The Florida State Seminoles lost to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 35-30. This was a big game for Wake Forest, as many popular Wake figures were back in town to celebrate the unveiling of the video board. Wake stormed out early, but it appeared that the 'Noles lost this one much earlier -- during the weekly game prep in which FSU likely didn't take Wake seriously enough. That falls on the coaching staff. In the game preview, we raised this concern, asking whether FSU would take Wake Forest seriously during the week.
Last week, we said the loss against Clemson was on the defense. Today, the loss falls on both the offense and defense, but the former deserves more of the blame this time around.
FSU was determined not to play E.J. Manuel and his injured shoulder in this game. And the 'Noles assumed they could win with red-shirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett. After last week's game against Clemson, that assumption looked safe. But as we worried about in the game preview, Clint Trickett did indeed have his "freshman game," going 6-11 for 28 yards and two interceptions. In a desperation move, FSU turned to the injured Manuel, who was clearly limited and did not attempt to run at all. Manuel had an up-and-down game, throwing for 286 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It didn't look like Manuel re-injured his shoulder, but he's not the same player without the run threat. Whether Manuel should have played at all is debatable.
FSU rushed 25 times for 128 yards, for a sizable average. Running back Chris Thompson re-injured his back, breaking the t-5 and t-6 . That's in addition to left tackle Andrew Datko, who was replaced by freshman Bobby Hart, with mixed results at best.
FSU did amass 5.8 yards/play, short of our projected 6.0 yards/play. But five FSU turnovers gave Wake Forest great field position all day.
And while FSU's defense definitely wasn't as bad as 35 points indicate, it was a less than stellar effort. Florida State allowed 5.2 yards/play, which was .2 more per play than expected. And FSU forced zero turnovers.
Greg Reid was beaten on a wide-receiver throwback pass, which isn't all bad except that Wake had thrown a pass with that receiver in the previous two ACC games (he should have known). Terrance Parks was wildly out of position on several big Wake Forest plays, and the linebacking corps was poor overall. The defensive line was not terrible, and played hard for the most part.
Penalties again plagued FSU this week, but unlike last week in which we questioned many of the calls, these were legit penalties against FSU. Sure, some calls can be debated, but both teams were heavily penalized (FSU 13-109, Wake 10-87).
The penalties were indicative of the lack of focus exhibited by the team today.
In the previous two losses (Oklahoma and at Clemson), FSU was legitimately the inferior team and the underdog, and thus losses were understandable and expected.
Neither of those situations apply today. This was a very different brand of loss. An unacceptable loss. FSU easily has better talent than Wake Forest. The coaching staff is paid top dollar not only to win big games, but also to not have letdowns like these. The coaching staff failed to get the players prepared and in the right frame of mind. A few of these will happen in a career, but Jimbo and Co. are going to need to get things righted and quickly.
We'll examine where FSU goes from here throughout the week.