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Florida State film review: FSU vs. Wake Forest

The first time this season that the Seminoles have blown out an opposing team.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

At first, this had all the signs of a terrible Florida State loss.

Wake Forest out-gained FSU 190-80 in the first quarter in terms of total yards and held a 10-0 lead early in the game. But the Seminoles rebounded as the game went on, using superior athletes to create big plays on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively, the ’Noles began to shut down Wake Forest’s freshman quarterback late in the game. Although Wake Forest was able to create some explosive plays early in the game, FSU made adjustments and dominated for most of the game.

This was a great win for Florida State. Not only did the Seminoles move one step closer to bowl eligibility, but the team finally ran up the score against an inferior opponent. It was a good tone-setter, especially as the behemoth Clemson looms large on the schedule this weekend.

The play: (6:00 - 1st) Sam Hartman pass complete to Jack Freudenthal for 9 yds for a TD

While Florida State eventually ran up the score against Wake Forest, the Seminoles struggled first. The Demon Deacons got out to a 10-0 lead early in the game thanks to this 9-yard strike from Sam Hartman.

Looking to get pressure on the freshman quarterback, FSU brings six rushers on a blitz. On the back end, Florida State plays a zone defense. The thought here is that Wake’s quarterback will need to get the ball out quick if he wants to escape the pressure.

On the offensive side, Wake runs a levels concept in the passing game. This simple concept has the two receiver and tight end on the field side of the formation running in-breaking routes, giving the freshman quarterback an easy throw.

Hartman easily completes a pass to his tight end who, thanks to a missed tackle by running back-turned-linebacker Zaquandre White, strolls into the end zone. Would a better defense stop this play? Perhaps. But these are the kind of plays that FSU is going to give up this year as they work more new players into the defense.

The play: (11:56 - 2nd) Deondre Francois pass complete to Keith Gavin for 49 yds Keith Gavin fumbled, forced by Justin Strnad, recovered by WFrst Demetrius Kemp

Facing a 2nd down and 15, FSU lines up in 11 personnel (1 TE, 3 WR) with Keith Gavin as the lone receiver to the boundary side. Wake is playing off coverage, which shouldn’t be surprising given the down and distance that Florida State faces.

This is a simple curl route for Gavin. Run to the chains and turn around. From there, Gavin’s physical skillset takes over as he breaks a tackle and bursts into the open field. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but it is impressive seeing a 6-3, 217-pound receiver turn on the jets like that.

Unfortunately, a Wake Forest defender tracks him down and knocks the ball out, forcing the ball loose.

There are two things to recognize from this. For one, that is a very impressive play from the defender to recover and knock the ball out like that. Two, Gavin never switches hands with the ball, meaning it is vulnerable on his right side.

You’d like to see Gavin keep better control over the ball, especially as he’s so close to the end zone. But, as always, turnovers are largely controlled by luck. In this one instance, Wake Forest was on the better end of the play.

The play: (11:03 - 2nd) Sam Hartman pass intercepted Stanford Samuels III return for 11 yds to the WFrst 9

Facing a long third down, Wake Forest lines up with trips receivers to the field side. The Seminoles have a normal third down package in with Joshua Kainodh at defensive end and Leonard Warner at linebacker. FSU fakes a blitz up the middle, but the two interior linebackers drop back into coverage.

Hartman wants the far receiver on a curl route. Unfortunately for him, Asante Samuel Jr. is covering the receiver like white on rice and gets a hand on the ball to bat it away. Stanford Samuels is in the perfect position to grab it out of the air and take it back for a short interception return.

This is a very impressive play by Samuel Jr. to recognize the route and make a play on the ball on the air. You don’t often see true freshman cornerbacks make adjustments like that.

Much like the previous play, Florida State got lucky on this turnover. It was a poor decision by the Wake Forest quarterback to attempt this throw, but FSU defenders were in the perfect position to capitalize on the play.

The play: (2:01 - 2nd) Deondre Francois pass complete to Nyqwan Murray for 33 yds for a TD, (Ricky Aguayo KICK)

In a look that you don’t normally see in Willie Taggart’s offense, FSU lines up with two tight ends on the same side of the formation.

Francois fakes the handoff to the running back, complete with the shift of the offensive line that draws the front seven of Wake’s defense away from the quarterback. This is a great play call against the corner blitz that Wake brings as well.

With Wake Forest dropping back into a zone, two defenders shift to cover Keith Gavin in the slot. This leaves Nyqwan Murray open on the go route for an easy touchdown. Confusion in the secondary makes this an easy pitch and catch for Florida State.

We seem to overanalyze the plays where Florida State messes up, but plays like this are a good reminder that every team screws up at some point. This is college football, not professional. These kids are going to make mistakes at some point.

The play: (14:30 - 3rd) Cam Akers run for 58 yds for a TD

Florida State lines up in 11 personnel (1 TE, 3 WR) and brings Murray in motion from the boundary side.

Murray fakes the handoff on the jet sweep, which shifts the defenders on Wake Forest to account for the motion. The cornerback on the boundary side creeps toward the line of scrimmage and the strong safety bites on the fake as well.

When Cam Akers finds the hole in the offensive line, there are no Wake Forest defenders anywhere close to make a tackle. FSU’s offensive line doesn’t open a major hole, but they get enough push to hold off Wake’s rushers. Alec Eberle also gets a nice pickup on the blitzing linebacker. From there, the physical skillset that made Akers a five-star recruit takes over and he runs 58-yards for the score.

This was a well designed play by Florida State and it takes advantage of the superior talent that FSU has on the offensive side of the ball. Murray is too dangerous of a threat to just ignore on the jet sweep, which ultimately costs Wake the opportunity to tackle Akers. Had the Wake defenders ignored Murray on the jet motion, one or two defenders likely would have been in position to make this a minimal gain.