KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:30 ET
KEYS TO THE GAMEFor Florida State: Establish control early in the first half. While Wake Forest doesn't have an intimidating stadium, this will be a big crowd for the Deacons and a game their players have pointed toward. FSU can't provide hope to the Deacons with sloppy play and penalties.
For Wake Forest: Get the running game moving. Wake Forest's sputtering rushing game will be challenged against a Florida State defense that ranks 12th nationally against the run. Wake's defense will have to avoid giving up big chunks of yards, as was a tendency earlier in the season.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS
Florida State has fallen all the way to No. 115 out of 120 teams in Division I-A in rushing offense, averaging just 79.5 yards per game. This was the kind of anemic rushing attack that was prevalent when Jeff Bowden was the offensive coordinator. And if you take away QB E.J. Manuel's rushing in the first three games, the per-game average gets much worse. The Seminoles hope the return of Manuel, who provides a running threat, might ease the situation. It's obvious the Seminoles have not felt confident in freshmen Devonta Freeman or James Wilder to put them into pressure situations. Injuries, lack of depth and lack of practice in the spring and preseason have all been factors hurting this offensive line.
FSU's defense took a major step backward against Clemson, resembling the porous group of past years. The 'Noles gave up 445 yards total offense, including 334 passing yards, and hurt themselves with penalties and an inability to stop third-and-long situations. It seemed like the physical nature of the Oklahoma game sapped the energy from the FSU defense. The unit couldn't get off the field and was unable to contain Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. But with a week off to heal physically and emotionally, FSU coaches hoped for a much better performance against Wake Forest. Having CB Greg Reid, the team's top cover corner, back on the field should help.
Wake Forest has been mostly a pass-oriented group on offense, and yet there's still the weekly expectation that the rushing attack could start to flourish. The receivers appear to be operating on all cylinders with WR Chris Givens finding ways to get open, and that's creating openings for others, too. The Demon Deacons are stressing better blocking from their receivers. QB Tanner Price has thrown seven touchdowns, the same number for all of last season in his 11 games.
The Demon Deacons have developed depth in several areas on defense, and that could be vital if they can keep fresh players on the field against Florida State. There's a rotation of four players at the inside linebacker slots and the secondary has been using multiple combinations, particularly with the return of injured S Daniel Mack. Manuel made his first career start two years ago at Wake Forest, and his ability to be elusive could continue to be problematic for the Demon Deacons.
Seminoles: Florida State is 6-2 against Wake Forest in games played at Winston-Salem. ... The Seminoles have won the last two in the series after losing three in a row from 2006-08. ... This is the second time since 1990 that the 'Noles have been 2-2 after four games. The other was in 2009, coach Bobby Bowden's last season. .... This is the first time since 2001 the 'Noles have opened ACC play with back-to-back road games. They lost their opener at Clemson and had an open date last week. ... WR Rashad Greene, a true freshman, is FSU's second-leading scorer, behind K Dustin Hopkins, with five touchdowns in four games. All of the TDs have been longer than 28 yards, and all of them were passes thrown by redshirt freshman QB Clint Trickett. ... Trickett became the sixth quarterback in the ACC to make his starting debut this year, and his performance (336 yards passing, 3 TDs) included the seventh-best passing total in league history by a first-time starter. ... Hopkins has successfully converted his last 14 field-goal attempts, including all seven this season. Hopkins has also recorded 14 touchbacks on kickoffs this year, including five against Clemson. His career accuracy on field goals is 48 for 62 (.774), the seventh-best accuracy rate in ACC history among kickers with 50 or more attempts.
Demon Deacons: Wake Forest is aiming for its first 3-0 start in ACC play. This marks only the seventh time in 58 ACC seasons that the Demon Deacons have won their first two conference games. Their most-recent 2-0 league start came in 2008, though Wake Forest has ended up with a winning ACC record only twice in its previous six 2-0 starts. ... The Demon Deacons went into their last game coming off an open date before defeating Boston College. Now the roles are reversed for Wake Forest, which takes on visiting Florida State in its next game. Florida State will enter that game coming off an open date on its schedule. ... The Deacons have won three in a row over N.C. State, Gardner-Webb, and BC since losing their opener at Syracuse in overtime. ... Sophomore RB Josh Harris needs just four yards rushing to hit the 1,000-yard mark for his career. ... S Cyhl Quarles was one off the team high for tackles in the game at Boston College. That ended his streak of three consecutive games as the team's leading tackler. He has a team-high 34 tackles this year. ... Givens landed ACC Receiver of the Week honors after the Boston College game. His 498 yards receiving mark the best start in school history for a receiver.
Seminoles: Manuel (shoulder, probable), Reid (knee, probable), WR Bert Reed (ankle, doubtful), WR Jarred Haggins (hand, out), WR Kenny Shaw (concussion, probable), WR Willie Haulstead (concussion, out).
Demon Deacons: CB Dominique Tate (knee, doubtful).
Saturday Snapshot: 'Noles vs. Deacons
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