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Florida State vs. Wake Forest: Defensive breakdown, analysis

Florida State falls to Wake Forest 35-14.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Florida State at Wake Forest Photo by Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

WINSTON-SALEM: The Florida State Seminoles took to the road today for their first ACC showdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Snuggie Hill. The Seminoles (0-2) looked to bounce back after heartbreaking losses against Notre Dame (41-38) and Jacksonville State (20-17.)

Florida State went into this matchup defensively ranked 86th allowing an average of 390 yards per game while Wake Forest sits as the 45th ranked defense with 304 through the first two weeks of the 2021 college football season.


  • Wake Forest’s first drive starts on the ground and an early interception by defensive back Sidney Williams sets the Noles up mid-field. A fumble by running back Jashaun Corbin gives the ball right back to the Demon Deacons.
  • Big plays start early after the Florida State turnover when defensive back Jarrion Jones lags a few steps behind wide receiver A.T. Perry for a career-high 49-yard touchdown that puts Wake Forest on the board.
  • Defensive back Jammie Robinson strips a completed pass for a fumble recovered by defensive lineman Dennis Briggs Jr. making it the second turnover caused by the Seminoles.
  • Penalties on special teams, missed tackles, and tempo put the FSU defense in a precarious situation facing the Deacons at 2nd and goal, a hand-off to running back Christian Beal-Smith takes the score to 14-0, Wake Forest.


  • Linebacker Amari Gainer and Defensive lineman Dennis Briggs Jr. come with the heat on a sack for a loss of three. Transfer Kier Thomas follows with another sack.
  • Penalties— Jarrion Jones with a personal foul sets Wake Forest up to first and goal, touchdown.

Wake Forest 21, Florida State 7.

  • Defensive linemen Derrick McLendon, Jermaine Johnson, and Fabien Lovett create a sack to force three and out with 6:50 left to go in the half.
  • Jarvis Brownlee forces a field goal with a pass break-up in the endzone with 24 seconds left.

The defense has been up and down, ultimately spending too much time on the field. Penalties, missed tackles/assignments have put them in a rut which— paired with an explosive offense put together by Wake Forest has not been favorable.

Half-time stats

  • Leading tackler: Linebacker Amari Gainer with eight, one sack, and two and a half TFL.
  • Interceptions: One by defensive back Sidney Williams and four tackles.
  • Fumbles forced: One by defensive back Jammie Robinson, recovered by defensive lineman Dennis Briggs Jr.
  • Yards allowed: 332 (penalties included)

Florida State 14, Wake Forest 27.


  • Wake Forest keeps the foot on the gas completing a few threaded needles. Nice tackles from linebacker Kalen DeLoach are followed by defensive back Sidney Williams getting ejected for targeting—the penalty puts the Deacons at first and goal.
  • The “bend, don't break” style of defense only works when your offense is firing on all cylinders to keep you in the game. Wake Forest, following their trend of 40+ points per game, goes for two, taking advantage of a worn-out FSU defense.

Florida State 14, Wake Forest 35 with seven minutes left in the third.


  • The run defense seems to have been depleted, the clock continues to run draining the last 10 minutes of the game.
  • The only thing I can take away is that the game had been lost after a fumble in the end-zone that would’ve given Florida State any chance of surviving a road game against a team that was favored. This is a defensive overview but discipline overall needs to be addressed. I saw a team going through the motions, letting Wake Forest run the ball at will and a coordinator calling a game to lose by “not as much.”

End-of-game stats.

  • Yards allowed: 484
  • Leading tackler: Defensive end Jermaine Johnson, 10 with half a sack
  • Total time of possession: Wake 39:00, Florida State 21:00

Wake Forest 35, Florida State 14

Defensive MVP:

Derrick McLendon. McLendon seemed to always be around the ball at the line of scrimmage and added a nice accent to the rest of the defensive line. Jermaine Johnson led the team in tackles but Mclendon and Cooper— along with Lovett and Briggs showed great effort and are pieces to build upon looking forward this season.