It’s time for the Florida State football program to answer some questions. Just what can we expect from new QB James Blackman moving forward? Is this defense elite or a liability? And will the real special teams please stand up? Before we get answers to those questions, though, we answered some of our own— primarily, how will Saturday’s game against Wake Forest play out? Here are our picks.
For the first time in forever, Florida State is 0-2 to begin the season. Both losses are somewhat understandable. FSU lost to Alabama to begin the season, as expected, and then lost to NC State after a three-week hiatus with a true freshman quarterback.
However, now it’s crunch time. With nine games left, the team needs six wins to become bowl eligible, and anything beyond that is gravy. I think the ’Noles clinch the first win of the season against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 4-0 to begin 2017, but have played 2-2 Presbyterian, 1-3 Boston College, 2-2 Utah State, and 2-2 App State. Not exactly the murderers’ row that FSU has endured.
I think Blackman continues on his success against NC State in this matchup. The status of Auden Tate is up in the air, but the Seminoles have enough talent at receiver to take advantage of Wake Forest’s secondary. I think this is also the game where we begin to see the run game take over, with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick both having impressive performances.
Defensively, this is a chance to rebound and regain some confidence. Ryan Finley, Jaylen Samuels, and NC State’s offense ran circles around FSU’s defense. Wake Forest will not be able to execute that well, which will give the Seminoles plenty of opportunities to create some turnovers and get stops. Look for Derwin James or Tarvarus McFadden to nab the first interception of the season (if it’s not called back by a questionable defensive pass interference).
Get in, get the win, and leave healthy before a huge matchup with Miami next week.
FSU 27, Wake Forest 10
Expecting a lot of Patrick and Akers and hopefully more Rasul. TEs get more attention if Tate is out. Defense wakes up, especially the pass rush, and Burns and Sweat get two sacks apiece. Just hoping that FSU stays healthy this week and gets a W, no matter how ugly.
FSU 31, Wake Forest 17
I still think highly of the talent on this team (as does Vegas) but it just doesn’t execute the simple things consistently enough for me to predict it to come out and dominate a team like Wake like it’s supposed to. I expect a lot of Akers and Patrick (60-40 between the two of them) as this is the kind of game in which you can break your super talented yet young RB in.
It’s likely that James Blackman struggles this week on the road vs. one of the more sound defenses in the country that wants to keep everything in front of itself. Mike Elko has moved on to Notre Dame, but Wake should still be very good (relative to its talent level) on defense.
I don’t have much to say about the defense this week. It needs to bounce back and play to its talent level, but I’m not expecting it. The only consistent thing about defense under Charles Kelly is inconsistency.
FSU 27, WF 14
It's Wake Forest, so I'd hope we can finally pick up our first win of the season. I feel Cam Akers finally breaks off a Cook-style run for TD, while Blackman continues his growth with two passing TDs. Really hoping to see the defense pick up where it left off in the Bama game, with fewer mistakes and mistackles. Need to use this as a warm up for Miami, fix what we can, and hope for the best!
FSU 27 - 7 Wake
I look for this game to be similar to two years ago (FSU 23, Wake 16). A conservative Florida State offense will hold off a late charge from the Deacons. Wake Forest senior tight end, Cam Serigne, will have another career day against FSU, as he did two years ago. I hope I am wrong. I hope the Seminoles blow them out. I hope the defense shuts them down. But hope will probably be ejected in the first half for targeting.
FSU 27, Wake 24
Welcome to 2017, where 0-2 FSU travels to 4-0 Wake Forest. I really am not confident in any prediction for this game only because I have no idea if the ’Noles will show up and play well or have the wheels come off. Against ’Bama, the defense looked elite, the offense looked pedestrian, and the special teams was a dumpster fire. Last weekend, the special teams was fine, the offense looked pedestrian, and the defense was a dumpster fire. Will the defense show up to stop Wake’s zone-read offense? Will the offense be able to score more than one TD, likely without WR Auden Tate, who has produced both of FSU’s offensive scores? Will the coaching staff bring a better game plan to Winston-Salem? Will playing a second straight game — and avoiding a 3-week layoff — help this team focus and be in better condition? I honestly have no idea. I’d like to think that FSU can easy beat Wake Forest, but I said that last week, too. God help us all if the ’Noles start 0-3 heading into the Miami game.
Florida State 24, Wake Forest 20
Coming into the year, this Wake Forest game was highlighted as a minor reprieve, albeit in an away game, after FSU’s tough opening season schedule.
Now, the importance of Saturday’s game for a wide variety of reasons cannot be overstated.
The Demon Deacons have exceeded expectations early this season, jumping out to a 4-0 mark. That being said, FSU is far and away more talented than any other team they have matched up against so far.
I expect an FSU victory Saturday, but there are a few contingencies attached. First off, Blackman must avoid the dreaded “true freshman showing his inexperience” performance. Last week’s loss showed that FSU’s defense is not nearly as special as we thought after the Bama game, so a breakout performance from them, perhaps even their first forced turnover of the season, would go a long way.
In the end, I think FSU is just a bit too much for Wake and finally notches its first win of the season behind Akers and Keith Gavin’s first career touchdowns.
FSU - 27
Wake - 20
Here we are, heading into FSU’s first true road game of the season at 0-2. The ’Noles have struggled at Wake in recent years, going 3-2 over its last five meetings in Winston-Salem.
Wake Forest has an impressive defense that will ultimately be the factor in its win over Florida State on Saturday. No, you didn’t read that wrong.
The Florida State offense is still struggling to get going, and if receiver Auden Tate isn’t able to play on Saturday (I’m writing this prediction under the assumption he’ll be out), it will present even more challenges for a young true freshman QB James Blackman in his first collegiate road start.
We saw vs. NC State that FSU receivers, with the exception of Tate, struggled to gain any yardage after the catch. Blackman needs to take advantage and use tight ends Ryan Izzo and Mavin Saunders in the passing game more. Florida State still has Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers in the backfield, but the duo can only carry the Seminoles offense so far.
On defense, the FSU secondary showed that, once again, it is susceptible to the big plays that will allow Wake Forest to score not often, but efficiently. There are gaps in the secondary that have yet to be fixed and the Demon Deacons will continue to expose it. If the Seminoles are able to fix that problem, they have a good shot of winning the ballgame, however I don’t predict that happens.
Wake Forest’s offense not only has a ton of experience, but against Florida State as well. Besides the offensive line that has a plethora of experience vs. FSU, its QB, John Wolford, has played the ’Noles three times prior, albeit he only threw one pass in one of those meetings. He’s also on fire this season with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio through four games and a 106.5 QB rating. Cade Carney, Wake Forest RB, also played in last year’s meeting, although with limited success.
It’s a perfect storm with this Wake Forest team playing at home and the low morale of an 0-2 Florida State. Wake Forest wins it.
Wake Forest: 20
Florida State: 17
I haven’t predicted a game in a while. So, I’ll just let the disappointment become one with me. Wake celebrates like it’s 2006. Deacs rip off unis to show off CONQUERED shirts postgame as an apathetic FSU squad heads to the locker room. Score 30-0. JUST KIDDING. FSU plays a sloppy, undisciplined, and uninspired game and wins anyway on something silly like a blocked PAT.
Florida State 24 (2 safeties, 4 FGs, 1 TD, 1 2 point conversion.).
Wake Forest 23
I don’t even know what to expect anymore. I’ve watched this Florida State team play two games, and after those two, haven’t really come to any concrete conclusions.
The special teams looked like garbage against Alabama, then outside of kickoffs had an honestly decent showing against NC State. The defense looked like a shutdown squad, and then it allowed NC State to dictate the entire game. James Blackman looks like a plus but an injured Auden Tate leaves a bunch of questions about the offense’s ability to find consistent success.
I’m still not completely sold on the idea of this being a lost season. NC State is an actual good football team, and if a few small plays change last Saturday, FSU is 1-1 heading into the weekend. Obviously, though, a few small plays could change any game, and there’s been nothing that indicates you can place your absolute faith in this Seminole squad.
The idea of losing three straight to start the season is pretty incomprehensible to me, but I’ve been wrong a hilarious amount of times. I’m going Florida State in a pretty-close-but-not really game, and hoping to maybe get a little bit of hope back in its ability to be a top 25 team.
Florida State 27, Wake Forest 13
After the first quarter, I’m expecting the rout to be on and FSU to roll.
The FSU defense will shut down Wake’s dink and doink offense as the game progresses, while the offense rolls behind the running of Patrick and Akers. Blackman will continue to surprise with his downfield accuracy on a couple of deep dimes, but I’m expecting a mostly short passing game from him that will get our players in space where the YAC’s will be there for the taking. I’m also hoping to see the TE’s get more involved, as well as some of those mysterious screen plays that I’ve seen other teams use.
Florida State 34, Wake Forest 17
Nope. I’m not doing it. You fools might, but I’m not predicting a close game versus Wake. Our guys are much bigger, faster, and way more talented, and our coach gets 100K a week to get these boys ready. I have full faith that this staff can turn that into back-to-back-to-back top 4 finishes in the Division. The train to bowl eligibility leaves the station on Saturday, so get on board. #ChooChoo #9MoreYears #FireHam
This might be the toughest prediction I’ve made in my four years on staff. To be honest, I can articulate more reasons for an FSU loss than I can for a win. Jimbo’s offense historically struggles with consistency in Winston-Salem. Wake has a mature and disciplined defense that won’t beat itself. Our QB is making his first ever road start. The Seminole defense appears not to give 100% effort or focus against less heralded teams. The special teams play can be prone to major mistakes. FSU’s best receiver might not play, and even if he does, he certainly won’t be fully healthy. Jacob Pugh is out for the first half, leaving us dangerously thin at linebacker. The list goes on and on.
But...I just have a hard time seeing FSU fall to 0-3. Perhaps because FSU has never been 0-3 in my lifetime? Will this team, with all of its talent, really be the first 0-3 Seminole bunch in over four decades? I just can’t predict that.
I expect an ugly game. I expect a slow start by the ’Noles. I expect to trail at halftime. But somehow, some way, FSU finds a way to save its season. After Wake won last week on a last second blocked field goal, this week it’s the Seminoles who win it with a stand on the game’s final play.
FSU 19, Wake Forest 16
I hate this game. And I don’t just mean this year, as Florida State is off to a winless start and unranked for the first time in 89 weeks. I hate FSU’s matchup with Wake Forest every year— especially when it’s in Winston-Salem. The weather always seems to suck, at least one Seminole typically gets hurt, and an underwhelming ’Nole performance in front of a listless crowd often results in a low-scoring game that’s way closer than it should be. Wake is never really good enough to hate, but they just annoy me and looking ahead to this game just puts me in a foul mood. No, you shut up. See?
I’m torn on if this will be a bounce-back or a look-ahead game for FSU, but as of right now, this team doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. That could all change. But it won’t. This game still sucks, but FSU wins, I guess.
Seminoles 24, Deacs 17
As always, check out the Nolescast to get the predictions of our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith.