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October 8, 2011

Five keys to the game: Wake Forest vs. No. 23 Florida State

Wake Forest vs. No. 23 Florida State
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Stadium: BB&T Field
Kickoff: 12:30 ET
TV/Internet: ACC Network Affiliates, ESPN3.com and ESPN Gameplan
Current record:
Wake Forest: 3-1, 2-0 ACC (Beat Boston College 27-19)
No. 23 Florida State: 2-2, 0-1 ACC (Lost to Clemson 35-30)
Last Meeting: The Seminoles defeated the Demon Deacons 31-0. Florida State leads the all-time series 23-5-1, and is currently riding a two-game winning streak against the Deacs.

Quotes of the week
"They play hard. Coming in they're one of the top teams in the country, top teams in the country, so it's pretty much backed behind they're defense. That's going to be a good challenge." -Wake Forest running back Brandon Pendergrass

"Very beatable, I'm very confident in our team, and I think that right now we can play with anybody in the nation if we just go out and execute. I really believe that we can play with the best." -Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price

"It really stems from practice just really trying to be competitive. It really goes back to the guys we go against in practice with Chris Givens, Danny Dembry and Michael Campanaro. They prepare us for every opponent. To go against great receivers in practice prepares us to go against great receivers in the game. It definitely transitions." -Wake Forest cornerback Daniel Mack

"I think the key for us is we're going to get a good energy level out of our kids. I think Florida State is going to bring a good energy level, because they know it's an important game. The thing for us is for the young guys to play emotionally at a high level, but to think while they're doing it. Typically in big games with a lot of energy out they have a tendency to make more mental mistakes. That'll be an interesting thing for our players to find out how they'll handle a game that's going to be jacked up to get out there and play, and can they take their brain out there with them while they're doing it." -Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe

Five keys to the game
1) The Price of time
With the struggles of Wake's rushing attack (108.5 yards per game, which ranks 99th nationally) pass protection is even more important against the Seminoles.
Today comes with the daunting task of blocking a formidable Florida State defensive line led by ends German-born Bjoern Werner (3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks) and preseason All-American Brandon Jenkins (four tackles for loss and two sacks).

After giving up eight sacks in the first three games Wake's offensive line did allow one in the Deacs 27-19 win over Boston College. Grobe did attribute that success to better pass blocking, but said Price has great movement in and out of the pocket and throws well on the run.

Werner and Jenkins will certainly bring the chase to Winston-Salem.

2) Defending a two-headed monster
Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel sat out the Noles 35-30 loss to Clemson after injuring his non-throwing shoulder against Oklahoma is expected to play today. It is unlikely that the Virginia native is completely back to full-speed, which will limit some of FSU's play-calling. Manuel still brings more mobility to the position than redshirt freshman Clint Trickett

"E.J., he's tall, he's big, he's strong, he's fast," Wake Forest outside linebacker Kyle Wilber. "Just watching Oklahoma if there was nothing open for him he'll take off. He was kind of outrunning their defense a little bit. It's a good thing Oklahoma had everyone running to the ball, or he would've broke one on them."

If Manuel is forced to sit Jimbo Fisher for a solid substitute or his second starter, Trickett. In a losing effort to the Tigers Trickett completed 24 of 38 pass for 336 yards, three touchdowns and was intercepted once.

"Trickett, I looked on ESPN I saw he had the number three quarterback rating in the nation, so I know he's a precise passer," Wilber said. "He's great throwing the ball, so either one [Manuel or Trickett] that's going to be a great challenge for us."

In four games the Seminoles have allowed 12 sacks, which favors the Demon Deacons front seven especially if Trickett again replaces Manuel. Wake sacked Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig twice, and often hurried him into incompletions.

3) Wake's passing attack vs. Seminoles secondary
The FSU defense has allowed only 698 yards and four touchdowns through the air, but the Noles showed vulnerability when Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

Price has completed 80 of 127 passes for 1,119 yards, seven touchdowns, throwing just two interceptions. At his arsenal is arguably the ACC's top corps of receivers led by Chris Givens, Michael Campanaro and Danny Dembry.

Givens is averaging an impressive an ACC best 124.5 yards receiving per game. He and Price will need to be on their game against a shaky, but talented FSU secondary.

4) Deacs pass coverage
It is not guaranteed that Wake Forest will put the same pressure on Manuel or Trickett that it harassed Rettig with, which puts even greater weight on the play of its secondary.

If the Demon Deacon faithful by Syracuse's Van Chew or N.C. State's T.J. Graham then they have not seen anything yet.

"Their freshman, Rashad Greene, he's caught a lot of balls for them," Mack said. "Rodney Smith he's caught a lot of balls. He's real big, tall receiver. Bert Reed, he's very experienced. He's been doing it at Florida State for a couple of years now. He's been there a while catching balls, and making a lot of plays. Their tight end position is pretty good too, and they have real good receiving out of the backfield with Lonnie Pryor at fullback."

Like Price, Manuel and Trickett have a deep corps of receivers to throw too, which bodes for a long day of aerial assaults.

5) Opportunistic football
Whether they were breaking up passes, making an interception, sacking the quarterback or forcing and recovering a fumble the Demon Deacons were opportunistic last week.

Grobe and his staff have harped all season on making plays and creating turnovers, but sometimes a team just needs the ball to bounce its way. If and when that happens today the Demon Deacons must seize opportunity and capitalize.

"We got to pursue the ball," Wilber said. "We have to take balls away you know, get turnovers, create fumbles, make interceptions on our defense. We just have to try to stone their offense."


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