Just as they did after an intense rivalry game against Miami earlier in the season, the Florida State Seminoles will look to avoid a letdown in an early home game the following week, this time against NC State at 12:30 on Saturday. The 'Noles (7-2, 5-2 ACC) will look to close out their 2015 conference schedule with a win over the Wolfpack (6-3, 2-3) after being eliminated from contention in the Atlantic division last week.
Offensively, FSU will continue to lean on the nation's most explosive running back, Dalvin Cook.
Cook continued his stellar sophomore campaign last week at Clemson, tearing off 194 yards on 9.24 yards per carry against a defense rated in the top five nationally against the rush in S&P+. A young offensive line has made more than its share of mistakes this season, and combined with ineffective receivers mixed and average play at the quarterback position, it's resulted in lots of missed opportunities for big plays through the air. Cook, however, has been the constant, and he needs just 12 more yards to beat Warrick Dunn's single-season school rushing record despite battling through hamstring and ankle injuries.
NC State brings a quality rush defense to Doak Campbell, ranking in the top 30 nationally in opponent adjusted run defense. While the NC State front could cause problems for the FSU O-line, the same was said before games like Louisville and Clemson, when Cook previously gashed high quality defenses.
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Florida State will switch it up at QB again, as Everett Golson will be back under center after two games as the backup to Sean Maguire. There was talk of a possible injury to Maguire during Thursday evening's practice, but Jimbo Fisher said that Maguire is healthy and Golson simply had a better week. Florida State does not have a track record of producing forthcoming injury reports, and there is no conference penalty for failing to do so. Whatever the case, Golson adds mobility that Maguire lacks, but we will likely see the dialed back playbook that Fisher has featured for Golson this season that features fewer downfield concepts and more short to intermediate throws. Golson has thrown 11 touchdowns this season to just one interception on 8.0 yards per throw.
Defensively, FSU will look to avoid a letdown performance of its own by forcing NC State into passing downs early and often. The Wolfpack currently top the S&P+ rushing ranks offensively, and they are the second-best team in the country on standard downs. When they're forced into passing downs, though, their effectiveness decreases exponentially, as our own ricobert1 noted this week.
Said another way, when NC State offense has leverage, they're super effective. When they get into trouble, they don't get out of it.— ricobert1 (@ricobert1) November 9, 2015
Although the opponent adjusted numbers love the NC State run game, the Pack hasn't run roughshod every week. Louisville limited NCSU to 45 yards on the ground on 1.5 yards per rush. While that game was also influenced by heavy rains. NC State also struggled against a more similarly rated defense to FSU's against Virginia Tech, when the Hokies held the Pack to 3.93 yards per rush. Additionally, NC State will be without its leading rusher Matthew Dayes, who is out for the year after suffering a foot injury during his eight-yard per carry day vs. Clemson.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett a big, mobile passer who proved tough for the 'Noles to bring down last season in FSU's come-from-behind win at Carter-Finley Stadium. Brissett, a Florida transfer, is averaging 7.2 yards per attempt this season with 14 TDs and just two interceptions. His favorite target is tight end Jaylen Samuels, who he's hit 49 times this year (the most receptions of any ACC tight end), including five times for touchdown passes.
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