TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It has been nearly one full year since Florida State defeated a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team at Doak Campbell Stadium. If the Seminoles' coaching staff had an exact idea why the team has lost five of its last six at home, they would have certainly tapped into by now.
The 'Noles hope to change that with a homecoming victory over North Carolina State on Saturday, building on the momentum gained from last week's come-from-behind win at North Carolina.
Inconsistency has plagued both the Seminoles and visiting Wolfpack throughout the season. Now the trick for FSU is turning last Thursday's rally from an 18-point deficit for a 30-27 victory into a season-changing win.
"The challenge we've made is to take the second half (at North Carolina) and take it to Saturday and play together two full halves," said FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. "Our preparation has been pretty good."
Junior quarterback Christian Ponder, who guided the Seminoles to 24 second-half points against the Tar Heels, concurred with Fisher.
"We definitely got some more practice time in against a good opponent in N.C. State," Ponder said, after the 'Noles capped off their game preparation Thursday afternoon. "Whenever you have more practice time, it's good. ... Everyone stayed focused and came out and worked hard. I think you can see that our confidence is coming back and I think it's a good thing."
The Seminoles must be productive on both sides of the football against the Wolfpack. That's true for the offense, led by Ponder, who is trying to become the first quarterback in school history with four consecutive 300-yard passing games. FSU will try and beef of its running game, rather than lean solely on the passing exploits of Ponder, who has strung together three consecutive season-high performances for passing yardage.
Fisher dismissed the notion that the offense has virtually abandoned the running game after managing just 43 yards on the ground at UNC.
"I don't really think it's struggling, because we ran the ball well against Georgia Tech," Fisher explained. "We had 183 yards rushing. The last game we got behind. You got behind against a big (UNC) front and you picked your moments to run. ... Teams like that you're never going to block early. We're going to run the football. We'll still be disciplined and we're going to run it."
Stopping the run and containing talented and elusive N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson is the primary goal for an FSU defense, which limited the Tar Heels to 10 second-half points, despite surrendering 238 rushing yards.
Interior defensive line coach Odell Haggins, who welcomed back defensive tackle Justin Mincey from injury against the Tar Heels, said his group is as healthy as it has been since the opening game. That's a positive according to sophomore tackle Moses McCray.
McCray said getting Mincey on the field for the first time this season, "helped us out a lot."
“We can make a lot more improvement if almost everybody is healthy,” McCray said.
Piurowski surgery goes well
Senior tight end Caz Piurowski underwent reconstructive left knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament Thursday at Tallahassee Orthopedic Surgery Center.
"It went great," said TOC surgeon Steve Jordan, who performed the surgery along with Tom Haney. "It was awesome. We were really excited about the graft and feel very good."
Piurowski was one of the top tight ends in the country before suffering the season-ending injury against Georgia Tech on Oct. 10. He still hopes to be recovered in time to earn an invitation to the NFL Combine in February.
Florida State's injury report for Saturday's game against N.C. State:
Out for the season: LB Maurice Harris (neck), TE Caz Piurowski (knee)
Out: CB Dionte Allen (thumb), OT Garrett Faircloth (hip), OT Antwane Greenlee (knee), LB Aaron Gresham (knee), DT Demonte McAllister (knee), OT John Prior (knee), DT Budd Thacker (knee), LB Vince Williams (back)
Questionable: CB Xavier Rhodes (thumb), CB Patrick Robinson (ankle)
Probable: WR Richard Goodman (groin), RB Korey Mangum (shoulder), DT Justin Mincey (knee), LB Dekoda Watson (groin).