FSU-Wake Forest Preview

FSU-Wake Forest Preview

Saturday at 7:30 PM on ACC Network the Seminoles will be in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest is 5-1 on the season with their five wins coming against Utah State, Rice, North Carolina, Elon and Boston College. Their lone loss came against Louisville last weekend.

The last time these teams squared off was in 2018 in Tallahassee. Florida State won the game 38-17. The last time Wake Forest beat FSU was in 2011.

Observations from the last game

After going three games without a turnover FSU turned it over four times versus Clemson. Yes, Clemson is the best team the Seminoles will face this year, but two of the turnovers were self-inflicted. With the Seminoles already trailing 14-0, Hornibrook threw an interception, that if on target, would have been a big gain. James Blackman played equally as bad so the quarterback situation continues to be in flux.

The Seminoles also had seven penalties and nine 3-and-outs, which is not going to get it done against a bad team, much less against a top five team on the road.

‘Nole notes

Wide receiver Keyshawn Helton will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a leg injury in the second quarter.

Ricky Agauyo handled the place kicking duties after being benched against NC State.

Offensive lineman Cole Minshew and Jauan Williams played a few snaps after coming back from injuries.

Florida State defense versus Wake Forest offense

Wake Forest averages the most plays per game in the FBS at 86. With the high number of plays, the stats on offense are somewhat inflated. The Demon Deacons are 14th in points per game at 38, but they drop down to 37th in yards per play at 6. Boise State, Louisville and Clemson are FSU opponents that average more yards per play than Wake Forest.

Starting quarterback Jamie Newman is having a terrific season with 1,772 yards and 17 touchdowns, but injured his shoulder against Louisville and his availability for Saturday is up in the air. After taking a few series, Sam Hartman found his rhythm helping the Deacons score on their final 3 possessions.

Wake Forest has 3 players with over 275 rushing yards: Newman, Cade Carney, Kenneth Walker and Christian Beal-Smith. The running backs are not big threats in the passing game, but they are not really needed when due to two very talented receivers on the outside.

Sage Surratt leads the team in catches (46), receiving yards (711) and receiving TDs (9). Scotty Washington is the red zone target with 7 TDs. Converted QB Kendall Hinton has filled in nicely in the slot with 30 receptions as well.

Florida State will once again go up against an experienced offensive line as the Demon Deacons have 3 seniors and two redshirt sophomores in the starting line up. Backup defensive tackles Tru Thompson and Cedric Wood, as well as middle linebackers Dontavious Jackson, Leonard Warner and Emmitt Rice will need to shake off the Clemson game off and play much better. These players are key to the game plan because of Wake’s commitment to the running game. If the Deacs are able to establish the run it could be another long day for the FSU defense.

Florida State offense versus Wake Forest defense

For as good as Wake Forest is on offense, they are almost equally as bad on defense. Wake is giving up slightly less yards per game on the ground and through the air as Florida State. But since the Deacons run more plays on offense, the opposing offense runs less plays.

Wake Forest is 97th in the FBS in yards per game, giving up at 6.1. They do give up big chunk plays, but if Wake is able to get their opponents into third and long situations they know how to get to the quarterback. The best on the team getting to the signal caller is Carlos Basham, who has 4.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss this season. Linebacker Justin Strnad does everything else for his team’s defense. He leads the team in tackles with 62 and is 29 tackles clear of the next man, Greer. Strnad also has two sacks, four pass breakups and an interception.

Senior cornerbacks Amari Henderson and Essang Bassey are reliable players but they do not have the strength and athleticism to deal with Tamarrion Terry alone. The rest of the defense is littered with freshmen and sophomores, so look for Kendall Briles to create one-on-one matchups with the younger Wake defenders. Due to Alex Hornibrook’s ability to lead longer and more consistent drives, I think it would be beneficial for him to take more snaps under center than James Blackman in this game.

Special teams

The Demon Deacons have a great kicker in Nick Sciba and a reliable punter, Dom Maggio. Sciba has made his last 18 field goals and is 26/29 in his career. The kicking game has been an advantage against most teams for Wake, but their kick coverage has been very shaky. Last weekend WFU gave up three long returns including one that went for touchdowns. I’m sure coach Taggart will have FSU’s returners, DJ Matthews and Keith Gavin, ready to test the Deacons’ coverage teams. Matthews has yet to make a major impact on special teams, but this weekend might be his best chance to make it happen.


This game will feature a bunch of plays and possessions so I expect this to be a high-scoring game even if the defenses play well. Wake Forest’s more disciplined style of play will put them in more positions to succeed in this game. The Seminoles are 121st in the FBS with 8.5 penalties per game in contrast to the Demon Deacons, who are 6th in the FBS with 3.8. I also think Wake’s motions before the snap and misdirection running plays will be difficult for the FSU linebackers to stop.  Florida State’s offense will get back on track, but I do not think it will be enough.

Florida State 42 Wake Forest 44.

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