The Road to Charlotte: Game 4- Wake Forest

Florida State starts the 2010 season with 3 out of conference games, but in game 4 the Seminoles play their first ACC game against Wake Forest. NoleDigest continues to look at the season as we preview the Road to the ACC Championship Game.

Wake Forest has been a thorn in Florida State's side over the past several years, especially at home. The Demon Deacons have won their past 2 games at Doak Campbell, with one being the embarrassing 30-0 loss that began the program changes at FSU.

Last year's game saw the debut of E.J. Manuel as the ‘Noles dominated in a 41-28 victory that put a halt to run the Deacs had over the Seminoles.

The 2010 edition of Wake is coming off of a 5-7 season, which was their first losing season in a five year span. 5 of Wake's losses came by 3 points or less, so there is optimism that Wake can get back to their winning ways. With 13 starters returning The Deacs do have experience on both sides of the ball.

For Wake the glaring hole for them is at quarterback as they replace 4 year starter Riley Skinner. Skinner won't be easily replaced. Skylar Jones is thought to be the starter heading into the season, but Ted Stechitas, Turner Faulk and Brenden Cross will compete for the starting spot. The offense's success is contingent on whether one of these players can take the starter role and run with it.

Running back and wide receiver are strong spots for Wake, so there will be help for the incumbent signal caller. Josh Adams returns, as does Brandon Pendergrass at running back. Adams has been a force since his first year in college.

Marshall Williams, Devin Brown and Chris Givens give Wake 3 returning wide receivers. There was balance with this threesome as each had at least 45 catches, 600 yards and 6 scores. The offense will lean on this group to move the chain for the offense. Coach Jim Grobe loves to run, but his offense in 2010 will have a better than average passing attack.

Right after quarterback, questions along the offensive line will dictate what the offense can do. They will be replacing 2 tackles, and there are only 2 starters returning. The game is won and lost in the trenches so Wake has to get it right up front.

Defensively Wake returns 7 starters so look for them to play better than they did in 2009. The key area for Wake is in the secondary as they return 3 starters. Corner Kenny Okoro is an up and coming defensive back who'll contend for All-ACC honors. Cyhil Quarles and Alex Frye return at safety. Teams that passed well moved the ball on this unit but the extra year of experience should help this group this year.

Along the front 7 Wake will be featuring new starters at defensive tackle and at strong-side linebacker. Tristan Dorty, Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes must player better this year for this unit to have a good year.

What FSU must do to win: This is the first conference game and it is an opportunity to get off to a great start in ACC play. The questions up front on both sides should allow FSU to control this game. Christian Ponder will play well in this game; the lack of pressure up front will allow the Heisman contender the chance to sit and pick where he wants to go with the ball.

On defense FSU will need to put pressure on the quarterback. Like the BYU game FSU will be facing a rookie QB, so pressure will allow the Seminoles defense to create turnovers. FSU should be able to make some plays; they'll need the defensive backs to keep their man in front of them and lock down Wake's playmakers. The experience at receiver for Wake should allow them to move the ball.

NoleDigest too early prediction: FSU should be able to win this game pretty easily like last year. There are too many questions along both lines and at quarterback for Wake to beat this experienced FSU team. The defense has enough up front to wreak havoc on Wake's offense. NoleDigest expects this to be an easy win as the Seminoles move to 1-0 in ACC play.

FSU 40 Wake Forest 13

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