(8) Florida State (8-1) at Virginia Tech (4-5)|
Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles begin a two-game road
trip with a critical ACC affair this Thursday night at Virginia Tech.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles were idle this past weekend and as a result, the
Clemson Tigers have moved into a tie with Florida State atop the ACC's
Atlantic Division at 5-1. However, it is the Seminoles, who have won three
straight games, that hold the tie-breaker by virtue of their victory over
Clemson back on Sept. 22.
The bye was much needed according to Fisher.
I think we need a break," Fisher said following the Duke game. "Nine straight
weeks is a long time, plus your four weeks of camp; that's 12, 13 weeks now
that you've been grinding. You need a couple days to get away [and] recharge
Frank Beamer's Hokies have had a disappointing season to date, as a streak of
10 or more wins will end at eight straight seasons. Virginia Tech has
struggled to a 4-5 overall mark, including a 2-3 record in-conference. The
Hokies have lost two straight entering this contest, including last week's
30-12 setback to Miami-Florida.
Florida State holds a 22-12-1 series advantage. Two of the last four meetings
have come in the ACC Championship Game. FSU owns a 9-2 edge in games played
since 1980, but it is Virginia Tech which has captured two of the last three
affairs, including a 44-33 shootout in the last meeting, the 2010 ACC title
The Florida State offense takes a backseat to the defense in terms of
notoriety, but maybe shouldn't in 2012, as the Seminoles have been extremely
potent and balanced, putting up averages of 44.8 ppg, with 234.6 yards coming
on the ground and another 290.0 yards through the air.
Quarterback EJ Manuel has played extremely well under center, completing 70
percent of his passes, for 2,315 yards, with 16 TDs and just four INTs. His
174.03 passer rating ranks second nationally. The passing game gets it done
with no clear cut go-to-guy on the outside. However, it is made that much more
dangerous because of a lethal ground attack.
Lead tailback Chris Thompson is gone for the year with an injury, but James
Wilder Jr. (439 yards, 5.9 ypc, eight TDs) and Devonta Freeman (391 yards, 7.4
ypc, five TDs) are more than capable of filling the void.
The defense is the driving force behind FSU's run to the conference crown, as
the team leads the nation in total defense (227.1 ypg), ranks third in scoring
defense (12.0 ppg) and rush defense (72.9 ypg) and fourth in pass defense
Bookends Cornellius Carradine (53 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 8.0 sacks) and Bjoern
Werner (27 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 8.0 sacks) have been devastating coming off the
edges. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (25 tackles, two INTs) gives the team All-
American talent in the secondary.
The Hokies have certainly shown the ability to move the football, averaging
just over 400 yards per game (401.4). Still, the team has failed in taking
care of the football.
The main culprit in that regard is quarterback Logan Thomas. What was supposed
to be a huge season for the junior signal-caller just never materialized.
Thomas has completed just 53.3 percent of his passes, for 2,109 yards. He has
thrown 13 TDs passes, but has been guilty of 12 interceptions.
Marcus Davis (36 receptions, 686 yards, four TDs) and Corey Fuller (29
receptions, 547 yards, four TDs) are a decent one-two punch in the receiving
corps. However, replacing All-American tailback David Wilson has proved
difficult, as Thomas currently leads the team in rushing (422 yards, six TDs).
The Hokies have long been known for their stingy defense, but that has not
been the case for the most part in 2012. Virginia Tech has been average at
best on that side of the football, allowing 24.7 ppg on 367.9 yards of total
Linebacker Jack Tyler leads the team in total tackles (85) and TFLs (9.5).
Safety Kyshoen Jarrett is a distant second in stops (64). Defensive end James
Gayle (30 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 4.0 sacks) was projected for a big season, but
his overall numbers are modest at best.
Beamer is aware of the mistakes in all phases of the game and commented on
that following the loss to Miami.
"We didn't produce points, and points are the name of the game," Beamer said.
"We turned the ball over in the red zone twice. It's execution. Defensively,
we give up a couple of long plays. It's execution. We get a punt blocked. It's
execution. On kickoff coverage, we get a guy out of position and one pops on
us. It's execution."
There is no doubt the Hokies will be amped up for this game, especially with
it coming at Lane Stadium. Still, Florida State is simply better on both sides
of the football and should be able to make enough plays to hold Virginia Tech
at arm's length.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 34, Virginia Tech 17
11/07 10:59:07 ET