Another year, another win over Miami.
Now that the annual win over the Canes is in the rear-view, the Florida State Seminoles are on to Wake Forest at Doak Campbell Stadium. Coming off a rivalry game means that this is a letdown spot for FSU, but the ’Noles do avoid the dreaded sandwich between Miami and Clemson thanks to their impending bye week.
Wake comes to town sitting at 5-1, with its most impressive win coming at Indiana. Otherwise the Demon Deacons have claimed wins over Tulane, Duke, Delaware, and Syracuse, and come in at a tremendous talent disadvantage – Wake ranks 62nd in the country in five-year recruiting average, looking up at an FSU squad in the top three.
While the FSU defense turned it its best performance of the season against Miami, the offense had a disappointing game with only 5.4 yards per play and 20 points scored.
FSU should be able to stay ahead of the sticks against a Wake defense that is not good on standard downs while continuing to hit some explosive plays. Deondre Francois has played well for a redshirt freshman and has earned a reputation for his toughness, although some of that is due to taking big hits after holding the ball too long. It would be nice to see Francois avoid big, unnecessary hits for this week at least before getting healthy over the bye. Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield will have opportunities against a middling pass defense, while DF could further develop chemistry with Mavin Saunders and Auden Tate.
Dalvin Cook has bounced back from a rusty start to 2016 to lead all Power 5 players in all-purpose yardage, trailing only one player for the national lead. Cook is edging out Stanford’s all-purpose hound Christian McCaffrey – without handling a single punt or kick return – and has helped earn himself some money this season by displaying his ability as a pass catcher (345 yards and a TD on 17.25 ypc). After knocking what was a top-17 opponent-adjusted Miami run defense down a few pegs last week, Cook should eat against Wake, which ranks 51st in that category.
The re-energized FSU defense will have its day of reckoning on Oct. 29 against Clemson, but the ’Noles are coming off a strong performance in limiting Miami to 4.6 yards per play. FSU almost certainly befitted from an injury to Brad Kaaya, but a vicious sack by Jacob Pugh on the opening play from scrimmage also almost certainly contributed to that injury.
The type of coverages FSU played vs. Miami’s pro-style offense won’t translate against spread-type attacks, but the effort and want-to displayed by FSU defensively will, and that was worlds better than we’d seen before. We’ll need to see them maintain that intensity against a non-rival opponent in a letdown situation.
Wake Forest could be without its biggest mobile QB threat, Kendall Hinton, due to injury. The sophomore hasn’t played since a Sept. 17 win against Delaware, but ran for 5 yards per carry and 2 TDs in the first three games of the year. In his stead, John Walford has gone for 5.2 yards per run for 2 TDs of his own and Wake has gone 2-1.
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