Wake is back home on Saturday, hosting the Florida State Seminoles at 3:30 pm in a game that will be broadcast on national TV. The Seminoles limp into town with an 0-2 record, after seeing two of their early-season games cancelled or delayed by Hurricane Irma. Let’s take a look at the FSU offense heading into this game.
FSU has suffered a few key injuries on offense, none bigger than losing last year’s ACC Rookie of the Year, quarterback Deondre Francois. He suffered a patella tendon injury in the game against Alabama, and is out for the season.
That injury has left true freshman James Blackman to take the reins of the Seminole offense. Blackman is a 6’5” dual-threat QB who was widely-ranked as a 4 star recruit. His first game was last week against NC State, and despite a rocky start he finished with a fine performance: 22-38 for 278 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. He also carried 6 times for 11 yards, and fumbled the ball once at the end of a long run.
FSU suffered another setback during the NC State game when 6’5” WR Auden Tate went down with a shoulder injury. The junior was the leading receiver for the Noles so far in this short season, with team highs in receptions (11), yards (179), and touchdowns (2). No other receiver has caught a TD pass for FSU so far this year.
Tate is day-to-day, so it’s not clear whether he’ll be able to suit up against the Deacs. FSU’s only other receiver with over 35 yards/game is George Campbell, a 6’3” sophomore who has caught 4 balls for 106 yards.
Junior Nyqwan Murray has had a quiet start to the season, with 8 receptions and 58 yards. That said, he had the most receiving yards last year out of FSU’s returning players (including Tate), so don’t be surprised to see him make an impact soonerrather than later.
Dalvin Cook left some enormous shoes to fill. The two running backs who have accumulated carries for FSU so far this year are junior Jacques Patrick and freshman Cam Akers. Patrick has 55 yards on 14 carries (3.9 ypc) and Akers has 85 yards on 22 carries (also 3.9 ypc).
In each of the past two years, Patrick has earned at least 5 yards per carry while backing up Cook. FSU has played some very stout run defenses in Alabama and NC State, so it’s safe to assume those numbers will improve throughout the year.
The offensive line has been a weakness for Florida State this year. They’ve allowed 7 sacks over two games - only 5 FBS teams have allowed more per game. Again, though, they’ve played some strong and talented defensive fronts, so those numbers may be a little skewed.
FSU is missing their starting quarterback, and may be down a top receiver as well. However, Blackman has proven to be no slouch replacing Francois, and the Noles have playmakers at WR and RB who are likely itching for a breakout performance after the disappointing start to the season.
The good news is, while Wake isn’t quite ‘Bama, our defensive line is a position of strength that should mach up well against FSU’s offensive line. The Deacs registered 7 tackles for loss against App State, but were unable to get to QB Taylor Lamb a single time on Saturday. Hopefully this is a bounce-back performance for Wake’s pass rushers.
Keeping the pressure up-front will help lessen the pressure down the field. The Deacs certainly have some playmakers in the secondary, but we have been beaten deep a few too many times so far. It hasn’t cost us a game yet, but it’s something that hopefully improves as the season progresses. Blackman completed three passes over 20 yards against NC State, including 51 and 60 yard bombs.
FSU’s offense isn’t at 100%, but they still have a bunch of talented guys all over the field. Wake’s defense will have its work cut out for it in stopping what’s sure to be a hungry Noles offense.