The 12th ranked Florida State Seminoles (0-1,0-0) open up ACC play on Saturday against North Carolina State (2-1, 0-0) at 12:00 EST.
Florida State has not played a game in two weeks due to Hurricane Irma. In their last game, the Seminoles fell to top ranked Alabama 24-7. However, the biggest loss came at the quarterback position as Florida State lost Deondre Francois for the season due to a knee injury.
North Carolina State, on the other hand, easily handled the FCS level Furman Paladins 49-16 last Saturday. The Wolfpack was led by Jaylen Samuel’s three rushing touchdowns in the victory.
Florida State – North Carolina State Preview
Florida State Wins If…
With Francois out, the responsibility of leading the Seminoles offense rests on the shoulders of true freshman, James Blackman. As a result, the Seminole offensive line will be more important than ever. Florida State’s line held its own for most of the game against Alabama. In order take pressure off Blackman, the Florida State line will have to work vigorously to open up lanes in the running game. A heavy dosage of Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers should take defenders out of coverage and lead to more open receivers for Blackman to throw to.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles have to get off the field on third down. The notion that the Florida State offense will be able to outscore opponents fell by the wayside when Francois went down. The Seminoles defense should expect to be on the field more often than usual as its offense adjusts to a new signal caller. Therefore, any break that the Seminole defense can give itself by getting three and outs or causing turnovers will keep it from being worn down late in the game by the Wolfpack Offense.
North Carolina State Wins If…
The Wolfpack offense needs to systematically wear down the Seminole defense. If the Wolfpack offense can dictate the tempo of the game and consistently sustain drives of 12 plays or longer it will be able to exhaust a Florida State defense that will not get a lot of help from its offense. By winning the possession battle, North Carolina State will set itself up for a big play late that could seal the game.
On defense, now is the time for the Wolfpack to get as creative as possible. With the Seminoles breaking in a new quarterback, throwing looks and packages that Blackman has not seen on film is a recipe for success. Taking away Blackman’s first read in the passing game could also lead to the freshman panicking. That panic could lead to sacks and turnovers for the Wolfpack defense without having to send extra pass rushers.
North Carolina State last beat Florida State in 2012. The Wolfpack has given the Seminoles scares since then getting to first half leads before collapsing after halftime. North Carolina State has the advantage of facing a true freshman in his first start at quarterback. However, the extra week and a half of preparation the Seminoles received due to Irma should calm some of Blackman’s nerves. That being said, still expect a close and somewhat sloppy game.
NC State 10, FSU-16