A double digit favorite over the Demon Deacons, Florida State gave fans cause for concern for roughly a quarter. By the end of the half, all worry was erased. One stat was particularly eye popping. Fittingly, it comes from the first half.
Lead by Chris Thompson, who had 197 of the 282 rushing yards the Seminoles logged on Saturday, the Florida State offense was able to gain nearly 300 yards on the ground in the first half. Thompson, as we talked about over the weekend, scored on runs of 74 and 80 in the first half. E.J. Manuel scored the game's first points on a 16 yard run of his own. Florida State's ability to run the ball consistently well against Wake Forest, and their ability to create explosive plays in the run game, helped to take pressure off of the passing game which is still progressing. Teamed with the dominance of the defense, the running game in the first half helped make sure that starters didn't have to play the fourth quarter against a clearly inferior opponent.
The offensive line, which did at times struggle with pass protection, continued to give the backs consistent running lanes. Guards Josue Matias and Tre Jackson deserve a lot of the credit for the explosive nature of the run game this week, allowing Chris Thompson to do what he does best, which is bust long runs on stretch plays by being aggressive and making one cut. The wide receivers also get a ton of credit blocking well down field for Thompson at the second and third level.
Honorable Mention: The rushing performance in the first half was an easy choice for stat of the game. However, the special teams put on a show. Dustin Hopkins is elite, as are the athletes on special teams. Freshman punter Cason Beatty also had outstanding game, pinning Wake Forest deep in their own territory. These were the starting positions of Wake that didn't come from a turnover (all on Wake side of the field): 16, 5, 5, 15, 19, 18, 13, 25, 20, 14, 20, 19, 25, 27 for an average of Wakes own 17 yard line. That is incredible. Add in Rashad Greene's punt return and the 'Noles had one incredible day on Special Teams.