This Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the ACC Network, Florida State will be in Raleigh to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
North Carolina State is 4-3 on this season with wins against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Duke. The three losses have come against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Miami.
FSU played NC State last season in Tallahassee. FSU won the game 31-13 with quarterback Alex Hornibrook at the helm. FSU is 26-13 versus the Wolfpack all-time.
Observations from the last game
The players showed plenty of effort throughout the game, but without enough scholarship players that are healthy it will still be hard to be successful. Transfers, injures and roster mismanagement since the 2016 Orange Bowl have been major factors in why FSU is where it is today. The only position on the entire team that hasn’t been crushed by injury is running back, but all three of those guys have only been in the program for one season. Marvin Wilson, Jordan Travis and Devontay Love-Taylor are three more injuries that we found out about this past week.
Wilson and Love-Taylor’s injuries will keep them out for the rest of the season. Travis is on the depth chart, but I don’t think he will play and the freshman Chubba Purdy will most likely be the starter at quarterback. Hopefully Akeem Dent and Renardo Green will be able to suit up. Tamorrion Terry played hurt and has left the program. Long time starting quarterback James Blackman has entered the transfer portal.
That was all the bad news, but the good news is that defensive lineman Jarrett Jackson received his eligibility waiver and will be able to play.
The defense plays decent until they give up their first touchdown and when adversity hits it takes them awhile to regain their footing.
The offense was playing great until Pittsburgh adjusted and decided to move one of their defensive ends in the middle of the line on passing downs. Once that happened, right guard Baveon Johnson was unable to deal with this speed and gave up multiple quarterback sacks.
Florida State offense versus North Carolina State defense
For as good as the NC State offense is, their defense is just as bad. The Wolfpack are 109th in the FBS in total defense with 472 yards given up per contest. For the past couple years NC State has been slightly better against the run than they are against the pass and that still holds true this year. Of the 4 defenses left on the schedule, this would be the one Florida State wants its freshman quarterback to make his first start against.
Linebacker Payton Wilson has been the best player on the defense so far this season as he leads the team in tackles with 65 and interceptions with two. The defensive line does possess some playmakers, like Daniel Joseph and Terrell Jenkins, who have racked up 4 and 3 ½ sacks respectively.
Without Terry, I expect tight end Camm McDonald to be the main target for Travis or Purdy. They also might add the wrinkle of having all three backs on the field at the same time with Lawrence Toafili in the slot.
Florida State defense versus North Carolina State offense
The North Carolina State offense got off to a hot start until QB Devin Leary suffered a season ending injury. He was replaced by former Seminole Bailey Hockman who struggled his first couple starts, but played well versus Miami last Friday night.
The Wolfpack have a balanced offense as they have run the ball 20 more times than they have thrown it. When they run the ball they like to give it to Ricky Person or Zonovan Knight. They both have 400+ yards rushing, over 10 receptions and at least 3 TDs.
As for the pass catchers, Emeka Emezie is the number one guy with 27 catches and 465 yards receiving. Tight end Cary Angeline is the main target in the red zone with 6 TD catches already. Devin Carter, Thayer Thomas and Porter Rooks are all capable receivers.
FSU will need to add some reinforcements in the secondary if they want to slow down the NC State passing game. Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller is hoping to have three safeties and two cornerbacks back in the lineup this weekend. Once again, Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson still need to get home on some pass rushes to force the Wolfpack into tough down and distances. Some timely blitzes by Amari Gainer could help as well.
North Carolina State’s special teams features the ACC special teams player of the week in Zonovan Knight, who returned a kick off back 100 yards against Miami. The kicker, Christopher Dunn, and the punter, Trenton Gill, have had solid years as well. Meanwhile, FSU is still looking for a reliable kicker and a return man. Alex Mastromammo has continued his steady play.
With all the attrition on the roster I’m not sure how long FSU will be able to keep up. Hopefully we get surprised at the end with the Seminoles hanging in there for a little bit and making it a game late. Unfortunately, I think NC State will pull away in the third quarter.