Three key matchups for Florida State at NC State

The future is bleak for Florida State (2-5) after a blowout loss against Pittsburgh at home last Saturday. With transfer and opt out rumors circulating, Mike Norvell and the rest of the coaching staff will try to rally the troops as they travel to take on NC State (4-3). The last time these two met, FSU was able to capture a blowout 31-13 win. This time, ‘Noles fans are just hoping for a win. 

Below, I touched on three key matchups for the game, which is set for kickoff at 7 p.m.

1. NC State Pass Offense vs. FSU Pass Defense 

A familiar face will be under center for the Wolfpack on Saturday night. Bailey Hockman, who transferred from FSU in 2018, will make his fifth start of the season against the Seminoles. In their 44-41 loss to Miami, Hockman completed 19 of 28 passes, to go along with 248 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. After an embarrassing performance in Doak Campbell Stadium last season, I am sure Hockman will be seeking revenge in this matchup. The Wolfpack share the ball around, but their two main targets on the outside are receivers Devin Carter (16 catches, 273 yards, two touchdowns) and Emeka Emezie (27 catches, 465 yards, and three touchdowns). Another capable target is tight end Cary Angeline, who seems to be a favorite in the red-zone (six touchdowns). The secondary has struggled in pass coverage outside of Asante Samuel Jr. Redshirt freshman Jarvis Brownlee Jr has improved each game, but the rest of the unit must improve if the ‘Noles hope to slow down the NC State air attack.  

2. Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight vs FSU Rush Defense 

The Wolfpack have a 1-2 punch in the backfield that should worry FSU fans. Ricky Person Jr (85 carries, 414 yards, three touchdowns) and Zonovan Knight (82 carries, 451 yards, four touchdowns) could be in for career days against a lackluster rush defense. The ‘Noles defense has struggled across the board, but the inability to stop the run has been evident all year. Linebackers Amari Gainer and Stephen Dix. Jr. seem to be only bright spots in the tackling department, with senior Emmett Rice showing flashes at times. The rest of the team, specifically the defensive line, has just not shown the ability to hold the opposing runners in check. Add on the lack of adjustments we have seen, and this game could result in a big day for Knight and Person Jr. 

3. FSU Rush Offense vs. NC State Rush Defense 

This matchup is more in regards to FSU than NC State. The Wolfpack allow 183 yards on the ground per game, and the Seminoles can surely topple that mark. But under Jordan Travis, I think the passing offense will always have a ceiling. I think we have hit that ceiling, but it seems like Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham refuse to fully commit to the run game. While he may not be the best passer, Travis provides the offense with the best rushing upside. Against Pittsburgh, he had 14 carries for 80 yards, including a 88 yard touchdown. Jashaun Corbin and La’Damian Webb both toataled 31 yards each on seven and six carries, respectively. While they are limited behind this offensive line, I think this offense has not utilized the skill of Corbin and Webb enough. I think all of us would like to see freshman Lawrance Toafili on the field more. Hopefully, the offense balances out and uses the backfield in the game plan more this weekend.

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