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Florida State football v. North Carolina State: Preview and prediction

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The Noles travel to their own personal house of horrors to take on the Wolfpack. Will FSU survive the trip?

Ronald Martinez

North Carolina State had a rough go of things last year. After starting off 3-1 they failed to win another game all season (0-8 in ACC play) but this year could be different. NC State enters the game 4-0 and needs only 2 wins for bowl eligibility. That's a pretty good turnaround from last year's team and it's being done while coach Dave Doren tries to restock the bare cupboard left by former coach Tom O'Brien.

Time: 3:30 ET | Line: FSU -19 | O/U 58

V. North Carolina State's Defense

This is a not good defense. However, there are some bright spots for NC State. Senior DT Thomas Teal has looked very good this year and the players surrounding him have benefited as 3 of NC State's top 4 TFL leaders are along the line. This is going to be a tough test for the FSU offensive line as they have not looked like the dominant force most expected with the season started. Coaches need to stop asking Austin Barron to be Bryan Stork. Florida State asks a lot of its center especially in the way of reach blocks and a large majority of linemen in college football cannot execute those at the level FSU asks. If FSU can ask more realistic responsibilities of Barron and Cam Erving can regain some semblance of his 2013 form the run game should blossom.

Even if the OL for FSU doesn't take a step forward FSU will still have plenty of opportunities to against the Wolfpack. NC State hasn't stopped the run well, although they look improved from last year, and has stopped the pass even worse. While the secondary returned a host of players from last year a new defensive scheme and continued youth (only 1 starting SR in the defensive backfield) have hindered the unit's progress.

If NC State is going to have any luck stopping the FSU offense it's going to take continued pressure by the defensive line. If the front 4 of the Pack can stop the run and harass Winston into making poor throws NC State could keep the game close or even pull off the upset. However, NC State hasn't been able to consistently do that against anybody on their schedule (Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, South Florida, or Presbyterian) so the likelihood of them being able to do that against FSU is small.

Expect FSU to try and soften up the NC State defense with an early aerial attack and run late. FSU should be able to get up early and rotate in little used players at WR such as freshmen Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane in an attempt to get them up to speed. It's also important for FSU to develop some confidence in it's flagging running game. While there have been reports of FSU trying out Cam Erving at center and adding Chad Maverty to the line, don't expect FSU to come out of the tunnel with that look. However, if FSU can get up big don't be surprised to see them shift towards that look.

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. North Carolina State's Offense

NC State has looked pretty good on offense so far this year and this unit is the major reason why the Wolfpack are 4-0 heading into Saturday's game against the Noles. The biggest reason for the offenses success has to be Jacoby Brissett (1 of at least 3 UF QBs FSU will face this year). Brissett has been pretty effective even with the younger receivers carrying much of the passing load.

Bo Hines has been Brissett's major target averaging around 13 yards/catch while RB Matt Dayes has grabbed the second most passes on the team. Brian Underwood is the key to the passing game though. Even though he doesn't have a ton of catches he's the one NC State looks to when trying to pull the top off of the opposing defense. Brissett's accuracy to all of his targets have been impressive and has been the key to NC State's offense.

FSU will face NC State without two of its starters on the line as Nile Lawrence-Stample is out for the season and Mario Edwards, Jr., will sit out with a concussion. Thankfully FSU has shown better than expected depth along the line but there are no replacements for the two lost players. FSU will probably try to rotate their starting DL pretty consistently to keep everybody fresh and get younger players more experience. Goldman has looked solid in his FSU career but he took it to another level against Clemson. The junior defensive tackle was a wrecking ball last week but can he keep it up?

NC State will run a power-based offense that uses jet sweeps and zone reads to keep defenders off balance. While FSU fell victim to some of those constraint plays against Oklahoma State they cleaned things up nicely against Clemson. I wouldn't be surprised to see NC State break a few big gainers because FSU was out of position but the Noles must limit those as much as possible. The biggest key to that will be safeties Tyler Hunter and Jalen Ramsey.

Goals

  • Less than 4.7 yards/play allowed before garbage time (238 yards on 50 plays, 285 yards on 60 plays, 333 yards on 70 plays).
  • Force 2 turnovers
  • Less than 50-percent touchdowns allowed in the red zone.

Special Teams

Cason Beatty had the best game of his career against Clemson. Was it an aberration or has he finally broken through whatever wall he had? Hopefully FSU fans will never find out but at least there's a glimmer of hope for the much-maligned punter. Roberto Aguayo is still Roberto Aguayo. Sun rises. Sun sets.

NC State doesn't scare you with special teams. They haven't shown a penchant for big plays in the return game and Niklas Sade has had a somewhat rough go of things only making 2 of his 5 FG attempts (to be fair 2 of those attempts were over 50 yards). Senior punter Wil Baumann has shown to have a good leg averaging around 50 yards/punt with a long of 67.

FSU could break this game open with a special teams return. Teams that lack depth, and NC State lacks functional depth due to youth on the team, tend to most manifest this in the special teams aspect of the game.

Prediction

Dave Doren has NC State headed in the right direction but they aren't there yet. The Wolfpack are beating teams they should and that's an important step in fielding a good team. In a year or two, this could be a very good team but right now it's a mix of talent and youth not ready for prime time. It's possible FSU could experience a hang over after the draining Clemson week but it might not matter as the talent differential is too large.

Florida State 42, NC State 13 | Chance of winning: 85%

Bud: Florida State 42, NC State 21 N.C. State's offense is much improved, but its defense is not.

Staff Predictions

PhenomeNole: 41-14. Defense has taken the next step and offense starts humming with an angry Jameis.

TimScribble: A chance for a letdown, but I think Jimbo has 2 years ago still on his mind and has his team ready. The young DL steps up, the OL is solid and FSU wins 35-17

jmnpb996: FSU 41-17. Noles debut new OL and grind out a solid win over Doeren's latest edition of This Offense Is Just Annoying QB Power Over And Over Until You Are On Your Knees

Kyle Griffs: Defense continues to play well, even with the absence of MEJ and NLS, while the offense works out some kinks from last week and benefits from having Jameis back to take advantage of NC State's sub-par pass defense. I'll take FSU to cover the spread, 45-17.

ricobert1: It's weird. At the gut level, I like NCSU over FSU 28-27. But my head is having none of that: FSU 45, NCSU 20.

Fsued: I would be going with a big blowout here, but not having ME and NLS has me a bit concerned with the D. Plus, should be some letdown after an emotional week. Still, I think the offense will have its way. So, going with 48-27.

Andy Wright: FSU 45-17. Jameis comes out and rallies with the offense after the suspension.  Coaches hopefully figure out how to compensate for the OL's weaknesses, but I think we still struggle with the running game.  Rashad and O'Leary and Jameis aren't stopped. Defense is solid with or without NLS and potentially Mario Edwards. Raleigh loses more of its intensity being a 3:30pm game and the game excitement feels flat.

Onebarrelrum: I'm still not sure what to think about Florida State. I do think this is the first game we get to actually get a handle on what this team is capable of. Wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of an emotional hangover, likely more on the defensive side of the ball. How the d-line deals with the loss of NLS will be something to watch closely. Let's hope that whatever the o-line's plan to fix issues is, works. They simply have to get better up front. Jameis is back and will be fired up, but there are enough problems with this team to question the spread. I'll pick FSU 31, NC State 23 (Pack offense isn't bad).

Matt Minnick: NCSU is better than last season, especially at QB, and Raleigh is an underrated venue in terms of noise and hostility. Add in an emotional let down and I see a game closer than some may want. Pack covers but Noles win, which in the end is all that really matters at this point (along with staying healthy). FSU 40     NCSU 24

Adam Brown:

Dustin Tackett: Without Nile Lawrence-Stample, and possibly/likely Mario Edwards Jr., it'll be interesting to see how the defensive line responds, and I think they'll do just fine. Winston being back provides relief and a boost to the offense that will finally solidify a run game up front behind what should be a revamped offensive line. I'll go with the narrative that the Clemson win did something positive for this team, and if the defense bothers Jacoby Brissett, the Noles run away with it, 48-13.

NoleThruandThru: I think the offense looks more improved and I hope we get to see more of Ryan Green this week. OL tweaks will lead to a few silly sacks/pressures but hopefully nothing at crucial times. Jacoby Brissett will have some success but I see some turnovers from him. FSU 44 NC State 26

nolesblogger: 38-21. I'm just happy to be talking about actual football.

FrankDNole: The Noles will score 4 offensive TD's and the D will get one also via a pick 6, and one of our RB's (prolly Pender if healthy) will gain over 100 of the over 200 team rushing yards. Fisher is going to make it a point to finally get the rushing game going, which will be opened up by quick short passes. NOL will also have his best game of the season so far and Winston will have a good night despite having just slightly above numbers. Roberto will make 2 of his 3 FG attempts and Beatty will show last weeks performance was no fluke with another night of solid punting. Even without Edwards and NLS, the defense will force Chip Baker to spend Sunday morning in his garage pounding a spike into, and Sharpieing the final score onto, a brand new Baseball which will then be presented to Charles Kelly on Monday morning. FSU 41 - NCST 0

Michael Rogner: Jameis will display his lack of character by selfishly running for a key 1st down on the opening TD drive. Then he'll be a major distraction by standing on the sideline in broad daylight while NCSU has the ball, forcing ABC's broadcast to cut to him after every play. Finally, he'll cause the media lynch mob to rub one out by pointing to the sky after every touchdown pass because Jameis, like most thugs, thinks he is God's favorite. Noles 38-3.

The K-man: Florida State is going to finally put it all together this season. But it won't be until the Autumn weather sets in. Offensive line still has serious kinks to iron out; refs and fans unable to tell which players committing penalties/missed assignments due to bright gold lettering in the brilliant Carolina sunshine. Christian Green catches his first TD as a Seminole, but play is negated because lightning struck 7.6 miles from Carter-Finley mid-play. Costs us the cover. Champs 34, Pack 20