FSU vs. North Carolina Preview

Florida State(6-2) plays North Carolina(5-3) Saturday afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium in game that could shape both teams seasons. The 'Noles need to respond from Thursday night's near miss while the beaten up Tar Heels need to build some confidence.

Quarterback

North Carolina senior T.J. Yates (145-236(66%), 1,873 yards, 12/4) is having a very good year considering some of his struggles during his first three years. It is not completely unexpected however as you will not find many more experienced QBs in the country. If he has time to throw he can hurt you. FSU does not need to worry about Yates beating them with his feet. In the end, the Tar Heels are rather basic offensively relying on execution. Because of that a lot is riding on Yates every game.

While a lot of Seminole's have gotten sacks, Brandon Jenkins(8) has been the most consistent pass rusher and someone who should receive increased attention from the UNC OL.

Florida State senior Christian Ponder(127-210, 1,383 yards, 13/7) will have an opportunity to rebound from the costly fumble against NCSU. It has not been the individual season that many envisioned, but he is a simple pass away from 7-1. UNC will need to keep an eye on Ponder as his running ability is worth several first downs every game.

Quinton Coples(5.5 sacks) is the best pass rusher for the Tar Heel's.

Running Back

Johnny White(123-713, 6 TD) is having a terrific senior season. He does not have a lot of flash(despite a long TD vs. Miami). Shaun Draughn(76-363, 4 TD) is another 200+ pound back who is a tough runner inside. No secrets to stopping this duo, FSU will need to tackle well and keep their assignments.

FSU has gone with three backs all year and that is not likely to change. Juniors Ty Jones(56-426) and Jermaine Thomas(74-446) join sophomore Chris Thompson(63-485) to form an outstanding trio of backs. Jones had the big game last week and it appears as if it might be Thomas's turn to make some plays. Combined they average over seven yards a carry which is extremely impressive.

Wide Receiver

Dwight Jones(32-483, 3 TD), Zack Pianalto(30-311, 1 TD), and Jheranie Boyd(13-296, 3 TD) are the three top targets. Jones has shown some big play ability and needs to be kept in check. Boyd was sensational vs. LSU, but has largely disappeared since then. Pianalto is a TE and a good, consistent one. It should be no surprise when he is targeted.

Bert Reed(40-391) had a couple of big plays taken away last week, but still made an important one late in the game. That has been a great sign as his yards per catch is very pedestrian. Taiwan Easterling(23-369) has been a little quiet recently, he did have the big play late in the 4th quarter last week, but that was his only play. Willie Haulstead(22-317) and Rodney Smith(15-151) continue to develop.

Offensive Outlook

North Carolina is averaging just over 25 points per game. This would be the type of game where they should not reach that average especially when you consider that FSU's defense yields around 17. That second number seems about right in this one for UNC's offensive output.

FSU's offense is averaging 33.5 points per game. At full strength UNC might have had the best defense in the country. That is not the case with suspensions and injury. They are playing a lot of young players. While FSU might not quite hit that average, it will be close. Let's say around 30.

Florida State 30, North Carolina 17


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