September 10, 2012

Know your opponent: Wake Forest

2012 Record: 2-0 (6-7 in 2011). Defeated Liberty 20-17 and North Carolina 28-27.

Starters returning: 16 total, three offensive, seven defensive, and three specialists.

Breaking it down: From 1992 to 2005 the Wake Forest Demon Deacons were Florida State's own personal ACC doormat. But things have changed in this Atlantic Division matchup since 2006, with the Demon Deacons winning four of the last six meetings, including a 35-30 victory in last season's meeting in Winston-Salem, N.C..

"They've played well," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They've had good players and they're coached well."

FSU still leads the all-time series 23-6-1, with a 16-3-1 record in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Wake Forest is off to a 2-0 start this season with a pair of narrow victories and will be looking for its third victory in Tallahassee since 2006.

Through the air

Player to watch:

QB Tanner Price (Jr.)

2012 Passing: 43-66 522 yards, 1 TD, 1 interceptions

2012 Rushing: 13 carries, 24 yards, 2 TDs

Just two games into his junior campaign, Price has shown he's developed into the playmaker the Deacons need at quarterback. Against North Carolina last week Price passed for 327 yards and ran for two touchdowns in the one-point win.

Last season the Austin, Texas native passed for 3,017 yards, 20 touchdowns, and had just six interceptions as he completed 60 percent of his passes. In a 35-30 win over FSU in 2011, Price threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns.

"This guy here now is the real deal," Fisher said. "He can make plays. Accurate, knows where he's going with the ball, very good arm, keeps plays alive with his feet, very, very instinctive. He's a really good player."

Early on in 2012 Price's top target has been redshirt junior Michael Campanaro. Campanaro has hauled in 22 passes, including 13 against UNC, for 260 yards and a touchdown. Campanaro also returns punts.

"He's impressive," Fisher said of the 5-foot-11, 295-pound receiver. "Understands where holes are, how to run routes. He and Price have a great communication and connection you can see."

Redshirt sophomore Brandon Terry has also been a solid target for Price with five receptions for 125 yards. Against the Tar Heels Terry had four grabs for 87 yards.

Pounding the ground

Player to watch:

RB Deandre Martin (R-Fr.)

2012 Rushing: 25 rushes for 87 yards and 2 TDs

The Demon Deacons have struggled to get things going on the ground so far in 2012, with just 162 yards on the ground in two games, and an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Against UNC though, all four Wake Forest scores came on the ground.

Redshirt freshman Deandre Martin has been the most productive Demon Deacon back with an average of 3.5 yards per carry. The former Hialeah-Miami Lakes High school standout had just four carries last week, but did manage to find the endzone for the second time this season.

Redshirt junior Josh Harris has yet to find his stride in 2012, with just 40 yards on his team-high 26 carries, and a touchdown. Last season Harris rushed for 432 yards in nine games, 136 of which came against FSU.

Getting defensive

Player to watch:

OLB Justin Jackson (R-Jr.)

2012 Stats:16 tackles, eight solo, two sacks

Fisher hasn't had much trouble cracking the Demon Deacons' 3-4 defense the past three meetings, scoring at leas 30 points in all three games. Despite FSU's success, the Wake Forest defense is regarded as one of the best in the ACC each year.

So far in 2012 Wake Forest is allowing 395.5 yards of total offense per game, including 124 yards on the ground and 271.5 through the air.

Outside linebacker Justin Jackson and Riley Haynes (pictured to the right) have led the way for the defense, combining for 33 tackles, three sacks, and an interception in the first two contests.

The Demon Deacons could be without the heart of the their defense, in preseason All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock, who suffered a sprained ankle last week, but finished the game.

Fisher said he fully expects the 5-foot-11, 260-pound redshirt junior to play on Saturday, because he is perhaps the unit's most important clog.

"He sets the tone inside," Fisher said. "He's quick, he's athletic, he's agile, he's strong. They give him a lot of freedom, base their backers off things (he does) and make things unorthodox at times and you've got to always know where he's at and what he's doing."

Junior safety A.J. Marshall is off to a good start in 2012 with 12 tackles, six solo, 1.5 for loss, and an interception.

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