforts, Florida State has the 2nd best passing defense in the country in terms of preventing explosive plays. That's an issue for Wake Forest, because if Wake Forest is going to win, then they are likely going to have to hit on some big plays. I don't think Wake can consistently pick Florida State's defense apart for 4-5 yards at a time. If Wake Forest can move the ball against this defense, then fans should be very confident in the team's ability to move the ball for the rest of the season.