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September 14, 2012Wake Forest at No. 5 Florida State
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.
Stadium: Doak Campbell Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday 12:00 PM ET
Wake Forest: 2-0, 1-0 ACC (Beat North Carolina 28-27)
Florida State: 2-0, 0-0 ACC (Beat Savannah State 55-0)
Series history: The Seminoles have an all-time series lead of 23-6-1. However, the Demon Deacons have won four of the last games, including 35-30 decision last season in Winston-Salem.
Jim Grobe is 4-6 against the Noles during his head-coaching tenure at Wake.
What is on the line? A 2-0 start conference play would give the Deacs leg up in the Atlantic Division race and halfway toward being bowl-eligible.
Quotes of the week
"We're 25, 26-point underdogs, but we feel like it's going to be a lot closer than that. We feel like we're going to go down and it's going to be a dogfight. We've been in dogfights in these past two weeks. Hopefully that can play to our advantage. We're going to be ready, ready to go. Winning those past four out of six gives us confidence that we've done it in the past, we've beaten them before and we can do it again." - Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro
"I see it as a great experience. It's the first time I'm getting to be on Florida soil in a while, so I'm happy to get back home and be able to play in front of some of those friends and family that are going to make the trip up there. Just playing against Florida State, a perennial powerhouse, Bobby Bowden, Jimbo Fisher, those guys are picked to go to the national championship every year, so the chance as a team to put our skills next to them and see where we compare and get the chance to compete against them is always great. It's always something we look forward to. It's a challenge."
"We know that we're not going to sneak up on them in any form or fashion. They know who's coming to Tallahassee. We just have to be prepared on our end to do everything we need to do to put ourselves in position to win, so there's really no extra talk going on between the guys. We really know what it takes. It's a real good focus on the team right now." - Wake Forest free safety Daniel Mack
"I don't know what people think of us, but we're definitely going in with a chip on our shoulder, with total confidence." - Wake Forest mike linebacker Mike Olson
"I think we're about a 150-point underdog. [My wife] Holly [Grobe] can't wait to get the USA Today and see what the spread is. It about knocked me off my chair when she told me what the spread was. I think that should get our guys focused. If anything would it's the kind of caliber team you're getting ready, you're getting to play the fifth-ranked team in the country, and if you can't get ready to go do that now you got issues. That should get our attention pretty quick." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
"I'm very happy about our performance this weekend. We did what we were supposed to do - we executed very well and challenged our team to practice well and prepare well and they did that. They came out in all three phases and played the kind of game that we could. I was very happy with that. I wish we could have got some more guys work later in the game. We were planning to get some of those young guys in more, but under the circumstances with the weather and the situations that occurred but overall I was happy with our performance."
"I hope that we can prepare well for a better Wake team this week. Wake is playing very well, they had a great win against North Carolina - played typical Wake football, did the things they needed to do and they're a very good football team and we'll definitely have our hands full and we'll have to play a great game this week in order to compete and do what we need to do for our team. I'm looking forward to it - looking forward to a challenge and it's our first ACC opener and it's a divisional game, so it's a double whammy. We need to be dotting I's and crossing T's and be ready to play." - Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Keys to the game
1) Protect Price
Wake once again has a new-look offensive line after injuries have forced Antonio Ford to move from left guard to left tackle, and Whit Barnes to switch from backup center to left guard. Despite the changes the Deacs have yielded a mere two sacks.
However, the challenge to keep Tanner Price's uniform intensifies with a ferocious FSU front seven on the other side of the ball. While the Seminoles are without pre-season All-American Brandon Jenkins they should not be pitied, as ACC-sack-leader Bjoern Werner (five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss) represents a very probable matchup problem from the defensive end position.
"I think pre-season some of the magazines felt like they might be the best front group in the country [at] linebacker and defensive linemen," Grobe said. "They have a lot of talented guys, guys that can run to the football. They're like they've always been; real aggressive, can really knock you out playing base-defense and when they bring people they're really fast, can cover, can play man, can play zone, those type things."
When given time Price's arm has proven to be lethal with last week's win over UNC being a prime example as he torched the Tar Heels for a career-high of 327 yards through the air.
2) Knock the Noles off balance
In Florida State's two wins against significantly undermanned FCS opposition it has averaged a balanced 226 yards rushing and 283.5 yards passing on offense.
The task facing the Demon Deacons is to make the Seminoles one-dimensional by.
3) Rattle Manuel
It is difficult to unnerve an experienced quarterback like E.J. Manuel, who has dual-threat ability and an elite arsenal skill-position players to distribute the ball to.
At the same time Wake Forest has improved its pass-rush from a year ago. In two games the Deacs have made four sacks, while only bringing down opposing quarterbacks down behind of the line-of-scrimmage 11 times last season.
"I think we've got some maturity out of Justin Jackson, Joey Ehrmann's grown up and Ziggy [Allen], those three are pretty explosive kids, pretty aggressive guys," Grobe said. "And then we feel like that the guys that are down inside, especially Hasan [Hazime], but we were getting a little bit better push in the pocket. Even though we're not a very big defensive front we're getting a little better push up front."
"You just never know. It's week-to-week that kind of stuff. You try to work out schemes that will give you a chance to get some pressure, but I think our challenge this week is having a guy as mobile as E.J. Manuel. You can be pretty good in your pass-rush and not put a finger on him. He's very, very elusive, so we have a more mobile quarterback this week than we've seen the first two weeks. That will give us problems."
4) Eliminate mistakes
When facing a team with the caliber of talent FSU presents on offense and defense foolish penalties, turnovers, broken coverages and missed assignments can be crushing to a lesser team's chances to win.
Wake cannot afford give the Noles any freebies. The Demon Deacons turned ball over just 12 times in 2011, and have only given it away twice this season. That trend must continue or improve in Tallahassee.
Penalties were an issue against the Tar Heels as the Deacs committed eight for 55 yards. Wake Forest cannot afford those negative numbers Saturday.
5) Spread the wealth
It is a no-brainer Campanaro has the attention of Florida State and rest of the team's left on Wake's schedule after catching 22 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season.
After shouldering the load with an injured ankle versus Liberty Terence Davis, Sherman Ragland and Brandon Terry emerged as reliable targets at critical junctures against North Carolina.
"With number three [Campanaro] we know that he can go catch it, but if those other guys go catch it makes it much easier on Tanner," Grobe said. "I thought Tanner did a nice job going to those other guys, because if I was a quarterback I'd try to find one guy all the time, but he's got so many different guys now. If they continue to improve like they did in one week from Liberty to North Carolina the improvement in that receiving group was night and day, and if those other guys will continue to play consistently then that helps Camp and Tanner."
Wake needs that same level of production from Davis, Ragland and Terry at Florida State to free Campanaro up to make plays and keep the Seminoles secondary honest.
*A special thanks goes out to the ACC Communications for the Jimbo Fisher quotes.