by Dave Lackford
Winston-Salem, NC - FSU squeaked by Wake Forrest, 24-16, as Tyler Hunter intercepted a pass in the end zone as time ran out. Things looked good early as Dalvin Cook exploded for a 94 yard touchdown run on the first play of FSU's second drive. The good vibes ended shortly thereafter, as Cook pulled up lame with an apparent hamstring injury on the next possession. He would not return to the game and the offense only managed 17 points the rest of the way. While a win is a win is a win, much like the overcast conditions at Winston Salem today, it's tough to find any sunshine looking back at this one. FSU looked bad today and are lucky to be flying back to Tallahassee with a win. There isn't much time for the 'Noles to relax and lick their wounds either. The Seminoles' hated in-state rival, the Miami Hurricanes, loom on the horizon. In college football, the death of your season can hinge upon one letdown game. After Miami, FSU will face a Louisville team that has won its last two games and will be coming off a bye. The awkward puberty stage of this team's development has to end now, the 'Noles have grown man business to attend to for the rest of the 2015 season.
Here are the facts, let's go with the bad news first:
1.) Dalvin Cook, the cornerstone of the FSU offense left the game with a hamstring injury and spent the second half in street clothes. A Hamstring injury, to a player that depends on his freakish speed, acceleration, and change of direction abilities, rarely get the chance to fully heal. Head Coach JimboFisher told the media that Dalvin has a hamstring and he is day-to-day.
3.) Linebacker Terrance Smith, who has looked like an All-American so far this season, left the game with what looked like a foot injury and never returned. All x-rays came back negative on Smith, he is day-to-day.
4.) Fifth-year Senior QB, Everett Golson remains hesitant to pull the trigger on downfield throws, and today when he did, the passes were badly under thrown, dying before coming anywhere near their intended targets. In fairness, the wind may have played a major role in the lack of distance on his throws, as Jimbo Fisher mentioned the conditions were bad in the post game presser.
5.) Seminole wide receivers struggled to pull in open passes once again today, yet they retain a firm grip on their stating roles, as Jimbo Fisher has been reluctant to replace them with younger bluechip talent.
6.) Wake Forrest's Tight End, Cam Serigne, caught 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. This could be a direct result of Terrance Smith and Nate Andrew's absences. If neither can return against Miami, bet your bottom dollar Miami will scheme to take advantage of that hole in the defense.
7.) The defensive front did not generate any pressure solely with it's defensive line. They did manage to put some heat on the QB but it was only when Charles Kelly sent extra defenders on the blitz. Jimbo Fisher addressed this after the game and emphasized that it must me fixed.
8.) The young 'Noles were very undisciplined today, committing 10 penalties for 100 yards.
9.) FSU had chances to put Wake Forrest away twice in the second half but missed opportunities to land the knock out blow. You want to see that killer instinct coming off a bye week, especially on the road, It's a sign that your young players have developed a sense of urgency and they do not overlook their opponent.
10.) The Florida Gators just defeated the #3 ranked Ole Miss Rebels 38-10. This is bad in and of itself if you're an FSU fan. It is even more relevant and poignant today because a large number of blue chip recruits FSU is competing with them for watched this development unfold with front row seats. I don't get into recruiting very much on this site but I assure you that there are multiple players, FSU commits and targets that are on the fence, that may be leaning toward Gainesville right now.
1.) Wake Forrest is an improved team from last season. They came into the FSU game averaging 428 yards per game on offense while only surrendering 294 to its opponents. FSU held them well under their average offensive yardage production per game and gained 35 more than their average yards allowed.
2.) The reshuffled FSU offensive line held up well today, providing clean pockets for Everett Golson most of the game.
3.) While the defense gave up more yards and points than they wanted to today, they still kept the 'Noles in the game, allowing them to improve to 4-0. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly played a read and react scheme to combat WF's read option attack. The Deacs were able to nickel and dime their way down the field efficiently, but only managed to put 17 points on the board. If it weren't for the aid of a few costly personal fouls, they may not have been so lucky. While personal fouls are annoying, the are somewhat of a confounding variable and cannot be extrapolated from one game to the next, at least not in regard to FSU. The Noles have only averaged 37 penalty yards coming into this game so the 100 given up today appears to be a fluke occurrence.
4.) FSU still has not turned the ball over on offense. When you take that fact at face value it is quite the bit of good news, and should be shined up and placed ostentatiously on the mantle, for all you entertain to admire. Upon closer examination however, a discerning eye would notice that this stat does not tell the whole story. It seems that the lack of turnovers may be a direct result of conservative play calling employed due to a reluctance of the coach to open the playbook for a trigger shy QB, still learning the nuances of the system he operates, who is playing behind an unsettled offensive line.
The offensive side of the ball isn't the only area of concern now either. Add to the offensive issues, the fact that two of the most steady defensive players on a very young unit may be out with injuries, and things look bleak. The bright side to the Andrews injury is that Derwin James is a young star in the making and this may be his chance to burst on the scene against the hated Hurricanes. More solace can be taken in the fact that Smith's injury didn't appear to be major and his x-rays came back negative.
The trump card of good news for Seminole fans is that Jimbo Fisher is running the show. Fisher is 61-11 since taking over at FSU, and 42-3 since 2011. If anyone has overcome adversity and maintained a winning program, it is Jimbo Fisher and his staff.
When he was asked about the injuries to his three star players Fishered responded,
"You know what, next man up, that's ball that's life."
The defense has held fort for the 'Noles this season and Charles Kelly deserves a lot of praise, as his unit has given the offense time to gel. The question that still remains is, how much longer will this have to be the case? Miami comes to town next week and it has been estimated that some 140 recruits will be in attendance. This is FSU's first true test of the season and there are some major concerns, many in the fan base are screaming that their pets' heads are falling off. Other factions of the 'Nole fan base have taken the early offensive troubles in stride, reminding everyone to put a smile on your face brothers, and trust in Jimbo. After all, like Jimbo advised after the Boston College game,
"Things are never as good or as bad as they look."
Indeed, life is a series of storms, you're either about to encounter one, you find yourself fighting through one, or you are emerging from one, still alive to brave the elements another day. The Seminoles emerged victorious from a storm in Winston-Salem wit their title hopes in tact, but true to my sentiment, another storm is waiting for them, and they will encounter the Hurricanes in seven days.