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Game Preview: No. 2 FSU vs. Wake Forest

Nov. 8, 2013

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INDIVIDUAL STATS COMPARISON

No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (8-0, 6-0 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Jameis Winston 69.9 311.0 23 4
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Devonta Freeman 110 639 79.9 8
Karlos Williams 49 395 49.4 7
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Rashad Greene 45 773 96.6 8
Kenny Shaw 34 618 77.2 3
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Telvin Smith 53 1.0 6.0 1
Lamarcus Joyner 43 3.0 4.5 1
 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-4 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Jim Grobe
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Tanner Price 56.2 216.8 12 5
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
J Harris 84 302 33.6 4
Tanner Price 93 148 16.4 3
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Michael Campanaro 67 803 100.4 6
J Williams 15 212 26.5 0
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Denzel Perryman 52 0.0 1.5 0
Jimmy Gaines 42 0.0 1.0 0

#FSUvsWAKE infographic

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Brandon Mellor Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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Key players: Offense

Florida State

52 Bryan Stork

His opponent may be shorter but Stork has a tall task Saturday matching up against Wake Forest star noseguard Nikita Whitlock.

As mentioned below, Whitlock is the Demon Deacons' key defensive player because of his ability to eat blocks and wreak havoc in opposing backfields despite his diminutive stature.

For Stork, keeping Whitlock away from 'Noles quarterback Jameis Winston and away from the tailbacks in the run game will be critical. Stork comes into the BB&T Field showdown with 35 starts to his credit and a team-high 17 knockdown blocks this season.

A Rimington Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award candidate, Stork is one of the top centers in teh entire country and will be counted on to lplay like one when the Seminoles and Demon Deacons square off at noon.

"He's just a great person and a great center," FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said. "The center-quarterback relationship has to be great and I love my center."

 
Wake Forest

10 Tanner Price

This spot would have been reserved for Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro but the Demon Deacons' best player was injured in the team's loss to Syracuse last weekend.

Before going down with a brokn collerbone against the Orange, Campanaro had caught 67 passes this season for 803 yards and six touchdowns. He was also the team's punt returner.

To put Campanaro's numbers into perspective, the 15 other Wake Forest players that have registered at least one catch this year have combined for 117 total receptions.

Long story short? Campanaro caught 37 percent of his team's passes so Price is going to have to find a new security blanket and get better at spreading the football around.

Against perhaps the nation's best secondary, Price will have his hands full Saturday.

Key players: Defense

Florida State

24 Terrance Smith

The move of Christian Jones to the strongside linebacker/pass rusher position in Jeremy Pruitt's defense has been a good one -- and not just for Jones.

While Jones is thriving in a role that has him making plays in the backfield, his move has allowed Smith to enter the starting lineup at linebacker alongside Telvin Smith.

The redshirt sophomore has made the most of the opportunity.

Terrance Smith comes into Saturday's game after leading the entire team in tackles with 10 in the win over Miami. He had 14 combined total tackles before entering the starting lineup for good against Maryland and since then has racked up 24 tackles in just four combined games.

A Telvin Smith clone, Terrance Smith is fast, instinctive and has a nose for the football. With the two Smiths together at linebacker, FSU boasts impressive sideline-to-sideline athleticism that causes issues for opposing offenses in both the pass and run games.

 
Wake Forest

50 Nikita Whitlock

Whitlock has consistently been one of the better interior defensive linemen in the AC during his career and this season is no different.

The senior enters Saturday's game with a team-high 14 tackles for loss with seven sacks and 60 total tackles -- all impressive numbers for a block-eating noseguard.

At just 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, Whitlock is undersized for his position but that hasn't stopped him from being dominant. His impressive strength, athleticism and motor make him a challenge for even the biggest and best offensive guards and centers.

"He's is just a football-playing son-of-a-gun," Fisher said. "He's a little short, but he's powerful, athletic, can run, disruptive. In the seams, can pass rush, can play the run. They're doing a good job on defense. They've only give up 19 points a game. They're the number one red zone defense in the league. (They) create sacks, create different plays in the secondary and they do a very nice job."

Four Downs: Key questions for FSU vs. Wake Forest

1. Can the 'Noles exorcise their Winston-Salem demons?

The 'Noles are have lost four the last seven to Wake Forest.

As crazy as it may sound considering that Florida State is 24-6-1 all time against Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons have won four of the last seven meetings in this series that dates back to 1956.

Included in those four victories are triumphs by Wake Forest in two of FSU's last three trips to BB&T Field. Needless to say, the Seminoles -- despite being No. 2 in the nation and in the hunt for a national championship -- are well aware that taking Wake Forest lightly will derail their season.

"That's the biggest thing, just remember what it felt like; remember that we came from this and learned from this," Telvin Smith said. "Don't repeat that. We learned from our history. That's what I feel this team has done the best job of, is learning and moving on."

 

2. Will FSU get caught up in the national-championship chatter?

FSU

The eyes of college football were on Palo Alto, Calif. Thursday night when No. 5 Stanford upset No. 3 Oregon. Despite taking place clear across the country, the Cardinal's victory over the Ducks had a direct connection to the 'Noles, who are now clearly in the driver's seat on the quest to a potential national championship berth.

The Seminoles are now in position to win the remainder of their games and punch their ticket to Pasadena.

Despite the increased implications of each contest, though, FSU's players are continuing to focus one game at a time.

"We not even worried about that," Telvin Smith said. "We taking it one game at a time and trying to be as consistent as possible and going out to practice making sure that happens."

A win Saturday afternoon would lock up the Atlantic Division title for the 'Noles in the ACC, meaning FSU would five more games before reaching the title contest.

3. Will the 'Noles have the same success following an emotional win?

Winston and the 'Noles are focused on moving past the Miami win.

FSU has already shown an ability this season to find victory against a team that had recently caused them heartberak when they blasted NC State last month.

Like that game against the Wolfpack, Florida State is coming off a top-10 win over a rival (the Seminoles beat NC State a week after beating Clemson). To keep their national championship chances alive, the 'Noles will need the same outcome this Saturday.

In order to do that, the Seminoles have to move past the triumph over the Hurricanes -- a contest that was viewed by the college football world and a school-record 84,409 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium -- and be focused on beating Wake Forest in a small stadium without much fanfare.

"Our mindset is the same every week," Winston said. "We're going to prepare the same. We're going to practice the same and hopefully be better as the week goes on. It's just going to be the same week for us."

4. Will the Seminoles continue to take the football away in pairs?

Ronald Darby has been part of the takeover party in recent weeks.

Florida State has been extremely opportunistic on defense of late, displaying a sustained ability to cause turnovers.

Not only have the Seminoles been taking the football away from opponents consistently, they've been doing it more than once per game.

Consider this: In each of the last three games -- wins over Clemson, NC State and Miami -- Florida State defenders have registered at least two turnovers. Against the Tigers, it was Lamarcus Joyner and Ronald Darby. A week later, it was Terrence Brooks and Darby again. Then, last week against the 'Canes, P.J. Williams got in on the action along with true freshman Nate Andrews.

The playmaking ability of FSU's defense is nothing to scoff at. A season ago, the Seminoles had 11 interceptions in 14 games. With six games likely still to play in 2013, the 'Noles already have 12 interceptions.

"We wanted to do a better job of getting takeways coming into the year," Williams said. "And we have done that. We just have to keep focused and making plays when we can."

FSU injury report

Out for game
Out for season

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