Noles dealing with Wake -- and Ian -- in crucial week
Weather permitting, the 23rd-ranked Florida State Seminoles will host the 22nd-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday.
FSU, off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2015, is a 7-point favorite over the Deacons (3-1).
The Seminole are regarded as having the better defense and more talent overall.
Here are 4 takeaways for FSU-Wake Forest week:
1. All eyes on Hurricane Ian
FSU cancelled classes this week because of the storm.
But athletics director Michael Alford said he is confident the Seminoles can safely host the game.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, however, has put the game in doubt with his comments this week.
According to state officials, Tallahassee – site of the game – could get winds of up to 40 mph and 3 to 4 inches of rain through Friday.
“We certainly hope the ACC office makes the right decision,” Clawson said ominously Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “But if they don’t, we will. We’re not going to go down there and put anyone at risk.”
Clawson elaborated on some of his main concerns for Wake Forest’s stay in Tallahassee.
“Will they have electricity?” he asked. “Will they be able to feed us?”
The game potentially could move to Oct. 22, which is an FSU bye week. Wake Forest could move up its Boston College game.
But the guess here is the teams will play Saturday.
2. Hurricane Sam
It’s a different storm, sure, but Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman rained all over the Noles last year, beating FSU 35-14. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was intercepted once.
This year, Hartman ranks 9th nationally in passing efficiency. He has completed a career-high 64% of his passes for 962 yards, 13 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions.
Last year, he completed 58.9% of his passes for 4,228 yards, 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
His top receiver is a load. He’s A.T. Perry, who has the size (6-foot-5, 205 pounds), experience (4th-year player) and skills to burn FSU again.
Last year, he caught 71 passes for 1,293 yards, an 18.2 average and a program-record 15 touchdowns. He also torched FSU’s defense for 7 catches, 155 yards and a TD. That’s the most receiving yards allowed by FSU to a receiver during the Mike Norvell era.
This year, he if off to a slower start with 16 catches for a 17.1 average and 2 touchdowns.
3. Slow mesh a major challenge
The Wake Forest offense is a different version of this era’s popular read option.
Hartman will take a couple of extra seconds with the ball in his running back’s belly so he can read the defense post-snap.
This requires tremendous discipline from every defender. If just a single defender is out of position, Hartman is savvy enough to make FSU pay.
“It’s tough to replicate in practice,” Norvell said of his scout team’s efforts this week. “We’re going to have to be on point with our communication.
“We have to play with sound fundamentals and relentless pursuit.”
4. Don’t forget FSU’s offense
FSU ranks 14th in the nation in 3rd-down conversion at 50.9%. FSU also ranks 13th in rushing offense (226.8).
Both of those stats suggest FSU quarterback Jordan Travis and his teammates on offense can try to mitigate Hartman by keeping him off the field more than usual.