Jordan Pandy, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – After an emotional win against Miami, Florida State looked sluggish in their homecoming game on their way to beating Wake Forest 17-6. The Seminoles offense struggled a bit keeping possession, but the defense played hard and did not falter.
The first drive for the Seminoles was short-lived, ending in a three-and-out. This was the first time all season that the Noles were unable to move the chains on their first drive.
“You have to finish drives,” said head coach Jimbo Fisher. “But its just part of it. Got to get better at it, got to work on it. We try to script them, do everything to come out with energy – got to play better. Now defense, remember they were starting slow and now they’re coming out good. So we just have to keep going. Just keep playing, and keep coaching, and doing what we’re doing.”
Florida State had trouble holding on to the ball today, turning the ball over a season-high four times. Francois was picked off and lost a fumble on a sack in the second half. Dalvin Cook uncharacteristically fumbled the ball twice in this game; one fumbled forced him out of the game for some time, but he did later return.
Francois did not look to be 100% on the field, but still threw for 319 yards with a completion percentage just under 60%. Even with the one mistake Fisher was still happy with his quarterback’s performance.
“His decision making on the day, even though he got hit, was good,” said Fisher. “When he got time to set his feet, he was hitting the guys he needed to hit.”
Another injury that the Noles sustained during the game was to senior wide receiver and return man Bobo Wilson. The injury came on a non-contact play when Wilson was breaking out of a route. Wilson was then carted off the field but later returned to the sideline with crutches and a boot on his foot.
A bright spot for the Florida State offense was Travis Rudolph’s career day. The junior wide receiver eclipsed his previous career-high in receiving yards, 201, with a very important 238 today. Coach Fisher talked about Rudolph’s increase in confidence this season.
“Anytime you go get numbers, and you look at them, it makes you feel good, makes you play good,” said Fisher. “Kind of validates what coaches are saying to him, ‘is he really saying that, am I really doing it or am I not?’ Because you’re saying, ‘why am I not getting the ball?’ But that’s where you have to keep believing. All of a sudden the balls came to him.”
The defense finally stepped up and put their mark on the game and, for the most part, played to their ability; for the first time this season they did not allow a touchdown. The defense allowed only 184 yards through the air, intercepting the ball twice, and 68 yards on the ground, forcing one fumble. Defensive back Tarvarus McFadden picked off his fifth pass of the season, which puts him in the lead for most interceptions in the country.
Josh Sweat had an impressive game too. He finished the game second in tackles for the Noles, tallying seven on the day with 1.5 sacks. This is really the first time we’ve seen Sweat healthy and he is proving himself to be an elite defensive game changer.
“I feel like I’m doing really good,” said Sweat. “I feel like I figured it out a little bit. I don’t know what it was and I know it took me a while, but I feel like I’m playing a lot faster now. It feels good, I had a lot of fun.”
Sweat attributed some of his success to lining up opposite of one of the best defensive lineman in the country DeMarcus Walker. Walker, coming off of a game-winning PAT block against Miami last week, had two sacks, which brings his total up to 8.5 on the season, and was just one tackle shy of Sweat’s total today.
“I like it,” said Sweat. “They’re probably focusing on him [Walker] a little more, so I’m just going to make the most of it – I’m not going to lie to you.”
Both Sweat and Walker were both appreciative of the scheduling of this year’s bye week, which is lined up right before the third ranked team in the country, Clemson. Walker sounded relieved talking about this week of rest.
“It’s lined up perfect,” said Walker. “It gives everybody some time to get some rest. Clemson is going to be a pretty good game. We just have to worry about everybody getting healthy, catching up with schoolwork, and preparing for those guys.”
The Seminoles get a much-needed week of rest for their upcoming ACC showdown against Clemson. Players need rest, the offense needs a little bit of maintenance, and the defense just needs to continue to do what they are doing. Look to see an energized Florida State team on both sides of the ball in two weeks against Clemson.