September 22, 2017 - by
First and 10: No. 12 Florida State vs. NC State

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – After a nearly unprecedented three-week break, the Florida State football team will finally return to action when it hosts North Carolina State on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. Here are the names, numbers and notes you need to know before the Seminoles take on the Wolfpack.

1) Game on

No. 12 Florida State (0-1, 0-0 ACC) vs. North Carolina State (2-1, 0-0)
When/Where: Saturday, noon/Doak Campbell Stadium (79,560)
TV/Radio: ABC/ESPN2/Seminole IMG Radio Network/SiriusXM Ch. 81

Florida State injury report:
WR Malique Jackson (Leg) – OUT

Out for Season
QB Deondre Francois (Knee)
OL Baveon Johnson (Knee)
OL Jauan Williams (Shoulder)

2. Know Your Foe

North Carolina State Wolfpack
Coach: Dave Doeren (27-27 in five seasons at NC State, 50-31 overall)

Last game: All-purpose back Jaylen Samuels ran for three touchdowns as the Wolfpack topped Furman, 49-16, last week in Raleigh, N.C. Quarterback Ryan Finley added 231 yards on 22-of-27 passing.

Last game vs. Florida State: Deondre Francois connected with Travis Rudolph for a touchdown pass with 3:09 to play that lifted the Seminoles to a 24-20 victory over NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium on Nov. 5, 2016. FSU trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half. Francois threw for 330 yards – the third-most in his career – and Nyqwan Murray broke out with nine catches and 153 yards.

NC State vs. Florida State all-time: FSU leads the all-time series 26-11 (15-4 in Tallahassee) and has won four straight.

FSU vs. NC State since 1992:

1992: No. 3 Florida State 33, No. 16 NC STATE 11

1993: No. 2 FLORIDA STATE 62, NC State 3

1994: No. 8 Florida State 34, No. 25 NC STATE 3

1995: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE 77, NC State 17

1996: No. 3 Florida State 51, NC STATE 17

1997: No. 3 FLORIDA STATE 48, NC State 35

1998: NC STATE 24, No. 2 Florida State 7

1999: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE 42, No. 20 NC State 11

2000: No. 6 Florida State 58, No. 21 NC STATE 14

2001: NC State 34, No. 14 FLORIDA STATE 28

2002: NC STATE 17, No. 14 Florida State 7

2003: No. 13 FLORIDA STATE 50, NC State 44 (2OT)

2004: No. 11 Florida State 17, NC STATE 10

2005: NC STATE 20, No. 9 Florida State 15

2006: NC State 24, No. 17 FLORIDA STATE 20

2007: FLORIDA STATE 27, NC State 10

2008: Florida State 27, NC STATE 17

2009: FLORIDA STATE 45, NC State 42

2010: NC STATE 28, No. 16 Florida State 24

2011: FLORIDA STATE 34, NC State 0

2012: NC STATE 17, No. 3 Florida State 16

2013: No. 3 FLORIDA STATE 49, NC State 17

2014: No. 1 Florida State 56, NC STATE 41

2015: No. 16 FLORIDA STATE 34, NC State 17

2016: No. 19 Florida State 24, NC STATE 20

2017: No. 12 FLORIDA STATE vs. NC State, Saturday, noon

3. Storylines
  • Saturday’s game will mark the end of perhaps the most unusual start to an FSU football season in modern program history. Due to Hurricane Irma, the Seminoles haven’t played since Sept. 2, had one game (against ULM) cancelled and another (against Miami) rescheduled. It’s FSU’s longest break between regular season games since 1983. How exactly the layoff will affect the Seminoles is a bit of a mystery. Even coach Jimbo Fisher said he’s not sure what to expect
  • The break came with at least one benefit, though: Extra time to prepare freshman quarterback James Blackman for his first career start. Blackman took three snaps late in the season opener against Alabama but has yet to throw his first collegiate pass. Both Fisher and teammates have expressed optimism about Blackman’s ability to lead the offense. He impressed throughout fall camp with a big, accurate arm, and veterans Ryan Izzo and Derwin James have both said that Blackman already commands respect in the locker room.

  • Year five under coach Dave Doeren brings another year of questions about when NC State will break into the upper echelon of the ACC Atlantic Division. No one can say the Wolfpack hasn’t come close – NC State last season missed a last-second field goal that would have beaten Clemson, and dropped an interception that likely would have sealed a win against FSU. The Wolfpack entered this season with high expectations – one analyst even picked it to make the College Football Playoff – but those were quickly tempered by a loss to South Carolina in Week 1. Still, the Wolfpack have a talented, veteran defense and a quarterback who doesn’t throw interceptions. They ought to be a tough out for most teams on their schedule.
  • The Seminoles lost a season-opener for the first time under coach Jimbo Fisher, but they’ve still got a sterling record in home openers intact. FSU is a perfect 7-0 in its first home game’s during Fisher’s tenure and 57-13 in them overall.
4. Ones To Watch

One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game

NC State: Senior Jaylen Samuels is a triple-threat playmaker who can run, catch or throw. Although officially listed as an “H-back,” Samuels rotates between receiver, tight end and running back, and has shown that he can throw passes with accuracy, too. Samuels has scored five touchdowns this season and is near the top of the school’s leaderboard in both rushing and receiving.

On defense, end Bradley Chubb will be charged with making Blackman has uncomfortable as possible. A 6-4, 276-pounder with NFL lineage (Brother Brandon played for the Detroit Lions, father Aaron played for the New England Patriots and cousin Nick is a running back at Georgia), Chubb had 10 sacks a year ago and has posted 1.5 this season.

Florida State: Conventional wisdom suggests that, with a new starting quarterback, FSU will lean heavily on its running game. But Fisher loves to zag when people think he’s going to zig, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he opts to throw more than expected. With that in mind, tight end Ryan Izzo could be in for a big game. He already got off to a nice start in the season opener against Alabama (two catches, 35 yards) and could help Blackman get into a rhythm with some short or intermediate completions.

Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, the nation’s interceptions leader a year ago, will be going up against a quarterback who doesn’t throw interceptions. NC State’s Ryan Finley has gone 192 attempts without a pick. If McFadden can reverse that trend, it will like make things that much easier for the FSU offense.

First and 10: No. 12 Florida State vs. NC State
5. Numbers To Know

Total offense: FSU: 250. YPG (127th nationally); NCSU: 493.0 YPG (24th)
Scoring offense:  FSU: 7.0 PPG (129th); NCSU: 38.0 PPG (36th)
Passing offense: FSU: 210.0 YPG (78th); NCSU: 334.7 YPG (13th)
Rushing offense: FSU: 40.0 YPG (129th); NCSU: 158.3 (71st)

Total defense: FSU: 269.0 YPG (19th); NCSU: 342.0 YPG (41st)
Scoring defense: FSU: 24.0 PPG (65th); NCSU: 23.7 PPG (63rd)
Passing defense: FSU: 96.0 YPG (2nd); NCSU: 253.7 YPG (91st)
Rushing defense: FSU: 173.0 YPG (93nd); NCSU: 88.33 YPG (11th)

6. They Said It

“For us, there may be some unknowns that you wouldn’t (normally) have. At the same time, Jimbo has been calling plays the whole time down there. He does a great job of that.” – NC State coach Dave Doeren on the challenge of facing an FSU team that hasn’t played in nearly a month

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing. I don’t know if they’re going to come out rusty or if they’re going to come out fresh.” – NC State H-back Jaylen Samuels on the same topic

“Nobody (on the current team) has ever been through this. They never went 21 days without playing before. Went a week or so and had games canceled, but never had that. So, in that regard, yes, you worry about rust. Can it be like an opener? Yes? Could it not be? Yes. All you can control is how you practice and your mindset going into the game. – Jimbo Fisher, asked if he’s worried about the team being rusty

“No quarterback has to try and win the game. You have to play the game, make the decisions based on what you have and the information you have in front of you and be accurate with the ball. But, at the same time, be aggressive.” – Fisher on his approach with James Blackman

“It’s real personal. Especially getting to go home and play my last game at Florida State. There’s always motivation, especially when I get to go home and see my family. It’s a big motivation to play in front of them.” – NC State linebacker Jerod Fernandez, a Samford native, on returning to play in his home state.

7. Nole Notes
  • When given more than a week prepare (including season-openers), the Seminoles are 22-7 under Fisher.
  • FSU is 15-4 all-time at home against NC State and has won five straight against the Wolfpack in Tallahassee.
  • NC State QB Ryan Finley has thrown 192 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active streak in the nation. The all-time NCAA record belongs to former NC State QB Russell Wilson, who went 379 attempts without an interception in 2008-09. Incidentally, three former FSU QBs are right behind Wilson on the ACC’s all-time leaderboard – Drew Weatherford threw 270 passes without an INT in 2007, while Christian Ponder (2009) and Chris Weinke (1999) each went 237 passes between interceptions.
  • NC State has lost 10 straight games against ranked opponents. That streak includes four losses against FSU. The Wolfpack’s last win against a ranked team? A 17-16 victory over No. 3 FSU in 2012.
  • Saturday marks Military Appreciation Day at FSU. Senior defensive end Rick Leonard, whose brother, Billy, serves in the U.S. Army, will carry the American flag and lead the Seminoles on to the field. There will also be a flyover of three F-16 Fighting Falcons, one of which will be piloted by FSU graduate Jeffrey Entine.
8. Watch And Learn

Sixty years ago, NC State visited Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium. On the field for the Seminoles that day was a young cornerback named Buddy Reynolds. It was the last game Reynolds would ever play for FSU. After suffering an injury in the 7-0 defeat, Reynolds left the team to pursue bigger and better things.

9. Further Reading
10. The Bottom Line

Who would have guessed that a late-September game against North Carolina State could turn out to be one of the program’s most intriguing contests in years? A three-week break, a new starting quarterback and plenty of questions surround Florida State’s latest home opener since 1977.

Will the team be rusty due to the extended break? Will it be sharp after practicing for three weeks without a game? And how will James Blackman look when all the buzz and chatter falls away and he’s actually under center in front of 80,000 people?

The answers to those questions might determine the final score of Saturday’s game, but they probably won’t affect who wins and who loses. Even without Deondre Francois, FSU is loaded with talent at the offensive skill positions and, even better, loaded with talent on defense. It’s easy to forget – it was, after all, a long time ago – but FSU’s defense looked outstanding in the opener against Alabama, and it’s unlikely that it got worse over the last three weeks. The game could be close if the offense takes a while to find its footing, but FSU’s defense should ensure that the Seminoles prevail.

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