For a game that ended with a 52-0 score, I think you're going to hear a lot of criticisms (some merited, some not) this week. It was already evident in some of the questions Jimbo Fisher fielded after the game, but there are still a few things left unanswered about this Florida State team as they head into arguably their biggest game of the season.
Nobody is looking for answers on the defensive side of the ball though. Well, maybe opposing offenses, but the Florida State defense was excellent once again on Saturday.
Wake Forest had no answers, going 1-for-16 on third downs, mustering just 126 total yards and failing to score a single point. 75 of Wake's 126 yards came on two plays, without those, they averaged less than a yard per play.
“I think they’ve got great depth, obviously," said Wake head coach Jim Grobe. "They are primarily a junior, senior defense. I think they started one sophomore today. That’s typically what we have done to be successful – play older players. I think what Jimbo has done is they have been very, very patient and have been able to keep their players here. You are talking about not only a talented team but a veteran, crusty football team. This group of guys is hard-nosed guys and are not going to beat themselves."
I don't think I've ever heard this defense described as crusty, but whatever Grobe wants to term it, this defense owned the Deacon's side of the line of scrimmage today. Aside from a blown assignment on a 34-yard run early on, there were very few MA's and even less room for Wake to operate.
"They didn’t make a lot of mistakes today. I thought they played really physical football. I was really impressed with the schemes the coaches had for us today," said Grobe. "It was impressive watching them play today. This is a really, really special football team.”
Just how special remains to be seen, but Wake was not hapless offensively. Tanner Price is a pretty good junior QB and Michael Campanaro was leading the NCAA in receptions before today. Price didn't finish the game, but went just 8-22 for 82 yards and Campanaro caught just two balls for eight. Neither factored.
Instead it was Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine firing off the edge while the pocket collapsed in the middle and the Wake linemen held on (literally sometimes) for dear life.
“We’re just playing football and playing disciplined football," said sophomore DT Tim Jernigan. "We’re just doing whatever the coaches say and I’m using my athletic ability playing within the scheme and that’s all. Wasn’t any secret or nothing to it.”
Jernigan lead the Seminoles in tackles on Saturday with six.
Next week will be the first real test for the Seminoles. Clemson can match Florida State's athleticism, it will be up to the Seminole defense to play smart football and maintain their responsibilities.
If they do, this could be one of the nation's top units. Of course that's what Florida State's expected all along.
“I got all the faith in the world in the team and the coaches," said Jernigan. "It doesn’t surprise me at all.”