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Game Preview: Florida State vs. Wake Forest

Game Introduction:

Florida State is searching for its first win of the season as they head north to square off against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. The Deacs look to stay unbeaten as they host the ‘Noles on Saturday. The game will be aired at 3:30 on ABC. 

Headlines: 

James Blackman Looked Sharp

All considering, the 6’5 true freshman looked great on Saturday. Blackman threw a pretty deep ball and made some big plays down field. He showed great chemistry with wide receiver Auden Tate, who had a career day against NC State. However, Tate had to leave the game early with an injury. After Tate’s injury, the ‘Noles struggled to put the ball in the end zone. Which leads me to the next headline…

FSU Needs to Overcome Red Zone Struggles

The ‘Noles had just one touchdown in seven trips to the red zone on Saturday. That is a recipe for disaster for the rest of the season. FSU can’t afford to continue to settle for field goals when it gets in the red zone. Florida State has scored a whopping two touchdowns in two games this season. If the offense can’t finish drives efficiently, there’s only so much the defense can do. The ‘Noles had plenty of opportunities to take the lead against NC State, but just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone.

Wake Forest is Not a Pushover

This is not a Demon Deacons team of old. Senior quarterback John Wolford has led Wake Forest to a 4-0 record, including a 34-10 thrashing of Boston College on the road. Freshman wide receiver Greg Dortch has had a break out year, leading the team with five touchdown catches and 242 yards on 20 catches. In addition, Wake Forest’s defense is legit. They have not allowed a team to score 20 points yet, and have played very discipline. Defensive end Duke Ejiofor is a beast, and will be playing on Sundays very soon.

Burning Questions: 

How will the ‘Noles Offensive Line Hold Up?

Last week I wondered how clean the offensive line could keep Blackman’s jersey. After four quarters, there was a lot of grass stains on it. It looked like the same old story that has plagued the offensive line over the last few years. Blackman took just as many shots as Francois had last year against NC State. The Wake Forest defensive line is the Deacons’ strength, so the ‘Noles starting five will have their hands full in Winston-Salem.

Will Blackman be Rattled on the Road?

There were times against NC State where I thought Blackman showed some nerves. That’s only natural for a true freshman making his first start in a big game. I expect 1 to look a lot more comfortable in the pocket this week, and for Head Coach Jimbo Fisher to straighten out the run game. The first two games have been sub-par for the ‘Noles on the ground, but I expect them to find success against NC State come Saturday.

Can the defense force a turnover?

Two games, zero turnovers for a defense with some of the best talent in the country. To be fair, Derwin James had an interception taken away after a questionable pass interference call against Tarvarus McFadden. With all the playmakers on this defense, I expect them to force some turnovers on Saturday. I think the ‘Noles come to play and force at least three turnovers against Wake Forest.

Forecast: 

Wake Forest looks better every year. They’ve come a long way since the 2013 game when Florida State had six interceptions on its way to a 59-3 rout. With that said, FSU is still the superior team although they have not played like it. The 21 day lay off the ‘Noles suffered thanks to Hurricane Irma had a drastic effect on the players and that was clear on the field Saturday. FSU looked flat with hardly any energy, and got beat by a team who wanted the win more than them. I think these problems will be fixed against Wake Forest, and the dynamic duo of Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick finally produces a big day to relieve pressure off of James Blackman. I’ll take Florida State 34-17, with an all around solid effort from all units. The ‘Noles should move to 1-2 and get ready for the rivalry game against Miami.

Ben Brewton
Writer at Nole Gameday covering football and basketball. FSU alum. Follow me on twitter (@Ben_Brewton) and we can talk sports. On the 8th day, God created college football.

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