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Game Preview: No. 2 FSU vs. Syracuse

Nov. 15, 2013

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INDIVIDUAL STATS COMPARISON

No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (9-0, 7-0 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Jameis Winston 69.2 295.7 26 7
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Devonta Freeman 116 650 72.2 9
Karlos Williams 61 444 49.3 8
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Rashad Greene 50 820 91.1 8
Kenny Shaw 35 622 69.1 3
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Telvin Smith 56 1.0 6.5 1
Lamarcus Joyner 47 3.5 5.0 1
 

Syracuse Orange (4-5, 2-4 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Scott Shafer
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Terrel Hunt 58.7 118.25 7 7
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Jerome Smith 144 705 78.33 10
Prince-Tyson Gully 78 440 48.89 4
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Jarrod West 18 342 38.00 1
Ashton Broyld 33 321 35.67 0
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Durell Eskridge 59 0.5 2.0 3
Marquis Spruill 51 3.5 11.0 0

#CUSEvsFSU infographic

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

Florida State

5 Jameis Winston

Winston has been at the center of national headlines this week but on the field nothing has changed for the Heisman Trophy candidate.

FSU's starting quarterback has continued to do what he has done through the first nine games of his career: prepare for each specific opponent.

"Just game plan every week," Winston said. "We prepare like there's nothing else to lose. We're preparing for Syracuse and they have a good defense. They gave up three points the last three games I believe and we are just coming in and preparing and trying to do our job."

FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said Thursday night that he's been pleased with Winston's ability to stay focused on making sure he is ready to compete against a Syracuse defense on the quest for an upset at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"He's been great," Fisher said. "He's been great. He went out and practiced well and has eliminated clutter from what I can understand as far as the distractions and practiced well. He's doing very well."

 
Syracuse

45 Jerome Smith

Smith is the main reason why Syracuse is top-30 nationally in rushing offense.

The rumbling junior tailback is a load to bring down, running with equal parts speed and power. Syracuse is averaging nearly 204 yards on the ground per game and Smith accounts for 78 of those yards.

Against his best opponent to date, Smith ran for 125 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries against Clemson earlier this season.

The Seminoles will have to be focused on limiting Smith and the rushing attack -- and therefore forcing the Orange to try beat them in the passing game against perhaps the nation's top secondary.

"Physical, hard [and] tough. Downhill. They bring it now, him and Prince Tyson-Gulley is extremely good," Fisher said. "He ran extremely well against Clemson and everybody they played. They pound it in there and they stay true to what they do and they play great defense and great team football."

Key players: Defense

Florida State

15 Mario Edwards, Jr.

Edwards, Jr. has emerged as one of the top run-stuffing defensive ends in college football and his overall game continues to develop.

Edwards, Jr. is critical for FSU's defensive gameplan Saturday as the 'Noles focus on stopping Syracuse's run game.

"I've been very pleased with his progress," Fisher said. "He's an extremely explosive guy. I mean extremely. He can be as powerful guy as we have. I mean we have some guys on our team that very powerful, but he can be as powerful as anybody we have. He can take on blockers, powerful push the pocket, change the line of scrimmage but he also has that quickness to run you down and make plays."

 
Syracuse

11 Marquis Spruill

As Syracuse's top defensive playmaker, Spruill leads the Orange in tackles for loss from his linebacker position.

Like his teammate Smith, Spruill had an inspired performance against the Tigers. In that game he led the Orange with nine solo tackles and even posted two tackles for loss.

Defensively, Syracuse is sixth in the ACC with 363.9 yards allowed per game.

"They have a lot of good blitzes," Winston said. "They have a good team. They got a lot of good players, a lot of great blitzes and we're got to try to expose that but we're going to do what we do and try to get this victory."

Four Downs: Storylines for FSU vs. Syracuse

1. FSU's avoidance of the "clutter"

Devonta Freeman is one of many leaders on this 2013 FSU squad

As the nation's No. 2 team, Florida State has been splashed across the headlines throughout the duration of the college football season.

It's place in front of the sporting world helps lead to what Fisher and his players call "clutter" -- or better known known as the outside world swirling around them off the field as they prepare, practice and play the game on the field.

This week has certainly been no different, further testing each player's ability to block out that "clutter" and concentrate solely on Syracuse and the task at hand. Fisher says he's seen no change in his team.

"They rallied around each other," Fisher said. "They understand it and they are a family -- that's one of the things I love about this team. It's tight knitness and its true caring for each other and they practiced well and did a nice job."

2. Stopping Syracuse's run game is critical for the Seminoles

Florida State's defense will be focused on stopping the run Saturday

Florida State has been so dominant this season that it gets increasingly more difficult to highlight certain aspects of its opponents that present challenges.

That logic is certainly true for underdog Syracuse but the Orange do present a challenge with a two-back system behind the quarterback that churn out big yardageon the ground.

FSU's players know that the Orange are a run-first team and have been preparing as such this week at practice.

"Coach has really harped on that in meetings," said FSU safety Terrence Brooks, who is making his return to the starting lineup after a concussion forced him to miss the Wake Forest game. "They have a good team. They've got some players that can really bust open some big runs."

3. FSU has the chance to go 8-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2000

FSU has the chance to finish ACC regular-season play 8-0

Not only does FSU have a chance to move to 10-0 for the sixth time in program histoiry, the Seminoles have the opportunity to post a perfect 8-0 ACC record for the first time in 13 years -- a remarkable streak considering how dominant the 'Noles have traditioanlly been in their conference.

Saturday against Syracuse, FSU has the chance to update the record books and end a streak that their fans are surely excited to see come to its end.

"We have just stay the same and done the same thing this week to prepare that we have done all year," Brooks said. "Really I feel like this is the part that is going to test us the most is really just finishing out the season strong [and] just not getting distracted about things in the future.

"We have been doing a great job all season of staying focused and not losing our composure."

4. FSU will honor the 1993 National Championship team

Charlie Ward led the 'Noles to the 1993 National Championship

Bobby Bowden. Charlie Ward. Warrick Dunn. Derrick Brooks?

Need I say more?

Florida State's game against Syracuse Saturday is more than just the final ACC regular-season contest for the 'Noles; it's also an opportunity to honor the program's first national championship squad. Some of the biggest and most important names in Florida State football history will be on hand for the game and will be recognized for their acheivements 20 years ago.

Interestingly, FSU players either weren't born yet, or were too young to remember FSU's first title. But that doesn't mean the importance of that part of the 'Noles' history is lost on them.

"You just think about the face of the university," said FSU senior wide receiver Kenny Shaw, who was a one-year-old in 1993. "Them guys, they set it in stone. Those guys are legends. It's going to be exciting to see them come back."

FSU injury report

Out for game
Out for season

 Doak Insider Podcast game preview

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