About Florida State
Offensively the big question this week centers around the play of senior Quarterback Christian Ponder. Is he healthy? Ponder is completing just under 59% of his passes and has thrown for 429 yards in three games. He has five TD passes and three interceptions. These are not the numbers we expected from the Heisman candidate which is sparking conversation regarding his health. He clearly got banged up in the Oklahoma game, the hope is that he just needed some time to shake it off. He has proven to be a gamer in the past and there is no reason to doubt him now.
Ty Jones(219 yards, 8.1 average), Chris Thompson(150 yards, 8.8), and Jermaine Thomas(98 yards, 4.3) are the three-headed monster at running back. Jones has been the most consistent while Thompson made the big play last week. Thomas opened the season as the starter, but has struggled to find his rhythm thus far. Look for him to bounce back over the next couple of weeks.
Wide Receiver's Bert Reed(17-170) and Taiwan Easterling(8-126) are performing exactly they way we would expect, but the 'Noles need to get more out of Willie Haulstead(4-112) and Rodney Smith(3-60). Smith was open several times vs. BYU, but Ponder did not see him down the field. Haulstead appears to be close to breaking out with a big game. 'Nole Tight End's have just one catch on the year.
The offensive line has gotten better each week and last week they did it without starting LT Andrew Datko. Redshirt freshmen Henry Orelus filled in admirably. Going into the season this unit was expected to be a strength and it appears that will be the case.
CB Greg Reid: 20
LB Nigel Bradham: 20
LB Kendall Smith: 15
Everett Dawkins: 4
Brandon Jenkins: 3.5
Demonte McAllister: 3.5
Bjoern Werner: 2.5
*FSU has just two picks on the season(Xavier Rhodes, Mike Harris).
The defense has had two quality games, but struggled against an OU offense that was "on". The good news is the play of youngsters Rhodes, Werner, Dawkins, and Lamarcus Joyner which bodes well for the future. Bradham bounced back with a strong game on Saturday.
About Wake Forest
The offense, on paper, does not seem to be much of a problem for the Demon Deacon's scoring 53, 54, and 24 points in their first three games. However, Presbyterian and Duke leave a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the ball. Still they can feel pretty good about themselves and the WF "O" has given FSU trouble in the past.
Wide Receiver's Chris Givens(8-206) and Marshall Williams(5-98) are the top outside threats, but WF likes to get the running back's involved in the passing game, particularly Brown. Former UA All-American Michael Campanaro is a player to keep an eye on.
Cyhl Quarles: 21
Kyle Wilber: 20
Matt Woodlief: 16
*WF has five interceptions, led by three from Wilber.
Defensive End Kyle Wilber is having a monster season and is just about the only player who is getting the job done on this statistically awful defense.
Wake Forest's first three opponents have shredded the secondary to the tune of 882 yards passing while gashing the front seven with just over 500 yards rushing.
Stanford's Andrew Luck has a monster game at home; he threw for 207 yards on 17-23 passing while also rushing for 69 yards on three carries.
This is an excellent opportunity for the Florida State offense (and in particular Ponder) to get on track. They were much better in the second half vs. BYU, executing better, and finishing plays. Ponder should have plenty of time to throw and as Luck showed, the running lanes are open as well.
Offense is not the problem in Winston-Salem so the 'Nole defense will need to be ready to play. Starting Stachitas may be so they can redshirt the impressive Price.
The Demon Deacon's are well coached by Jim Grobe and the last five years they have done extremely well in conference play. They do have the concern of playing a late Saturday night game across the country in California---and we are sure it was a LONG ride home after a 62-24 beatdown---and then going on the road this week again(even if it is a short trip). It does not leave a lot of excess time.
There are simply too many things in FSU's favor in this one as the Seminoles break this game open in the second quarter and cruise to a 42-13 win to open ACC play. Ponder responds with a big game and the defensive continues to show signs of life.