Good Friday fellow Wolfpackers! Tomorrow is game day and wouldn’t you know it, the #1 Florida State Seminoles are coming to Raleigh and the “House of Horror” that is Carter-Finley Stadium. Before we get into looking at the Noles and the match-ups between them and the Pack, make sure you take a look at what the last 10 years have provided when these two schools have clashed on the gridiron.
Who: #1 Florida State Seminoles at NC State Wolfpack
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium (Raleigh, NC)
When: 3:30 pm (ABC)
BackingthePack.com has a good Q&A with TomahawkNation.com to get a little inside look at the Seminoles:
1. Florida State lost quite a bit of talent off its title team, and while I know the Noles also had a lot of talent with which to plug those holes, have there been some disappointments? Any players or position groups who have underwhelmed so far?
I think that a lot of the disappointments for most of the fanbase stems from a comparison of this year’s team to last year’s. FSU fans are increasingly beginning to realize that such a comparison is just unwise. The 2013 ‘Noles were a historically great team, and to expect everything to break perfectly for this year’s squad in matching the quality of that team was always going to invite disappointment.
That said, there are weaker areas on this year’s team that haven’t featured the emergence of some players that fans had hoped for. The ‘Noles lost two of their top three receivers last season, and we had hoped for the young talent to emerge and provide options for Winston in the passing game. Bobo Wilson has been a solid option in his first two games this season after being suspended for the opener, but senior Christian Green has continued to disappoint, and neither of the blue-chip freshmen (Lane and Rudolph) have made an instant impact. The offensive line play so far has been a concern. The unit returned four of five starters a year ago, but left tackle Cam Erving has not played well this season and center Austin Barron has disappointed as well. We think that some shifts in offensive line personnel may take place as early as Saturday.
On defense, the secondary has been the main disappointment thus far, but from an objective perspective, it shouldn’t have be a disappointment because it shouldn’t have been unexpected. Losing Lamarcus Joyner and Terrance Brooks is huge, even when you replace them with four and five-star talent. Jalen Ramsey played an excellent game at the star position last week, but Tyler Hunter continued to be up and down at safety. Cason Beatty has continued to disappoint at punter, although I will say he played his best game at FSU last week. This sounds like doom and gloom, but the standard set by last year’s team tends to color any evaluation of this year’s squad, even though it shouldn’t.
3. Has the departure of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt during the offseason had noticeable effects on the defense, for better or worse?
Jimbo Fisher and new coordinator Charles Kelly went to great lengths to point out that the ‘Noles would change nothing on defense following Pruitt’s departure. Kelly was the linebackers coach last season, and the scheme has certainly been very close to what Pruitt ran a year ago. ……. The injury to Lawrence-Stample is huge, and Kelly will have to earn his promotion in figuring out how to deal with it. Nose tackle was really the one position on this team entering 2014 that could not afford to suffer a major loss. While the defensive line development has been better than we expected when the season began, there are major concerns about how the interior defensive line will hold up through the rest of the season and particularly in key, late-season matchups.
4. Is there anything that concerns you guys about the matchup with NC State?
…… There are questions on both lines of scrimmage for the ‘Noles, with new combinations on the o-line and the need to fill the massive (quite literally) void left by Lawrence-Stample on defense.
Let’s take a look at the ‘Noles defense first:
First off, as pointed out by Tomahawk Nation, the Noles have lost a key player on their DL, Lawrence-Stample (#99 NG R-JR 314lbs) that will hopefully open up some running room in the middle. So what have the Noles been doing on Defense?
Whether it’s The Citadel focusing on running the ball or Clemson being more effective passing or Okie State with a balanced attack, FSU has been holding opponents to 300-400 yds/game. NC State’s Offense will be tested to see just how far along they have come since last year. While a lot of Pack players have experienced playing against bigger, faster players, this will be the first time in 2014 they will have experienced it with this squad. I expect another slow start from the State offense but this time due to the increase in talent level of the opposition’s defense. One thing of note to give us Pack fans some hope while on offense: FSU’s defense has a Third Down Conversion Percentage of 49% (24/49). That’s a lot of chances to keep drives going to score. If the Pack can establish a running game and continue their balanced attack, State may be able to keep it interesting.
#24 R-JR LB (WILL) Terrance Smith – The leading tackler on the team with 30 for the season, averaging 10.0 tackles/game and has 2.0 Tackles For Loss (TFL).
#8 SO DB (Free Safety) Jalen Ramsey – Second on the team in tackles, 27 total, 9.0/game, and 2.5 TFL.
#5 JR LB (MIKE) Reggie Northrup – Third on the team in tackles, 25 total, 8.3/game, and 1.0 TFL.
Over to the Noles Offense:
About the only thing consistent with FSU’s offense this season is they haven’t been “The Greatest Show On Earth” like they were last year. That’s going to happen when you lose as much talent as TomahawkNation.com pointed out. You add in Mr. Heisman’s off the field antics and you’re going to have some problems in the beginning.
FSU is relying heavily on the pass with Winston but still has enough balance on offense with their Rushing to keep defenses honest. So who should State be worried about the most?
#80 SR WR Rashad Greene – Without a doubt the most dangerous man on the field. Greene has 24 receptions this season for 418 yards and 2 TD’s. That is 139.3 yards/game and 17.4 yards/catch. He is THE target for the Noles offense.
#9 SR RB Karlos Williams – Williams is one of several in the running back by committee going on in Tallahassee this season but so far he’s the leader. Williams is averaging 59.0 yards/game at 4.2 yards/carry. He’s not one dimensional either; they like to throw to him too. Williams also has 8 receptions for 78 yards, 26 yards/game and 9.8 yards/catch.
#35 SR TE Nick O’Leary – Leary is a nice safety valve across the middle for keeping the chains moving. He has 14 receptions for 156 yards, 52.0/game and 11.1 yards/catch.
#3 SO WR Jesus “Bobo” Wilson – Wilson wins the award for the all name team. Bobo was suspended for the opener against Okie State but has 7 receptions for 91 yards, 45.5 yards/game and 13.0 yards/catch in the last 2 games.
The gulf in talent level is huge, like the gulf between NCSU & Presbyterian, but that hasn’t stopped the Pack from beating FSU in Carter-Finley before. There are those that will continue to disagree with me but I think the biggest problems NC State has is its Defense and the inability by the front six to put pressure on the QB (hanging an average secondary out to dry) AND stopping teams on third down (allowing opponents to continue a drive until they score). These 2 problems will allow FSU to change this from a potentially close game to a 3 TD victory. FSU 38-17.