There won’t necessarily be any evangelists in Tallahassee's Doak Campbell Stadium this weekend laying their hands on foreheads screaming “Demons out!” But there may be an exorcism of sorts.
This Saturday, the Florida State Seminoles will host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons—a team that has handed the 'Noles three losses in the past four years, including the last two in Tallahassee (30-0 in ’06, 12-3 in ’08).
FSU would like to cleanse their spirits and their palettes of those loses with a big win in their first conference game of the 2010 season.
The recent past should force the 'Noles to be on alert. It seems every time FSU gets a big win they follow it up with a puzzling loss.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has been diligent since Saturday’s 34-10 win over BYU in re-focusing his team on the task as hand: preparing for a cerebral, intelligent team that seemingly has FSU’s number.
The Wake Forest offense employs a complicated misdirection scheme that forces defenses to play assignment football—the precise type of defense that the 'Noles haven’t been able to play this decade.
The Deacs defense is also complex, as they show multiple fronts and coverages in an attempt to confuse and outsmart opposing quarterbacks.
Wake Forest got off to a hot start this season, averaging nearly 54 points a game against inferior opponents in their first two games, but was brought down to earth last week. They were routed by Stanford 68-24 in Palo Alto. The Deacons’ 44 points-per-game average is currently tops in the ACC, though, and 12th in the nation.
Wake Forest rotates two quarterbacks who have different skills. Freshman Tanner Price has thrown for 270 yards and three touchdowns while sophomore Ted Stachinas leads the team is rushing with 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Price tends to get the majority of snaps, and also leads the team in rushing attempts, but Wake employs a true “Running Back by Committee” scheme, as seven players have double-digit carries through three games.
Stachinas hasn’t really threatened anyone through the air, as he’s completed only seven passes for 84 yards and an interception.
The real threat to FSU’s defense is senior running back Josh Adams. He’s had a very slow start, rushing for only 69 yards on 18 carries. He’s also been overshadowed by the play of redshirt freshman running back Josh Harris (139 yards, two touchdowns).
Adams seems to show up and play the game of his life when it’s against FSU. Adams had two rushing touchdowns last year versus the 'Noles.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Givens leads the receivers (206 yards in only two games), but Wake’s attack is more ground-oriented than aerial.
On the other side of the ball, Wake’s defense hasn’t been very good. They’ve allowed 129 points through three games (with half of that coming against them in the Stanford game).
The second quarter hasn’t been kind to the Deacons: they’ve allowed 55 points in that quarter this season.
The Demon Deacons weakness thus far has been the pass defense. They’ve given up 882 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air.
Worse, their red zone defense has been embarrassing. Wake’s opponents are a perfect 13-for-13 inside the 20-yard line, including 12 touchdowns.
Despite these salivating stats, defenders Alex Frye and Kyle Wilber are amongst the NCAA leaders in interceptions (Frye has three) and tackles for loss (Wilber has eight).
Based on the numbers, it looks like FSU should cruise to an easy win. Season statistics, however, never seem to equate to victories in this series. The word of the week for the Seminoles is “preparation” not "numbers."
Last week, FSU’s defense was the story around Tallahassee, as their constant hassling and pressure on BYU’s quarterbacks reminded older 'Nole fans and alums of glorious seasons past.
Regardless of the Seminoles offense, the D can control this game and put it away early if each player simply does his job and stays on his keys.
Last week’s defensive heroes could be the difference on Saturday. Brandon Jenkins, and Everette Dawkins made waves up front while Xavier Rhodes, Lamarcus Joyner, and Nick Moody locked down BYU in the secondary. All five players are freshmen and sophomores.
At Monday’s press conference, Coach Fisher and Christian Ponder both stressed the need for this team to stay focused, prepare hard, and not let complacency creep in, as FSU has done in the recent past. There might not be a known cure for the most common illness of underclassmen, though: inconsistency.
Every Saturday, a new name appears atop the stat sheet. This can be viewed as a good thing, but to win two in a row, FSU needs some level of consistency on both sides of the ball. If these young Seminoles show up to play Saturday, they could easily start their ACC campaign 1-0.
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