Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Florida State Pounds Wake Forest into Submission

Florida State Pounds Wake Forest

The game was not projected to be close. And it wasn’t. After last week’s win, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson joked that we would be asking how he was going to stop Florida State from scoring 80 points. It turns out the better question would be how can your offense keep you in any game? Florida State pounds Wake Forest into submission 41-16 and the questions about the offense abound.

To be real about this, Florida State is the #4 team in the country. Quarterback Jordan Travis is a legitimate Heisman candidate. Receiver Keon Coleman is one of the best in the country. There are no comparable parts on Wake’s offense. And as well as the Demon Deacons defense has been playing in recent weeks, sooner or later they were bound to break when the lack of offense expects too much from them.

It Started Badly

The pain started early for the locals in Winston-Salem. Florida State engineered a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Travis had a miscommunication with his receiver and threw it directly to Wake defensive back Caelen Carson. But Carson dropped the would-be interception, keeping the Seminoles’ drive alive. On third and 11 from the Wake Forest 14-yard line, the FSU center snapped it before Travis was ready. Still, the quarterback gathered the ball into his gut and took off, scrambling the distance for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead. It was just going to be that kind of day for Wake Forest.

FSU added a 46-yard field goal by Ryan Fitzgerald to put the Seminoles lead at 10-0. Wake got a moment of success with Justice Ellison bolting up the middle for 51 yards to the Florida State 20-yard line at the end of the quarter.

While the score makes it sound close, FSU had 126 yards of offense in the first quarter with Travis going seven of 14 for 79 yards. And Wake Forest? They had 71 yards of offense, with 51 coming on the late Ellison run. Quarterback Mitch Griffis, who got the start after missing last week, was zero for four passing. Wake had exactly ZERO passing yards in the entire first quarter.

After Ellison’s run, Griffis got his first completion of the game early in the second quarter, with a 19-yarder to Taylor Morin to get the Deacs down to the one-yard line. After losing a couple of yards, Wake ran a reverse to the left side with Ke’Shawn Williams who took it in for the score to drop the Wake deficit to 10-7.

That Was The Peak

That momentum lasted exactly 1:18 of game time. FSU’s Deuce Spann returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards. Three plays later Travis connected with Coleman for the 29-yard touchdown play Coleman to go back up by 10 points at 17-7. The game would never be close again.

Griffis took what would be one of many sacks on the day. After the Wake punt, Travis hit Trey Benson with a 10-yard screen pass, and he sprinted the remaining 70 yards untouched. The scoring drive? One play, 80 yards, with 15 seconds run off the clock. It was 24-7. The defense finally got gashed for a back-breaking play after having kept Wake in the game for the last four weeks. It was inevitable when the offense couldn’t maintain consistent drives.

Wake’s answer to that touchdown was another three and out with Griffis holding the ball far too long again. He had all day to throw, no one to throw it to, and he never got the idea to chuck it out of bounds. With the ensuing punt, the boos for Griffis, the offense, and maybe Clawson, were evident.

FSU again made quick work of the process. Jaheim Hill made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch at the Deacs 14-yard line, good for 38 yards. And then Coleman made a highlight-worthy one-handed catch on the left side of the end zone while fending off Carson. The drive went 66 yards in only five plays and took only 1:29 off the game clock. The Seminoles were now up 31-7 and it was time to start the buses before halftime. FSU added a 34-yard field goal by Fitzgerald before the end of the half to make the wound bigger at 34-7.

Lopsided As It Could Get

Florida State had 351 yards of offense to 75 for Wake…and 51 of that was on one play. Griffis was one for eight passing for 19 yards.

While there was an argument to be made to go to Santino Marucci at quarterback, Clawson stayed with the guy he ordained as the starter all the way back in the Spring. Wake took 10 plays to go 72 yards. But another Griffis incompletion truncated the drive. Wake settled for a 24-yard Matthew Dennis field goal to make it 34-10.

Tate Carney added a touchdown run in the third quarter. FSU responded with one of its own on third and 18 in the fourth quarter. It was all semantics by then.

Marucci came in with about 10 minutes left, but it was pointless at that juncture. The best thing that could have happened then was to go to a rec league-style running clock with no stoppages for anything. Griffis’ day ended with a 38% completion rate on six of 16 passing for 82 yards. He was also sacked four times.

His counterpart, Travis, boosted his Heisman credentials by going 22 of 35 for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

The Post Mortem Won’t Be Pretty

This ends Wake’s three-game win streak over Florida State and Clawson was quick and decisive in giving credit to the Seminoles. “That is the most complete football team we have played all season,” he said after the game. “When you lose by 25, that’s not competitive. And when you look at the stats, they may be misleading as to how non-competitive it was.”

He said even with the lack of offensive production at the half, he did not consider a quarterback change for the second half. “Because you say is it stalling because of the quarterback? Or is it stalling because of all the pieces?” He later added, “The checks were the right checks. The ball for the most part was going where it should go. He missed a couple of throws. But when you’re under duress like that, and there’s not a lot separation, that’s going to happen.”

Clawson winced at the suggestion that Griffis was making some of the same mistakes he had been making in terms of managing his time in the pocket. He acknowledged that he may have a different view when he watches the game film. As a result, the move to Marucci late in the game was more of a plan to keep people fresh on a short week.

Wake drops to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in conference play. They play at Duke on Thursday night. Clawson said with the sort week, there will be less emphasis on the film study with the players and will focus on the need to “Emotionally get these guys back and turn the page.”


Florida State Pounds Wake Forest
Photo courtesy: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports



More Posts

Send Us A Message