The recent conversation about Florida State’s receivers has centered largely around sophomore Nyqwan Murray— and for good reason. Noonie went off for his biggest game to date against Clemson last week, registering career highs with six catches, 96 yards, and a score.
But while No. 80 will certainly have NC State’s attentions come tonight’s game against the Wolfpack in Raleigh, history suggests that perhaps a veteran ‘Nole WR should garner some of the Pack’s focus as well. That’s because junior wideout Travis Rudolph has feasted upon inept power-five pass defenses during his FSU career.
It began last year, against Syracuse. Rudolph posted 191 receiving yards and three scores vs. the Orange, and ‘Cuse finished the season ranked 101st against the pass among FBS teams. No. 15 sustained that excellence in 2016, when he went off for a career-high 238 yards against Wake Forest, presently ranked 84th against the pass, the fourth highest total in program history.
I asked Rudolph, after that game, if he ever had a sense that such a big performance was coming. He responded: “Definitely. Sometimes, really, all the time, I feel like I can have those kinds of games. It just depends upon the defense.”
Great segue, Travis. So where does NC State come in, with regard to defending the pass? Just one spot better than the Demon Deacons in 2016, at 83rd among FBS teams. Of course, the latest Nolecast has already noted that the Wolfpack’s imposing front seven has seen most teams opt for the pass over the run on early downs.
So the questions, then, are these: can FSU QB Deondre Francois be more accurate on his short and intermediate throws? And what role will Rudolph play in the offense with the new emergence of Murray, along with that of Auden Tate? We’ll find out tonight; but the recent past bodes well for Rudolph. Be sure to check back with Tomahawk Nation, as I’ll be analyzing the Florida State offense’s performance after the NC State game.