Wake Forest vs. Florida State


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Wake Forest offense vs. Florida State defense
Wake Forest RBs Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass have yet to make an impact, and that's unlikely to change in this game. The Demon Deacons have struggled to overcome the losses of C Steve Justice (NFL draft) and RG Chris DeGeare (academic ineligibility). Justice's replacement, Trey Bailey, and DeGeare's replacement, Russell Nenon, haven't been able to create seams between the tackles. This week they face off against DTs Kendrick Stewart and Moses McCray, and while Stewart and McCray don't have great size, their quickness should give Bailey and DeGeare problems. In addition, Florida State DT Budd Thacker is expected to return from suspension, and he is the Seminoles' best run-stopper. While he might not start, he should play a big role, and no one will benefit from his return more than MLB Derek Nicholson. He does not shed blocks particularly well but Nicholson is a reliable open-field tackler who takes sound angles to the ball, making him an effective interior stuffer when his defensive tackles keep blockers off him. Making Adams and Pendergrass' job that much more difficult will be the Seminoles' team speed along the defensive front. However, Florida State's talented front seven must be careful not to get caught out of position. Wake Forest will test their discipline with plenty of misdirection and cutback runs. If the Seminoles overreact to the initial action of the play, Adams and Pendergrass are quick enough to take advantage.

QB Riley Skinner has been nothing short of remarkable thus far, completing 74.7 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and no interceptions. Don't expect the hostile environment at Doak Campbell Stadium to have much of an impact on him, either. The third-year starter is a confident leader who has shown great poise in high-pressure situations, and he played well the last time the Demon Deacons traveled to Florida State. As a result, associate head coach and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has got to find ways to disrupt Skinner's rhythm, and there's reason to be optimistic about his ability to do so. For starters, Wake Forest's pass protection has appeared suspect at times and Seminoles RDE Everette Brown is a legitimate pass-rusher coming off the edge. His initial quickness will make it tough for Demon Deacons LT Joe Birdsong to hold up when he's left on an island. Second, Seminole CBs Tony Carter, Korey Mangum and Michael Ray Garvin are capable of holding their own working against WRs D.J. Boldin, Marshall Williams and Chip Brinkman. The same can be said about ROV Myron Rolle and SLB Toddrick Verdell working against TE Ben Wooster. Andrews should be able to bring pressure from different areas of the field, depending on the situation. However, Skinner is at his best getting outside and making plays on the move so it's important that the Seminoles keep him in the pocket by rushing outside-in. There are two other concerns about Florida State's pass defense: FS Darius McClure got caught out of position and was beaten for a 62-yard touchdown pass last week, and the Seminoles' secondary has dropped too many passes that should have been picked off.

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