In an unnerving contest in Winston-Salem on Saturday, Florida State escaped with a 24-16 win against Wake Forest. It’s hard to tell if FSU really spent any time prepping for Wake Forest or if it spent the week on Miami and Georgia Tech’s triple option.
What Went Right:
Dalvin Cook’s 94-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game was the biggest highlight of the day for the Seminoles. He remains one of the better backs in the country. Some other offensive linemen got some play in this game and looked good, especially Chad Mavety at right guard. Ryan Hoefeld played at center and did well, showing more physical strength than he did last year before Cameron Erving switched to take his place.
Also, quarterback Everett Golson showed some improvement. He hit open guys when he hadn’t previously this year and did better making run checks. At least there was some improvement during the bye week.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins continues to look good. He’s already taken senior Reggie Northrup’s spot and he is playing well.
What Went Wrong:
Cook, the best player on this offense, injured his hamstring and may not play against Miami. The offense had a bye week to iron out the wrinkles and get Golson and the receiving corps some more chemistry, but still looked anemic at best. The passing game got more play with Cook out but wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jesus “Bobo” Wilson responded by dropping numerous balls and Golson badly under-threw several open receivers deep. It was inexplosive, inefficient and above all inconsistent.
This just may be what this offense is going to be this year. Golson still isn’t running even though it would help open up the offense and there’s no clear explanation why. Is head coach Jimbo Fisher saving him for Miami? Is this a similar case to E.J. Manuel in 2012 when he refused to run because the NFL was coming up? Golson isn’t really an NFL quarterback. Can he just not grasp FSU’s complex traditional offense or is he just too afraid to make mistakes?
On top of that to say the defense looked uninterested would be a generous compliment. All offseason, we heard about how this team was hungrier than 2014’s squad and yet it sleepwalked the entire game — even when Wake Forest was threatening to tie the game near the end of regulation. It felt like a C game from them. Even cornerback Jalen Ramsey played off his man constantly and continually gave up easy throws. The defensive interior failed to anchor well throughout the game and often let the Demon Deacon offensive line get push. It’s possible it had prepped for Miami and played mostly base defense but the lack of effort is disappointing. FSU will likely get up to play Miami this weekend as well as Clemson and Florida at the end of the year but what about Louisville? Georgia Tech? N.C. State? These are mediocre teams that could easily beat FSU if the ‘Noles don’t show focus and effort, not to mention the three rivals which present more difficult challenges.
This team isn’t national title contending caliber. It’s most likely not a New Year’s Day bowl caliber. It’s probably not ACC Championship caliber. What FSU is though is 4-0 and even though 8-4 (.500 the rest of the way) is as realistic a finish as 10-2 is. The only solace Seminole fans have is that many of Florida State’s opponents are just as deeply flawed but are also less talented. The Seminoles should be competitive in every game but in some games the margin for error will be much lower than versus Wake and that’s going to be enough to drop some along the way. Hopefully, it’s not too painful.