Sunday Thoughts: Florida State vs. Wake Forest

Sept 15, 2012; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Ej Manuel (3) throws the ball during the second half of the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

The following post was authored by Tomahawk Nation contributor Alan Mundy (idontwan2know).

Florida State dominated Wake Forest in a 52-0 throttling saturday. The defense and running game were absolutely dominant. Some initial observations after a first viewing of the game:

  • While we won’t get into percentages as EJ Manuel did after the Savannah State game, it is clear that FSU had been holding back a lot of the offense. We saw a lot of new things from the Seminole offense, including a heavy dose of zone read and some packaged plays that included run and pass options in the same play.
  • The passing game as a whole struggled at times. This was likely due to a number of factors, including some missed blitz pickups, drops by receivers, running new stuff for the first time in a game against an unusual defensive front, and some inaccurate throws from the quarterback. As usual, when the passing game struggles fans immediately place blame on the quarterback, but there were many factors, not least of which being a limited number of attempts early in the game. FSU ran nearly twice as many designed runs as called passes (21 to 12, respectively) in the first half. This is not a criticism of Jimbo Fisher’s play calling as the results speak for themselves, but it does help to put the issues in the passing game into perspective.
  • With all of the above in mind, EJ definitely displayed consistent accuracy issues on intermediate routes. Especially puzzling was his poor placement of some corners, which is usually a route he throws very well.
  • It goes without saying that FSU ate Wake Forest’s lunch on outside zone runs. This was aided significantly by some tremendous blocking by the wide receiver corps. There were multiple instances of FSU receivers blocking Wake Forest defenders completely off the field. Wake Forest played two high safeties all game long and FSU was happy to run the ball against 7 in the box. This is a key difference from last year, when FSU could not consistently run against 6/7 in the box.
  • As impressive as the receivers were as blockers, their propensity for drops is becoming a concern. We have seen multiple drops from the receiver position in each of FSU’s three games. Receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey needs to get on this to make sure it doesn’t become a habit.
  • It’s hard to talk about this FSU defense and sound reasonable. You look for things to improve on, and they are few and far between. They did surrender one long run in the first quarter and a long pass play in the third quarter. Those two plays accounted for 75 of Wake Forest’s 126 total yards (60%).
  • If Telvin Smith continues to improve on his technique and assignment discipline, he could ultimately become as good or better than Christian Jones in pass coverage, and that is extraordinary praise. On one play yesterday, he ran 20+ yards downfield with a receiver in the seam and was in perfect hip pocket position. Any DB would be proud of that play.
  • The future of FSU’s defensive backfield is extremely bright. It should be understood that Wake Forest has no one who could challenge FSU deep, but the performance was still outstanding.

Wake Forest is not a good team, but they are a BCS conference team with legitimate athletes and some good players. Maybe the most impressive thing about FSU’s win was the way they completely shut down a good WR/QB combo in Tanner Price (8/22 for 87 yards) and Micheal Campanaro (2 receptions for 8 yards). If a team is going to have success against FSU, they must be able to achieve at least a stalemate at the line of scrimmage and have multiple skill position weapons. Does Clemson fit the bill? We’ll find out Saturday night in Tallahassee.

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