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Florida State football v. Wake Forest: Preview and prediction

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FSU and Wake Forest meet in a game that probably shouldn't be played.

Grant Halverson

After playing a team with a good offense and a poor defense, FSU plays a team with a good defense and a poor offense so expect the defense to improve. Much like Dave Doeren at NC State last year, Dave Clawson showed up at Wake Forest only to find an empty cupboard.

Time: 3:30 ET | Line: FSU -38 | O/U 54.5

V. Wake Forest's Defense

Wake Forest's strength is once again on defense. Even though they lost Nikita Whitlock, the Demon Deacon defensive line is a good one. While moving to a 4-2-5 from the 3-4 (the defense played under Grobe) will likely pay off in the long run, it could cause some problems as the year goes on. For now, all is healthy along the line but an injury or two to one of the front four could be a problem.

The Deacon's secondary has long been a strength of the team and continues to be with seniors Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel leading the way. Under Grobe, the Wake defense was a bend-but-don't-break unit that would force teams to execute their way down the field, but Clawson is changing that. Wake Forest has been much more aggressive on defense this year playing more press and blitzing more.

Expect Wake to try and make FSU execute without the use of Rashad Greene and Nick O'Leary. There aren't many defenses, if any, that can take away both of FSU's top receiving threats but this might be the team to do it for a half at least. The problem with the Wake Forest defense is the Wake Forest offense and any strategy is going to quickly fall apart if its horiffic offense cannot eat up some clock. Both Travis Rudolph and Bobo Wilson have shown to be dangerous in their own right and could see more passes come their way against the Deacons, as Jimbo Fisher wants to get in the backups.

FSU's offensive line has not looked like the unit most were expected coming into the season, but it hasn't been as terrible as some have suggested. While they looked better against NC State they need to continue to improve and Wake Forest could provide a good test.

Goals

  • More than 7.0 yards a play before garbage time (350 yards on 50 plays, 420 yards on 60 plays, 490 yards on 70 plays)
  • No more than 1 turnover
  • 66% or greater TDs in the red zone

V. Wake Forest's Offense

This is not a good offense. In fact, it might be a historically bad offense when all is said and done. S&P rankings have them listed at 126 out of 128 teams and the Deacons were only able to muster 100 total yards against Louisville in last week's game. There just isn't much FBS talent at Wake Forest but that will hopefully be changing in the coming years.

Wake entered the spring period of the 2014 pre-season with 6 possible options at QB and none of them looking good. However, if there is a bright spot to this year it's the growth of true freshmen John Wolford. Wolford looks to be a freshman quarterback that can lead Wake Forest to an upset or two in his career, but this is probably not the week. After all, he is a freshman and there isn't much help around him.

Like most offenses, the success and failure of the entire unit depends on the offensive line and this one is as leaky as they come. On the plus side, Wake does have a decent amount of youth on the 2-deep but it's unclear how good they are. This lack of success up front only makes Wolford's success that much more impressive.

Wake Forest did lose quite a bit of skill position players last year but they do return some talent. Unfortunately, that talent is young (most are sophomores) and hasn't quite bloomed yet. None of them currently jump off the paper at you but that's tough to do with a poor offensive line and a young QB.

Yes, this offensive preview is short and that's because there isn't much of anything to the Wake Forest offense. Clawson is a good coach and has shown at past stops that he can field an explosive offense but this isn't the year. It might a be few years before that happens. Expect Wake to try and stay balanced but to not get much of anything going. Surely they will throw in a few misdirection plays to keep the FSU D off-balance (not an extremely hard task due to the unit's lack of attention to detail) but it won't likely be enough to sustain any sort of offensive attack.

Goals

  • Less than 2.5 yards/play allowed before garbage time (125 yards on 50 plays, 150 yards on 60 plays, 175 yards on 70 plays).
  • Force 2 turnovers
  • Less than 50-percent touchdowns allowed in the red zone.

Special Teams

FSU fans know what they have in special teams. There's little more that needs to be said.

Wake Forest has a couple of really good special teams players in punter Alex Kinal (#KinalKount) and kicker Mike Weaver. Kinal has kicked well for Wake (and they've needed it) averaging just over 43 yards/punt and 7 of his 31 punts going for 50+ yards. Weaver has been perfect on his field goal attempts nailing all 7 attempts with a long of 43.

Prediction

Wake Forest could keep things close early against FSU. The Demon Deacons field a good defense and could slow down the game enough on offense to keep FSU from doing much. However, there's just not much there for Wake. In a game that should not be played the goal for both teams is to get out injury free. FSU should use this time to rest starters like PJ Williams as much as possible but it's likely those players will at least start the game. It's very important that the Noles get up big early to rest these players.

Florida State 42, Wake Forest 6 | Chance of winning: 99%

Bud: Florida State 56, Wake Forest 6

Staff Predictions

PhenomeNole: 59-0. This game is so gross. Go Vols!

TimScribble: Nothing special in this game. Maybe the young freshmen WRs get TDs. FSU wins 56-12.

Kyle Griffs: This week our fanbase can finally enjoy a game that doesn't give us a heart attack. Wake struggles to put any points on the board, our offense clicks again like last week and tackling improves. Sean gets some substantial second half playing time. I'll say 52-7 'Noles.

ricobert1: Think ‎FSU is going to score on 9 of its 15 possessions with 6 TDs for 51 points. I really don't think Wake is going to score Saturday, whether we have busts or not.

Fsued: FSU 42-0, at the half. Then cruises to 59-7 win.

Andy Wright: FSU wins 49-3.

Onebarrelrum: This prediction depends on how many picks Wake throws. We'll say less than last year, which is unlikely to happen again. Wake's defense really isn't bad. However, their offense will lose the field position battle and put their defense in bad situations all game. FSU has a better offense than Louisville and will capitalize. FSU will pull away in the 3rd quarter, final score 41-10. If FSU defense gives up more than 250 yards, they still have a LOT to work on.

Matt Minnick: 51-9 FSU. Wake's D makes a few plays early and it's not 35-0 after 16 minutes like last year. But the Nole offense gets going in the second quarter and continues the barrage in the third behind some solid play from the second team OL. Noles get a defensive score as well.

Dustin Tackett: The Deamon Deacs, bless their hearts, have one of the worst offenses I've ever seen. This should not only allow needed rest for guys like P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, but it should be the perfect opportunity to give snaps to the backups, and without sacrificing points. Wake's defense is not nearly as bad as their offense, but needless to say, it's not good enough to slow or stop FSU. Defense scores twice, offense seven times. 63-3 FSU.

NoleThruandThru: 55-7 FSU. Get some nice work in to keep the stars fresh, then empty the bench, coach (save the medical and normal RS candidates).

Michael Rogner: Pain.

The K-man: Weather starts to turn in 2nd half, but not enough to make FSU truly "click". Cold leads to Click, Click leads to Boom. Patience. A 41-3 "meh" game...Vegas pushes. K-Man stares at the "2013 National Champions" inscription on Doak, then looks back to sloppy opponent, then back to inscription, then back to slop, closes his eyes & recalls FSU has dropped 4 of last 8 vs. Wake, back to field, starts to laugh. Friend asks why K-Man is giggling. "I'm not really sure".

pbysh: 41-10. Just a pretty ho-hum game overall, which we sorely need.

Dylan Kidd: 52-6. An angry, if not always perfectly sharp, beat down.

RaysnNoles: FSU drops 60 on Wake and I'm back to the tailgate in the 4th quarter.

Salukinole: 62-10. Late td by wake forest. Backups in by early 3rd quarters.