Our Deacs are 4-0 after an incredible win in Boone last weekend, but they don’t have much time to celebrate with Florida State coming to town. While the Noles have yet to win a game, they are still a very, very good football team that is probably looking to make a statement on Saturday. The Deacs are in for a tough fight now that the Florida State offense has had time to gel with their new starting QB, James Blackman. Let’s take a look at a couple of players who’s name you will almost definitely hear on Saturday.
Offense: Auden Tate | Junior WR | #18
First, I must point out that Tate did suffer a shoulder injury in the NC State game, and is listed as day to day. That of course means there is chance that he won’t be playing in Winston Salem this weekend, but if he does play, he will likely see plenty of passes thrown in his direction. Against the Wolfpack last week, Tate caught 9 passes for 138 yards and 1 TD and quickly became Blackman’s favorite target to throw to. On the season, he has caught 11 passes for 179 yards and 2 TDs, and is the only FSU player so far this season to make it into the end zone. The Deacon secondary gave up 372 yards through the air last weekend at App, and it’s highly unlikely that the Mountaineers have any receivers with the combination of speed and skill in a 6-5 frame that Tate possesses. That could mean trouble for the Deacs. Blitzing could be particularly effective in helping alleviate some of the pressure on the secondary as Blackman is making his 1st start on the road and could be susceptible to getting rattled and making poor throws. If the Deacs are unable to get pressure on Blackman, the secondary may have a long day trying to defend Tate down the field.
Defense: Derwin James | RS Sophomore DB | #3
If you’re a big college football fan, you’ve probably heard of Derwin James already, as he is often touted as the best defensive player in the country. Sports Illustrated listed him as THE best player in college football going into the 2017 season in their top 100; The USA Today had an article on James before the season stating that he had a legitimate chance of winning the Heisman Trophy this season. Simply put, Derwin James is very good at footall. He is an extremely versatile defensive back who lines up all over the field and can make plays in every facet of the game. He was named a Freshman All American in 2015 for his 91 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles. From these stats its pretty obvious why people are so high on James; He’s a defensive back who can do a little bit of everything. James unfortunately missed almost all of last season due to a knee injury, but he’s already back on track this year with 14 tackles, half a sack and 1 pass defended through just 2 games. Because James is capable of making such an impact from anywhere on the field, it will be crucial that the Wake Forest offense be aware of where he is on every play.