Column: FSU must run against NC State

The Atlantic Division of the ACC is pretty crowded right now thus making FSU's Thursday night showdown with NC State all the more important. If the Tribe wants to come out of Raleigh, N.C. with a victory, there is one thing they must do: run the football successfully.

In their last game, the Florida State offense racked up big yards on the ground – 287 of them to be exact.

But despite the high output, there is still a feeling around campus and amongst the Seminole faithful that this team has yet to prove anything. Not to take anything away from the Rice Owls, but an exorbitant amount of yards against them should be a given when it's coming at the hands of the traditionally dominant Seminoles.

So, that leads us to Thursday night, where because of the interesting way that the conference has played out so far this season, FSU finds itself in a must-win situation. In fact, it should also be called a must-run situation, too, if the 'Noles don't want to be left behind in the race to Jacksonville.

As a one-dimensional team a season ago, the Wolfpack embarrassed the Seminole offense, holding them to just 43 yards on the ground on 20 carries. It was the game that finally exposed all of the problems that the Tribe was going through and it led to some bad games right after.

Fast forward one season and FSU is very much in a similar position – although it's earlier in the year.

FSU (not counting the game against the Owls) could still be considered a one-dimensional squad on offense. They key for them Thursday is to make sure the Wolfpack defense doesn't expose them again.

Simply put, FSU must run the football successfully to come away with a win in Raleigh, N.C. There is no other way to say but it has to happen.

Offensive coaches were pleased with the way that the tailbacks waited for blocks and waited for holes to open up in their last outing but the same holes in the defense that were there against Rice aren't expected this time around.

Granted, NC State doesn't boast the same standout defensive line that it did a year ago (three first rounders on a line, ain't bad). But the unit as a whole is still very talented.

"It's hard to get outside those guys and it's hard to play guys so big (and) that move so well," starting tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "They said Manny Lawson was a hurdles champion or something like that. Not only were they huge and hard to move (but) they're athletic."

Helping matters for the Seminoles may be the fact that, unlike previous conferences foes Miami and Clemson, the Wolfpack hasn't put up the same numbers against the rush.

While the Tigers and Hurricanes rank No. 1 and 3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference defending the run, respetively, N.C. State is near the bottom at No. 10. In front of just North Carolina and Maryland.

Remember: the Tribe mustered just a combined 43 yards on the ground in games against Clemson and Miami.

It will be interesting to see how things play out Thursday night on ESPN.

If NC State stuffs the run early, will FSU abandon the run and take to the air? Against Rice, FSU was able to rush to a fast start and never had to prove that is indeed something they are capable of doing.

"It's a collaborative effort," Booker said about the backs and coaches. "(Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden) has to have a commitment to the run and we have to not get penalties on 3-and-1. We have to keep getting first downs. As long as we sustain drives we'll be all right."

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