Oct. 7, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When Florida State and Wake Forest kick-off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Winston-Salem, NC, it will mark the end of a long two-week break since the Seminoles’ last game.
But that’s not the streak that FSU is concerned with when it plays its second Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. Instead, the focus is on getting back on track as Saturday will mark four weeks since the ‘Noles last one a ballgame.
It’s a head-scratching amount of time without a “W” but back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Clemson coupled with a much-needed bye week has put FSU in this particular position.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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Still, the bye couldn’t have come at a better time. FSU will play at BB&T Field as a team that was tired and beat up at the conclusion of a nail-biting loss to the Tigers but has used the brief time off to rest, get healthy and gear up for a season that is only one-third of the way done.
“It was a well-received little rest we had,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Got some guys healed up. Moving around much better, feel very good and look forward to playing a great Wake
Forest team. Wake Forest is having a great year, playing very well. Doing a great job on all three phases; they always do. And we are going to have to prepare well, play well to have some success.
Looking forward to the opportunity.”
The “healed up” list included junior playmaker Greg Reid, who was in pads but never played against Clemson while still feeling the effects of an injury sustained against Oklahoma. Offensively, one more week of rest could also mean the return of redshirt senior wide receiver Bert Reed, who has missed the past two ballgames with an injury.
Bigger than that, though, is the likely return of quarterback EJ Manuel. FSU’s starting quarterback was hurt against the Sooners and then did not play in Death Valley. The virginia Beach, Va. native returned to practice this week and is expected — but not guaranteed — to play this Saturday.
“He seems to be ready,” Fisher said. “We’ll have to judge as we go. I don’t want to saying anything in particular until we get to that point.”
Whether or not it’s Manuel or backup Clint Trickett may not matter if the ‘Noles can’t get the running game going.
The Seminoles are painfully close to the bottom of the ground-game barrel from a national standpoint, ranking 115th in the country with an average of 79.5 yards per game. If the ‘Noles can generate any bit of positive momentum on the ground against the Demon Deacons, it will go a long way towards making them a more complete, difficult-to-prepare-for team.
“We are working on it,” junior running back Chris Thompson said. “I think we are getting better. This off-week really helped us to hone in on some skills and things. It was just all focus. It was really one of the reasons why we haven’t really picked it up like we have. But we have been focusing on our assignments so we are going to be better.”
The Seminoles need to get better defensively, too.
After showing off in front of a primetime audience against Oklahoma, the FSU defenders regressed a week later at Clemson. The Tigers were able to move the ball at will in their 35-30 victory — particularly on crucial third downs — and the Seminoles committed a plethora of penalties on the defensive side of the ball that drastically shifted the momentum of the game.
The ‘Noles can’t have those same mental miscues this week against a Wake Forest team that likes to throw the football.
“The defense is ready to go because we had a bad performance against Clemson,” sophomore defensive end Bjoern Werner said. “People are doubting our defense so we finally get the opportunity to prove ourselves again.”
Just like the last away game, the FSU Road Warriors will be back on the highway headed north. Be sure to follow along here at Seminoles.com for updates and blog postings during the journey to the game on Friday.
Not sure what channel the game will be aired on Saturday? We’ve got you covered. The ACC Network will broadcast the game so there are a multitude of carriers depending on where you live. Check out this TV Guide for more information on what station will have the game.
You can also watch the game on your computer, tablet or XBox 360 through ESPN3.com. Click here for more information.