By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
September 22, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- By the time the Seminoles kickoff on Saturday against North Carolina State, it’ll be just under 22 days since the Noles last took the field in their season opener against Alabama.
After having one game cancelled and another postponed due to Hurricane Irma, FSU is ready to get back to a normal schedule, and finally open up their home schedule.
They’ll do so against a conference rival in NC State, who enter Doak Campbell Stadium riding a two-game winning streak, having defeated Marshall by a final score of 37-20 and the FCS-level Furman by a 49-16 final score.
Prior to the modest winning streak, the Wolfpack opened their season with a 35-28 loss against South Carolina, despite racking up 415 passing yards out of the arm of junior quarterback Ryan Finley.
In that same game, sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Harmon hauled in 10 receptions for 114 yards while junior running back Nyheim Hines took 15 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively against the Gamecocks, the defensive front for the Pack was stout, allowing just 31 rushing yards. Defensive end Kentavius Street finished the day with a sack on SC quarterback Jake Bentley and finished with another tackle up front.
The Pack held Bentley to 215 yards through the air and picked him off once. Bentley, however, was able to toss three touchdowns against the NC State defense.
The name for the game for the Seminoles will be two fold – first, how will the Noles’ running game fare against that stout defensive front seven for the Wolfpack. NC State ranks 25th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game at 265 and are allowing 23.7 points per game.
In the season opening loss to Alabama, the Noles mustered just 40 rushing yards on 27 carries, led by 30 yards on 10 touches by freshman Cam Akers.
Secondly, FSU is breaking in true-freshman quarterback James Blackmon after Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Crimson Tide. While he’s yet to see in-game collegiate action, Blackmon has gotten first-team reps in the last two weeks of practice, so while he should be familiar with the Noles offense, you can’t quite replicate the feel of an in-action, and better yet conference, game.
The Noles and Pack will kickoff at noon.
Throughout the season, the WCTV Sports team will give you predictions for how they think the Noles will fare.
In this week's game against NC State, the key for FSU will be keeping James Blackman upright. The redshirt freshman will make his first collegiate start today after incumbent starting quarterback Deondre Francois went down with injury in FSU’s opening-week loss to Alabama. With Francois sidelined for the season, the Noles, especially today, need to make things as easy as possible on their frosh gun slinger. The offensive line, anchored by Alex Elerbe must give their young QB time in the pocket to make his reads and find the open receiver.
While Jimbo Fisher won’t ask Blackman to do too much, he’ll instead put the ownness on the weapons around him. Expect a heavy workload from running backs Jaques Patrick and Cam Akers. Don’t be surprised to see a fair amount of short yardage passes in the form of screens and slants, either. Again, KISS. Keep It Simple….Seminoles.
Despite NC State’s formidable front 7, I still think the Seminoles come out with a win today. FSU hasn’t lost a home-opener at Doak under Jimbo Fisher, and I don’t anticipate they’ll start today.
Noles win 24-14
Since FSU is breaking in a true freshman QB in James Blackman, I imagine Jimbo Fisher and company will be fairly conservative in terms of play calling.
I think we see Blackman throw 20-25 passes in this game while Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers dominate the ground game.
Wolfpack QB Ryan Lindley has been impressive thus far but he hasn't faced a defense as talented as FSU's. I think you see the Noles defense keep NC State in check while the offense learns to gel with a new QB under center. FSU wins 28-10.
FSU will take the first half to settle in with their new quarterback, while the Noles defense will keep them in the close contest.
I think FSU pulls away late for a 24-17 victory.