Florida State earned its first win of the season after defeating Wake Forest 26-19 on Saturday.
There were moments where it looked like the Seminoles would fall to 0-3 for the first time since Bobby Bowden’s first year as Florida State’s coach in 1976.
The defense struggled at times with Wake Forest’s tempo while the offensive woes in the red zone continued for a second consecutive week as Florida State managed only 1 touchdown in four trips to the red zone.
Penalties and injuries again were themes as well.
But the Seminoles overcame their own mistakes and a gritty Demon Deacons squad to improve to 1-2 and hand Wake Forest its first loss of the season.
Let’s take a look at how Florida State graded out in its win over Wake Forest.
Let’s start with the positives.
The Seminoles finally got their ground game unleashed. Running backs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers combined to carry the ball 33 times for 178 yards and a touchdown.
True freshman James Blackman’s numbers — 11 for 21 for 121 yards and a touchdown — were rather pedestrian. However, he did not turn the ball over and his 40-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate with 53 seconds left provided the winning margin in a previously tied game.
The negatives were aplenty also, and you can take that in a literal sense.
Wake Forest recorded a staggering 18 tackles for loss and also harassed Blackman while registering 5 sacks.
The passing game was a mess due to protection issues, but the receivers didn’t have a much better day.
EIGHTEEN TFL for Wake Forest's Defense vs. Florida State
I thought Miami averaging 9.0 per game (T-2nd nationally) was impressive
— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) September 30, 2017
The red zone struggles thwarted any chances of Florida State pulling away when the opportunity presented itself. A holding penalty nullified a Blackman touchdown run in the third quarter and forced the Seminoles to settle for a field goal.
Overall, the Seminoles totaled just 270 yards of total offense. A George Campbell fumble in the first quarter was the only turnover, which is a stroke of good fortune considering the amount of time Wake Forest spent in Florida State’s backfield.
Defense: C –
The defense had an up-and-down day. There were stretches where it played well and others — such as Wake Forest’s two touchdown drives — where it looked lost.
The Seminoles allowed Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford to amass 334 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown. Particularly frustrating had to be the plays Wolford made with his legs.
It's been this kind of year for Florida State. pic.twitter.com/RpXi6g1R3T
— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) September 30, 2017
The pass rush was nonexistent in critical moments, which is alarming considering the wealth of talent the Seminoles have on the defensive line.
Still, the positives were that they surrendered 2 fields goals early in the game after the offense and special teams left them to defend a short field. Additionally, after failing to force any turnovers in the first two games, they came up with an interception and a fumble against a team that came into the game having turned it over just once in four games.
Overall, Wake Forest racked up 367 yards of total offense, with 271 through the air. That’s a trend that Florida State has to stifle if it wants to reach its potential on defense.
Special Teams: B
Derwin James ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, but the play was wiped away because of a penalty. The run was exactly the kind of break the Seminoles could have used to start a game.
However, the return game did come through with a spark in the second quarter as Keith Gavin had a long return inside Wake Forest’s 20-yard line that set up Florida State’s first touchdown.
Tarvarus McFadden nearly muffed a punt in the fourth quarter, and was spelled by true freshman receiver D.J. Matthews at one point. The search for a reliable option there continues.
Ricky Aguayo hits a 51-yard FG to put Florida State up 3-0. career-long for Aguayo. #Noles
— Sanjay Kirpalani (@SanjayKirpalani) September 30, 2017
While it wasn’t a great sign to rely on kicking field goals, Ricky Aguayo connected on all 4 of his attempts — including a 51-yarder in the first quarter that set a career best.
Punter Logan Tyler averaged just under 40 yards per punt on his 6 attempts. It was easily the best performance of the season for this unit.
Wake Forest is an experienced team that prides itself on not beating itself. Florida State won the game in an ugly fashion. A win is a win, but there are still issues that are separating the Seminoles from being an elite team.
Florida State did lose starting left tackle Derrick Kelly to injury in this game, and another lineman, left guard Landon Dickerson, was also injured but was able to return. Despite that, the performance of that unit was at times abysmal.
FSU OL Landon Dickerson is out of the game, and headed to the locker room. Josh Ball comes in at left tackle, Ruble moves to left guard.
— Safid Deen (@Safid_Deen) September 30, 2017
The defense still has mental lapses in critical situations and penalties — Florida State had 8 infractions for 70 yards — still override the flashes of positive play that have been seen to date.
Maybe Blackman’s poise under pressure and finally breaking through with a win are the spark that lights a fire under the team and helps the Seminoles play at a more consistent level. With rival Miami coming to Tallahassee, Fla., next week hungry to end a seven-year losing streak, the time to play with a sense of urgency is now or never.
The post Florida State football: Grading the Seminoles 26-19 win over Wake Forest appeared first on Diehards.
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