October 29, 2011

Keys to the game revisited

Florida State looked every bit of the preseason top-10 team they were when the year began on Saturday afternoon when they recorded a 34-0 victory over NC State. The Wolfpack drops to 4-4 on the year while the Seminoles move to 5-3.

Here are the Keys to the game - revisited.

Prevent the explosive FSU offensive play

What we wrote:: Florida State has big-play potential in both the ground game and passing offense, and most of the playmakers are freshmen.

Freshman running back Devonta Freeman might be small, but he just needs a crack to break free into the open. Freeman, senior Jermaine Thomas and freshman James Wilder Jr. all have had runs of at least 35 yards this season.

The FSU wide receivers can take short passes and make them big gainers. Freshman Rashad Greene averages 17.6 yards on 26 receptions with a long of 69, but is likely to miss the game, but redshirt freshman Christian Green averages 20.7 on 16 catches with a long of 59.

Junior Rodney Smith has a long of 57 yards, sophomore Kenny Shaw has a long of 51 and sophomore Greg Dent has a 50-yarder to his credit.

The NC State defense, and in particular the secondary, will have to keep the Florida State wide receivers and running backs in front of them because the Wolfpack won't want a track meet in Tallahassee.

What happened: NC State's defense did not do a good job in this regard. The Seminoles' explosive offense was on track in the first half then poured it on in the fourth quarter to close out the game. Florida State finished with seven plays of at least 20 yards, including six passing plays and a 21-yard scamper from quarterback E.J. Manuel. Two touchdowns came on plays of 20 yards or more for the home team.

Keep NC State quarterback's upright

What we wrote: It has never been easy for NC State quarterbacks to play at Florida State against the speed of its pass rushers. Former quarterback Daniel Evans still probably thinks back on a few of the hits he took when the Wolfpack played in 2007. Russell Wilson's scrambling ability was able to neutralize the Seminoles defense the next three years, including a high-scoring affair in 2009 where defense was optional.

NC State redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon is playing some of his best football, but he hasn't played a defense with the speed of Florida State. Cincinnati would arguably be the next fastest team through seven games. The Seminoles have 25 sacks and rotate defensive linemen in and out. Defensive ends Bjoern Werner, Brandon Jenkins and Cornellius Carradine have combined for 12.5 sacks. Glennon will need to pick his scrambling opportunities carefully.

What happened: NC State signal caller Mike Glennon faced heavy pressure all day and the Florida State front line of defenders definitely lived up to the hype. Glennon was sacked three times and backup quarterback Tyler Brosius was taken down behind the line of scrimmage after he entered the game.

Be sound on special teams

What we wrote: The Seminoles likely have the best special teams performers of anyone NC State has faced this season. Junior kicker Dustin Hopkins is a machine on field goals and kickoffs, and senior punter Shawn Powell is also one of the best in the ACC.

The big-play speed transfers over to the return game, but surprisingly, it is not from offensive players. Junior cornerback Greg Reid and true freshman backup strong safety Karlos Williams are both capable of going the distance on punt returns and kickoff returns respectfully.

NC State has the potential to come up with some big plays too with senior return man T.J. Graham. If the game remains close and it becomes a battle of field position, the Wolfpack will have to be sound on special teams to give its defense a chance.

What happened: The Pack needed a strong effort on special teams in order to have a shot against the Noles, but they didn't receive one. Kicker Niklas Sade attempted a 51-yard field goal that fell short and the snap was a little low on the kick. Punter Wil Baumann had a solid effort and punted seven times for an average of 40.6 yards per attempt; he recorded one kick of more than 50 yards.

The Seminoles looked like they made a concentrated effort to keep the kickoffs away from Graham early on, and he was a non-factor during the game. FSU punter Shawn Powell had all three of his rugby punts roll inside the 20-yard line.

Keep FSU's defense honest

What we wrote: NC State will not only need to develop a solid rushing attack, but also keep Florida State's aggressive defenses off guard with a few screens and dump off passes to the backs. NC State has rushed 38 times against both Georgia Tech and Virginia, and 45 vs. Central Michigan, and top 100 yards in all three contests. Florida State's rush defense is allowing 82.9 rushing yards per game and 2.2 yards per carry, which leads the ACC.

Junior running back James Washington, who is from Orlando, Fla., probably grew up watching Florida State a few times over the years on television, and would love to have a good game against his home-state college. Washington rushed for 82 yards on 25 carries last week, and had to earn every one of those yards against the Cavaliers. Washington, along with backup running backs Curtis Underwood Jr. and Anthony Creecy, will need to keep the Florida State defense from teeing off on Glennon.

What happened: The rushing offense from NC State was abysmal today. The Pack rushed 28 times for an average of 1.3 yards per carry. The team gained 67 yards rushing, but lost 31 yards on tackles for loss and sacks. Tony Creecy recorded the Red and White's longest run with an eight-yard rush.

Matchups to watch

What we wrote: NC State wide receivers vs. Florida State cornerbacks: NC State will rotate receivers in and out, but speedsters Graham, Tobais Palmer and Bryan Underwood, will need to break free at least a couple of times against Florida State's cornerbacks. Sophomore Xavier Rhodes and senior Mike Harris have been uneven for the Seminoles at cornerback, and former starter, junior Greg Reid, is now at nickel back.

What happened: The one goes to FSU. The NC State offensive attack was not very good and Glennon finished with just 130 yards passing with a pair of interceptions and no touchdowns. He hooked up with eight different receivers on the day, but T.J. Graham was the leading receiver with five catches for 39 yards.

What we wrote:NC State tackles vs. Florida State defensive ends: Saturday should be an emotional day for NCSU redshirt junior left tackle R.J. Mattes, because he blew out his knee in Tallahassee on Oct. 31, 2009. Mattes and the right tackle duo of fifth-year senior Mikel Overgaard and sophomore Robert Crisp have a tough matchup against Florida State defensive ends Jenkins and Werner.

What happened: The Seminoles' starting defensive ends combined for just four tackles on the day, but Glennon was pressured enough to where he couldn't get in a rhythm and the FSU front line definitely made their presence felt in the run game. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan probably had the game of his life with five tackles, including two for loss, a fumble recovery and a sack. Glennon's second interception was batted up at the line of scrimmage before being picked.

Stats to watch

What we wrote: 4: Interceptions this season by Florida State's defense. The Wolfpack will likely throw the ball at least 60 percent of the plays and will need to avoid turnovers.

What happened: The Seminoles defense got two interceptions, including the first of the season from a Seminole cornerback today.

What we wrote: 291.3: Yards per game opposing teams have earned against Florida State's defense this season, which ranks No. 1 in the ACC.

What happened: Again, Florida State lived up to the hype in this department. While their offense briefly checked out for the third quarter, the defense never let the visitors breathe and the Pack finished with just 166 total yards of offense.

Play of the game:

Run of the game:

Pass of the game:

Special teams play of the game:

Offensive player of the game:

Defensive player of the game:

Special teams player of the game:

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