No. 5 Florida State hosts nemesis Wake Forest
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher likes to describe Saturday's contest against Wake Forest as a double-whammy game.
The game between the Seminoles (2-0) and Demon Deacons (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is not only Florida State's league opener, but a divisional matchup as well. It's also the Seminoles first game against a Football Bowl Subdivision team this season.
''Double whammy,'' Fisher said on several occasions this week. ''We need to be sure we're ready to play.''
The fifth-ranked Seminoles are a four-touchdown favorite to beat the Demon Deacons, who won last year's meeting 35-30 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Seminoles have been pointing to this date for a while.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner conceded this week that the Seminoles ''overlooked'' the Demon Deacons last year.
''They outplayed us,'' Joyner said. ''This year we're ready.''
Wake Forest's victory last year effectively ended any chances Florida State had of winning the ACC and earning a bid to a BCS game last year.
''They are the same team in a sense and we're the same team in a sense,'' Florida State middle linebacker Vince Williams said. ''But it's going to be a brand new game.''
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe knows his club is stepping into a tough situation.
''They're going to be pumped up,'' Grobe said. ''Because we got them last year, I know they're motivated to get a little bit of revenge.''
While Wake Forest has eked out close victories over Liberty and North Carolina, the Seminoles' numbers are gaudy after running roughshod over FCS opponents Murray (Ky.) State and Savannah State by a combined 124-3 margin. Florida State's defense ranks second nationally in all of the significant defensive categories and quarterback EJ Manuel is sixth nationally in passing efficiency.
But they've always had difficulty in recent seasons against Grobe's teams, losing four of the last six games in the series.
''There are just some teams that you match up with a little better once in a while and some teams that you're a little more motivated to play against,'' Grobe said. ''I think with the number of kids that we have on our roster from Florida we've been able to get pretty excited to play the `Noles.''
Grobe, however, is concerned about an unsettled situation in his offensive line, which will be facing one of the nation's stingiest defenses.
''Our offensive line is still in flux,'' he said. ''It's not good right now. We're just too young and inexperienced.''
Florida State's offensive line is also new for the most part and faces its biggest test so far trying to protect Manuel and help create running space as well.
Fisher, a former small college quarterback during his playing days, is worried about containing the Demon Deacons junior quarterback, Tanner Price, who threw three touchdown passes in last year's Wake Forest victory.
''He's accurate - knows where he's going with the ball, good arm, keep plays alive with his feet, very instinctive,'' Fisher said. ''The real deal.''
And Price has a favorite receiver in Michael Campanaro, who has 22 catches in two games.
''He and Price have a great communication connection,'' Fisher said.
But then Manuel has a host of receivers and a playbook that has been hardly touched in the first two games.
''We haven't really had to do anything that's real complicated for the offense,'' he said. ''But they know what to do.''