The last two times that Wake Forest has come to Tallahassee they have been shut out. In fact, counting Saturday's 52-0 win, the Demon Deacons haven't scored a touchdown in Tallahassee since 2006.
Amazingly, Wake still won in 2008 (without the use of touchdowns), but their last two trips have been lost by a combined score of 83-0.
Yesterday Florida State destroyed Wake on the legs of Chris Thompson who didn't even break 10 carries but still managed to break Wake's back almost a full year after they broke his. (I'll have a lot more on him later)
“There was nothing like it, I have been pretty much waiting for this moment for a while," Thompson said afterwards. "To open up against an ACC team and for it to be the Wake game was such a big deal due to the fact of what happened last year.”
Even after watching the replay of the game last night, I have to admit Thompson had the kind of game I don't even think he could have imagined. It all pretty much came on three runs too. At the end of the first quarter Thompson's 33-yard run set up an EJ Manuel TD later in the drive, then he hit home runs from 74 and 80 yards in the second quarter.
But Thompson's first carries were actually rough, he was thrown for a loss his first carry of the ball game and struggled to find space on the next several, largely thanks to early blocking issues.
But something clicked around the 5:00 mark of the first quarter, maybe it was just the line settling in or maybe it was just the nerves fading, but Thompson's vision picked up, he flashed his speed and he broke the game wide open.
After the game, Lonnie Pryor joked that on Thompson's first gain he looked a little slow.
"I wanted to show him how fast I was," joked Thompson when asked aboyt Pryor's remark. "When I came to the sideline he came and told me that also so I was like, 'looks like i'm going to have to run a little faster.'"
All joking aside, that may have been Pryor alluding to Thompson's nerves. All week CT admitted that the game was in his head a little. On Monday he talked about how he wasn't feeling himself, by Thursday he was so worked up Eddie Gran (RB Coach) had to pull him aside at practice to settle him down.
Once he settled down on Saturday, he was unreal. As in, videogame good. You could play EA's NCAA Football ten times and not duplicate what Thompson did in real life on Saturday afternoon.
Here are a few other thoughts from the morning after:
-There's still a few concerns about the pass-pro from the Seminoles' starting tackles. Menelik Watson missed Saturday's start for precautionary reasons. He saw time at the end of the game but after being held out of practice during the week the coaching staff opted to go with Daniel Glauser at right tackle.
Early on, both tackles struggled a little. Cam Erving got beat on a sack that would cause an EJ Manuel fumble to start the second quarter and Glauser seemed to have issues right at the start of the game.
Now, it's worth pointing out that on several of the plays in question there was help that never came from a tight end or back, it's not always on the shoulders of the linemen, but the Seminoles kind of lurched out the gate at first because of issues up front in their blocking scheme. Once those got ironed out, the offense started to roll, but that's a good reiteration of the fact that this offense is only as good as the men up front.
-You're going to hear all week about the Seminoles passing game and whether it's clicking. Last season it was the opposite, Florida State couldn't establish the run to save their lives and were forced to rely on chucking it, this year they can run but the pass game has been slow to develop.
At yesterday's news conference Jimbo Fisher bristled at the question that it might be his quarterback.
"He missed Pryor because he overthrew him but he missed the one on the other side because he quit running," said Fisher. "That's why you've got to look at why he missed, and then he makes throws coming back. He missed a sideline throw to Rodney, I can tell you exactly every one he missed... [But] we dropped [a bunch] too... All the sudden you catch two or three and get in a rhythm. So I mean it can go quarterback, but I've got it on the quarterback, on the protection and I got it on the receivers. I think all three phases can do a better job."
Either way, Fisher admits his offense never found a tight rhythm, and through the coach speak you could tell he wants to hone his passing attack before Clemson shows up next weekend. And he's right, early on the pass-pro left Manuel little time to go through his progressions, his receivers weren't perfect, but neither was he. He admitted as much.
But he also said he doesn't think things are far off.
“Just the fact that we can have the running game carries us as an offense, once we get the passing game clicking then we will be dangerous to any team," said Manuel after the game. "I don’t think teams will know what to prepare for during the week (if we can get both sides going). Granted I want to have a better game passing but I know it is going to come.”
As for what needs to happen, Manuel mirrored his coach's sentiments. The team just needs to play better and be more detail-oriented. I'm sure that will be a focal point this week.
-Rashad Greene returned another punt for a touchdown. He isn't as fearless with the gunners bearing down on him as Greg Reid was, but he may be just as elusive in the open field. Greene housed a 60-yard punt return in the first quarter to put the Seminoles up by two scores. It was his second TD return of the season.
-Finally, you have to give credit to Kenny Shaw for one of the blocks of the game. With Chris Thompson racing down the sideline, Shaw delivered the block that sprung him.
"I'm looking forward [to seeing it on film]," said Shaw. "I just pride myself on being a team player, just getting other guys involved too and that doesn't even involve me scoring, me getting a catch, so that's why you [saw] me running cross the field getting Chris that touchdown."
Shaw added a TD catch of his own later, but his block was the kind of selfless play that makes good teams great. Kelvin Benjamin also deserves some credit for his downfield blocking too. That's the kind of effort coaches love out of receivers.
I'll have more later today including a piece on Chris Thompson talking summing up the last year.
Keep checking back.